Gate, Gate, Gate...
By William Westmiller
If Ken Starr told the whole truth, there are no surprises left. In his September Referral, the Special Prosecutor said new charges would be submitted promptly when a "significant body of substantial and credible information" meets the threshold for a submission. He also said those investigations were "nearing completion" a month ago. Unless he acts very soon, there will be no new impeachment allegations against William Jefferson Clinton on Filegate, Travelgate, Cattlegate or Whitewater. Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee have a problem.
The voluminous referral on the Lewinsky matter has exhausted all the fact-finding that the Judiciary Committee might otherwise have pursued. There are no new witnesses to add facts to what has already been revealed. There is literally nothing for the Committee to inquire about.
Re-hashing old material will hardly add credibility to the impeachment counts already drafted. Calling witnesses already deposed will be seen as cruel, if not lewd, voyeurism. Exposing the Special Council to verbal assaults will hardly raise the inquiry to a higher plane. Granting the President another public forum to bite his lip won't contribute to the finding of facts. The problem for the committee is that all the cards have been played.
Crashing into the gray or white "gates" can only reduce the veracity of the Lewinsky charges. If it were possible to impeach Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Committee might have some avenues of inquiry. All the evidence to date suggests that the First Lady was the instigator and executive hand in all these "gated" affairs. Any attempt to arraign Hillary will only distract from the standing accusations against Bill, re-enforcing the wails against purely partisan objectives.
The key for Republicans is to accept the Democrat restraints on the inquiry. In a sense, it has already done that by postponing the hearings until after the election. The outcome of subcommittee hearings on historic precedent is already known. Anyone can read Madison's notes, the Federalist Papers, records of judicial impeachments, even Hillary's commentary on impeachment standards for Nixon, in under an hour. There are, intentionally, no guidelines. Whether the specific conduct was criminal or not is irrelevant. Whether it has corrupted the executive branch is irrelevant. It's just a kinder, gentler form of assassination, motivated solely by the degree of outrage felt by sixty-seven Senators.
And there's the rub. If all the facts are known, the Senate will acquit the President and defeat any bill of particulars approved by the House of Representatives. There's no variation of impeachment that will get any more votes - probably fewer - than the initial roll call to conduct an inquiry. The sole issue for Republicans is whether they should proceed with a doomed, arguably partisan, effort. The question reduces to a tactical decision of when to cut bait and allow the process to expire. The best bet is to start negotiations. Not negotiations with the President, but with the Independent Counsel.
As it was in the beginning, the job of the Special Prosecutor is to allow allegations of executive crimes to be fully and objectively reviewed. The only merit the Office claims is independence from any appearance of biased executive influence. The objective of an Independent Council was to ensure that "equal treatment under the law", promised by the Fourteenth Amendment, applied to every citizen, including the President. If justice is to be done - and seen to be done - the President should be the subject of a criminal indictment for his misrepresentation.
Like any other citizen, the President can move to quash a criminal indictment, even appeal it all the way to the Supreme Court. His efforts along those lines have been legion and repeatedly unsuccessful. A criminal trial would maintain intact Bill Clinton's rights to a presumption of innocence, to confront his accusers, and to appeal to a jury of his peers (even if all twelve are his ethical superiors). He has, appropriately, none of those rights in the impeachment process. If convicted by a judge and jury, he could even try pardoning himself. Aside from being supercilious in any practical application, such an act would fly in the face of the clear intent and precedent of executive pardon. Conviction of perjury or obstruction of justice would make any impeachment a clear, bi-partisan, fait accompli.
The key for Republicans is not a prolonged castigation of Bill Clinton's ethical lapses or legal prevarications. It is in the defense of pure and simple justice. The consequences of felonious conduct by the President, or any other citizen, should be identical. If the Office of the President isthereby diminished, it is a fault of it's resident, not the law. The cry from every Republican - and Democrat - ought to be: "Let Justice Be Done!"
©1998, William Westmiller
California Coordinator of the Republican Liberty Caucus
Past Candidate for the Republican Nomination for (24CD) Congress
Former National Secretary, California Chairman, Libertarian Party
gategate.c08 ~790 Words