F.R. Duplantier reporting Behind The Headlines
Week of:
October 22, 2000
Impeachment Was Fitting and Proper

F.R. Duplantier

by: F.R. Duplantier

The impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton was not "just about sex." It was about perjury, subornation of perjury, obstruction of justice, and other high crimes and misdemeanors.

David Schippers scoffs at the oft-repeated claim that the impeachment of President Clinton was only "about sex and that everybody lies about sex. If that were true," the former chief investigative counsel for the House Judiciary Committee stipulates, "there might be some merit to the argument that the country was put through wholly unnecessary hell for such a venial fault. Once the truth is known, though," he insists, "it becomes apparent that the President's transgressions were neither defensible nor only about sex. Evidence showed a far-reaching conspiracy to obstruct justice and to deprive Paula Jones of her constitutional right as an American citizen to have her day in court to redress wrongs committed against her by Mr. Clinton. Those wrongs, in themselves, are not impeachable offenses," Schippers concedes. "Likewise, the President's conduct toward Monica Lewinsky and other women is not an impeachable offense. No reasonable person ever suggested otherwise. If sexual misconduct were all that could be shown, there would have been no inquiry or impeachment. No," he concludes, "the impeachable offenses were committed much later: perjury, lies, witness tampering, suborning perjury -- all to achieve a personal and political result, whatever the cost."

In his new book, Sellout: The Inside Story of President Clinton's Impeachment, Schippers explains the constitutional provisions for impeachment, which require that "the House of Representatives charge the nation's chief executive with high crimes and misdemeanors. That charge," he notes, "must be proved by the House Managers with clear and convincing evidence in a trial that is to be held exclusively by the Senate." Schippers concludes that "the system worked in the House but utterly collapsed in the Senate."

"Sellout," the title of Schippers' new book, sums up perfectly what occurred during the impeachment proceedings. "The Republican leadership in the Senate and House sold out the House Managers and our investigation," he recalls. "Democrats in both Houses sold out basic principles of law and decency for the sake of protecting one of their own. But, most distressingly, the President of the United States . . . sold out the American people," Schippers emphasizes. "In the process, he soiled not just himself, but the Constitution, the public trust, and the Presidency itself."

Schippers contends that "the scheme to rewrite history and to downplay the seriousness of President Clinton's malfeasance in office is well under way. The President's supporters," he notes, "attack the nebulous ‘vast right-wing conspiracy' and blame its members for daring, in their words, to ‘undo the verdict of the electorate.'" Schippers concludes that impeachment was "the only constitutional remedy available to correct some of the most outrageous conduct ever engaged in by a President of the United States. Mr. Clinton was impeached for obstruction of justice and for perjury, both federal criminal offenses," he emphasizes. "Nobody knows what the verdict of history will be, but, if the truth is known, the reputation of the House Managers should soar, and that of Mr. Clinton and the United States Senate should suffer."

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