Monica's back – says Clinton lied

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Pop Sickle, Dec 17, 2009.

  1. Monica's back – says Clinton lied

    John F. Harris, Josh Gerstein John F. Harris, Josh Gerstein 1 hr 25 mins ago

    In the years since their bitter battle, both former President Bill Clinton and independent counsel Ken Starr have predicted they’d be vindicated in the history books.

    Now the first definitive history of the Clinton scandal is about to arrive – and neither man can be completely happy about his portrayal in its pages.

    “The Death of American Virtue,” due out in February, asserts that Clinton had yet another extramarital affair, with Susan McDougal of Whitewater fame. Also in the book, Monica Lewinsky tells author Ken Gormley that she believes the president lied under oath when he described their encounters.

    At the same time, Gormley offers a harsh portrait of Starr as a man out of his depth and who lost all sense of proportion. His interviews offer new ammunition to critics who contend the Lewinsky investigation was marred at its outset by improper questioning of Lewinsky in January 1998 by Starr’s lieutenants, who continued to grill her even after she asked for a lawyer.

    Two presidents later, the saga feels like a far-off chapter in the nation’s history but the book makes clear that the principals, including Clinton himself, remain keenly interested in squaring the historical record to their liking.

    In three interviews with the author, Clinton makes clear – to no surprise of longtime observers of the 42nd president – how aggrieved his continues to feel over the whole episode, unspooling a stream of choice invective about his other accusers. In Clinton’s telling, the head of the House impeachment team, Henry Hyde, is a “bitter right-winger” and “hypocrite,” and the judge who cited Clinton for civil contempt was merely currying favor with the conservative wing of the GOP.

    Through 769 pages, Gormley, a Duquesne University law professor, offers a detailed, even scholarly retelling of an epic saga of grand jury depositions, fevered partisans, and a single stained blue dress that once transfixed a nation — but which many Americans are surely eager to leave in the past.

    Even so, the book represents an attempt by a law professor and prominent legal pundit to write what he is billing as the most complete and even-handed account of the tumultuous criminal investigation that explored Clinton’s affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, nearly ended his presidency and ultimately boomeranged on Starr, staining the professional reputation of one of America’s foremost constitutional scholars.

    But with one of the principals still very much in the public eye – the former president turned globe-trotting chief of his own foundation — the revelations are sure to dredge up the unpleasant details of a president and prosecutor locked in legal combat.

    Among the book’s most attention-grabbing claims:

    -- Confirmation of a long-rumored romantic affair between Clinton and McDougal, an Arkansas woman who spent 18 months in jail for refusing to answer questions from Starr’s prosecutors before a grand jury, and later received a presidential pardon from Clinton. Gormley writes he is now certain “some intimate involvement did occur,” though he will not say precisely how he knows it to be true.

    “I feel very, very comfortable with that conclusion after having conducted extensive interviews and seen documents that were not generally accessible to the public,” Gormley told POLITICO.

    While Gormley says his evidence confirms the longstanding suspicions of Starr’s prosecutors that McDougal had a secret extramarital affair with Clinton, the author says he does not believe that entanglement, which took place years earlier, had anything to do with her refusal to testify about the Bill and Hillary Clinton’s involvement with the Whitewater land deal or with the president’s decision to pardon her in 2001.

    McDougal has previously denied any affair with Bill Clinton. Efforts to contact her for this article were unsuccessful.

    -- Lewinsky now believes Bill Clinton lied about their relationship during his grand jury testimony. “There was no leeway [there] on the veracity of his statements because they asked him detailed and specific questions to which he answered untruthfully,” she wrote to Gormley earlier this year. Longtime Clinton attorney David Kendall declined to comment.

    -- Starr’s successor Robert Ray was prepared to indict Clinton soon after he left office if he did not agree to admit that he made false statements about Lewinsky under oath and accept disbarment. Ray “was ready to ‘pull the trigger’ if the conditions he imposed were not satisfied,” Gormley writes, and had to be “cajoled” by a colleague into signing off on the final deal.

    “President Clinton would never fully grasp how close he came to being indicted,” Gormley writes. (read more of the article below)