At the outset, it must be noted that Starr's mandate was to investigate the Whitewater matter. Yet, there is barely one word about Whitewater in the 445 page report. Furthermore, in dismissing the Hubbell indictment, a federal judge ruled that Starr's efforts to expand his own jurisdiction were legally invalid.
Comparisons are frequently made between the Whitewater/Lewinsky matter and the Watergate affair, but these are inappropriate. The Watergate affair truly did effectively bring the government to a halt. Moreover, to this day, the truth about Watergate has never been revealed. We still do not know if President Nixon ordered the Watergate break in or if G. Gordon Liddy acted on his own. President Nixon was never compelled to testify (he claimed that he could not testify because he had a blood clot in his leg) and carried his secrets about the Watergate to his grave. Liddy now makes a good living as the bad guy in action movies and openly proclaims that he still is withholding the secret to the Watergate, which he undoubtedly is. The only man alive today who knows what really happened in the Watergate is G. Gordon Liddy, and Liddy still refuses to talk.
The Starr report is concerned entirely with the Lewinsky matter and sex with the President. None of the original charges which Starr was supposed to be investigating receive more than passing mention.
At first blush, the charges seem serious. Starr claims that there are eleven crimes committed by the President, all of which involve perjury or obstruction of justice in connection with his efforts to keep his sexual relationship with Lewinsky a secret. However, when examining these claims, while giving due regard to the unusual spin which Starr gives to known events, it becomes apparent that there is no there there.
For example, much is made of the fact that Vernon Jordan, Clinton's friend, tried to help Lewinsky obtain a job with Revlon, Inc. However, the report also mentions that Jordan is not merely the President's friend. Jordan is also a director of Revlon, Inc. Lewinsky was offered a job with Revlon, but she turned it down, because she does not want to move to New York. Starr does not explain what was illegal or even noteworthy about any of this.
In his introduction, Starr goes at great length to say that the First Lady helped Webster Hubbell gain employment contracts during the period when Hubbell was under criminal investigation. The implication is that Hillary Clinton was trying to use her influence as the president's wife to secure the cooperation of Hubbell so that he would continue to engage in a cover-up to protect the president.
This claim sounds serious, until one considers the following facts: Webster Hubbell was an old friend of Hillary Clinton. They had been law partners in Arkansas. Hubbell was just in the process of leaving or had just left a high-level position with the Justice Department. Any time a high level employee of the U.S. Government leaves, he tries to secure employment which will be waiting for him after he left. This is perfectly legal. Naturally, under these circumstances, he would call his old friend Hillary. There is absolutely nothing illegal about this. It is done every day.
Finally, the only criminal investigation which Hubbell was ever under was that brought by Ken Starr himself. Starr did eventually obtain an indictment of Hubbell, but that was thrown out when a federal district judge ruled that Starr had no jurisdiction to obtain an indictment against Hubbell. Starr conveniently fails to mention the fact that his case against Hubbell was thrown out of court.
Almost every other allegation by Starr falls apart in a similar fashion. Starr clearly is trying to break new legal ground, to create new crimes which have never been recognized by any court of law.
For example, regarding the Lewinsky matter, Starr says: "After telling her that she was a potential witness, the President suggested that, if she were subpoenaed, she could file an affidavit to avoid being deposed."
Exactly where is the crime? Clinton is a lawyer. Lawyers often express opinions as to how to present their case in the most favorable light and how to keep unfavorable evidence from coming out. If suggesting that Lewinsky file an affidavit in order to avoid being deposed is a crime, then every lawyer in America will go to jail, because that is the kind of advice which lawyers often give.
Similarly, throughout his report, Starr implies that by trying to present his case in the most favorable light and even by appealing to the United States Supreme Court, Clinton has engaged in "obstruction of justice". No judge of any court has ever expressed support for such a proposition.
Significantly, Starr also fails to mention that his mandate as a special prosecutor is to prosecute crimes. However, after spending $40 million in tax payers money and bringing dozens of witnesses to testify before various grand juries over a period of four years, Starr has failed to obtain even one criminal indictment, except for the indictment of Hubbell, which was thrown out of court. It is now clear that there is insufficient evidence to bring a criminal charge against Clinton or his associates, because otherwise Starr would have brought one. Furthermore, it is apparent that the grand jury proceedings were improper in the first place, because Starr was calling all these witnesses to develop evidence to bring about the impeachment of the President. Starr has no jurisdiction over impeachment proceedings, and he never obtained a valid indictment for any crime.
The Starr report contains almost nothing new. This itself is surprising. One would think that after spending $40 million in taxpayer's money, Starr would have some new information which we in the general public did not know. However, almost everything in the Starr report reflects something which has appeared in the newspapers long ago. The only difference is the unique spin which Starr provides, turning prosaic events which occur in almost every life into some sort of diabolic criminal activity.
Of course, the reason why none of this is new is that Starr has been leaking information about the Grand Jury proceedings, along with his unique legal theories, all along. Starr denies being the source of these leaks but, now that the report is out, it is apparent that there is no other possible source.
Among the few new revelations are a statement that, according to Lewinsky, Clinton once inserted a cigar into her vagina. However, here it must be pointed out that (1) even if true, this was not a crime, since Lewinsky was clearly a consenting adult (2) Lewinsky previously had signed an affidavit stating that she had never had any sexual relations with the President, which makes her a liar either before or after and (3) Starr had threatened that he was going to obtain criminal indictments against both Lewinsky and her mother, Marcia Lewis, unless Lewinsky supplied damaging information against the president. It was apparently the threat by Starr that he was going to try to have Monica's mother sent to prison that induced Lewinsky to make the statements she made.
Accordingly, with such weak and uncorroborated evidence, it is readily apparent that Starr could never obtain a valid conviction of the President, and so far he has not obtained even an indictment.
Furthermore, the report makes it clear that Clinton's relationship with Monica began before she was a federal employee, and continued after she no longer worked for the federal government. Initially, Lewinsky was an unpaid White House volunteer. A volunteer is not an employee. Their relationship began during the governmental shutdown. This was a period engineered by the Republicans when the federal government ran out of money to pay salaries. Since there were no paid employees on duty in the White House, this gave Lewinsky her first direct shot at the President. Since she was not an employee, his testimony that he did not have a sexual relationship with a "federal employee" was correct at that point in time.
Also, it appears that Clinton is at least arguably correct in his legalistic interpretation of what constitutes a "sexual relationship" within the context of the definition of the Paula Jones lawsuit. It appears that Monica gave him a blow job, but he did not touch her on the breasts, vagina or anus. Furthermore, he did not cause or coerce her to give him a blow job. She did it of her own volition. Therefore, according to the "Jones" definition, she had sexual relations with him, but he did not have sexual relations with her. Here is the specific language which leads to that conclusion:
b. Grand Jury Testimony
The President also maintained that none of his sexual contacts with Ms. Lewinsky constituted "sexual relations" within a specific definition used in the Jones deposition. Under that definition:
[A] person engages in "sexual relations" when the person knowingly engages in or causes -- (1) contact with the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks of any person with an intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person . . . . "Contact" means intentional touching, either directly or through clothing.
According to what the President testified was his understanding, this definition "covers contact by the person being deposed with the enumerated areas, if the contact is done with an intent to arouse or gratify," but it does not cover oral sex performed on the person being deposed. He testified:
[I]f the deponent is the person who has oral sex performed on him, then the contact is with -- not with anything on that list, but with the lips of another person. It seems to be self-evident that that's what it is. . . . Let me remind you, sir, I read this carefully.
In the President's view, "any person, reasonable person" would recognize that oral sex performed on the deponent falls outside the definition.
If Ms. Lewinsky performed oral sex on the President, then -- under this interpretation -- she engaged in sexual relations but he did not. The President refused to answer whether Ms. Lewinsky in fact had performed oral sex on him.
He did testify that direct contact with Ms. Lewinsky's breasts or genitalia would fall within the definition, and he denied having had any such contact."
In addition, Starr has clearly violated grand jury secrecy law through the issuance of this report. The report extensively quotes grand jury testimony by both Clinton and Lewinsky, along with other lesser players. These grand jury minutes are required to be kept secret, by law. No valid purpose was served by such detailed revelations of grand jury testimony. For example, why was it necessary for Starr to include the detailed allegation that Clinton inserted a cigar into Lewinsky's vagina? Whether true or not, this allegation will undoubtedly have an adverse effect on Miss Lewinsky's private future life.
Here is a long quote from the Starr report. In it, he makes issue with the fact that the President urged Monica to keep their relationship secret. It is apparently the theory of Ken Starr that the President has an obligation as the nation's highest public official to openly proclaim and advertise the fact that he has a mistress. Starr never explains why asking Monica to keep the relationship a secret constitutes a crime. At no time is there any allegation that Clinton induced Monica to lie under oath. There is, of course, a big difference between concealing a private sexual relationship and lying under oath in a court of law. Ken Starr pretends that he cannot see the difference.
Here is the quote from the Starr Report. While some may find this literature interesting and perhaps even titillating, I ask, "Why have the taxpayers of America been required to pay $40 million for this information? Should not we, the taxpayers, have some choice in how our money is spent?"
"Ms. Lewinsky and the President exchanged numerous gifts. By her estimate, she gave him about 30 items, and he gave her about 18. Ms. Lewinsky's first gift to him was a matted poem given by her and other White House interns to commemorate "National Boss Day," October 24, 1995. This was the only item reflected in White House records that Ms. Lewinsky gave the President before (in her account) the sexual relationship began, and the only item that he sent to the archives instead of keeping. On November 20 -- five days after the intimate relationship began, according to Ms. Lewinsky -- she gave him a necktie, which he chose to keep rather than send to the archives. According to Ms. Lewinsky, the President telephoned the night she gave him the tie, then sent her a photo of himself wearing it. The tie was logged pursuant to White House procedures for gifts to the President.
In a draft note to the President in December 1997, Ms. Lewinsky wrote that she was "very particular about presents and could never give them to anyone else -- they were all bought with you in mind." Many of the 30 or so gifts that she gave the President reflected his interests in history, antiques, cigars, and frogs. Ms. Lewinsky gave him, among other things, six neckties, an antique paperweight showing the White House, a silver tabletop holder for cigars or cigarettes, a pair of sunglasses, a casual shirt, a mug emblazoned "Santa Monica," a frog figurine, a letter opener depicting a frog, several novels, a humorous book of quotations, and several antique books. He gave her, among other things, a hat pin, two brooches, a blanket, a marble bear figurine, and a special edition of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass.
Ms. Lewinsky construed it as a sign of affection when the President wore a necktie or other item of clothing she had given him. She testified: "I used to say to him that 'I like it when you wear my ties because then I know I'm close to your heart.' So -- literally and figuratively." The President was aware of her reaction, according to Ms. Lewinsky, and he would sometimes wear one of the items to reassure her -- occasionally on the day they were scheduled to meet or the day after they had met in person or talked by telephone. The President would sometimes say to her, "Did you see I wore your tie the other day?"
In his grand jury testimony, the President acknowledged that he had exchanged a number of gifts with Ms. Lewinsky. After their intimate relationship ended in 1997, he testified, "[S]he continued to give me gifts. And I felt that it was a right thing to do to give her gifts back."
According to Ms. Lewinsky, she sent the President a number of cards and letters. In some, she expressed anger that he was "not paying enough attention to me"; in others, she said she missed him; in still others, she just sent "a funny card that I saw." In early January 1998, she sent him, along with an antique book about American presidents, "[a]n embarrassing mushy note." She testified that the President never sent her any cards or notes other than formal thank-you letters.
Testifying before the grand jury, the President acknowledged having received cards and notes from Ms. Lewinsky that were "somewhat intimate" and "quite affectionate," even after the intimate relationship ended.
1. Mutual Understanding
Both Ms. Lewinsky and the President testified that they took steps to maintain the secrecy of the relationship. According to Ms. Lewinsky, the President from the outset stressed the importance of keeping the relationship secret. In her handwritten statement to this Office, Ms. Lewinsky wrote that "the President told Ms. L to deny a relationship, if ever asked about it. He also said something to the effect of if the two people who are involved say it didn't happen -- it didn't happen." According to Ms. Lewinsky, the President sometimes asked if she had told anyone about their sexual relationship or about the gifts they had exchanged; she (falsely) assured him that she had not. She told him that "I would always deny it, I would always protect him," and he responded approvingly. The two of them had, in her words, "a mutual understanding" that they would "keep this private, so that meant deny it and . . . take whatever appropriate steps needed to be taken." When she and the President both were subpoenaed to testify in the Jones case, Ms. Lewinsky anticipated that "as we had on every other occasion and every other instance of this relationship, we would deny it."
In his grand jury testimony, the President confirmed his efforts to keep their liaisons secret. He said he did not want the facts of their relationship to be disclosed "in any context," and added: "I certainly didn't want this to come out, if I could help it. And I was concerned about that. I was embarrassed about it. I knew it was wrong." Asked if he wanted to avoid having the facts come out through Ms. Lewinsky's testimony in Jones, he said: "Well, I did not want her to have to testify and go through that. And, of course, I didn't want her to do that, of course not."
2. Cover Stories
For her visits to see the President, according to Ms. Lewinsky, "[T]here was always some sort of a cover." When visiting the President while she worked at the White House, she generally planned to tell anyone who asked (including Secret Service officers and agents) that she was delivering papers to the President. Ms. Lewinsky explained that this artifice may have originated when "I got there kind of saying, 'Oh, gee, here are your letters,' wink, wink, wink, and him saying, 'Okay, that's good.'" To back up her stories, she generally carried a folder on these visits. (In truth, according to Ms. Lewinsky, her job never required her to deliver papers to the President.) On a few occasions during her White House employment, Ms. Lewinsky and the President arranged to bump into each other in the hallway; he then would invite her to accompany him to the Oval Office. Later, after she left the White House and started working at the Pentagon, Ms. Lewinsky relied on Ms. Currie to arrange times when she could see the President. The cover story for those visits was that Ms. Lewinsky was coming to see Ms. Currie, not the President.
While the President did not expressly instruct her to lie, according to Ms. Lewinsky, he did suggest misleading cover stories. And, when she assured him that she planned to lie about the relationship, he responded approvingly. On the frequent occasions when Ms. Lewinsky promised that she would "always deny" the relationship and "always protect him," for example, the President responded, in her recollection, "'That's good,' or -- something affirmative. . . . [N]ot -- 'Don't deny it.'"
Once she was named as a possible witness in the Jones case, according to Ms. Lewinsky, the President reminded her of the cover stories. After telling her that she was a potential witness, the President suggested that, if she were subpoenaed, she could file an affidavit to avoid being deposed. He also told her she could say that, when working at the White House, she had sometimes delivered letters to him, and, after leaving her White House job, she had sometimes returned to visit Ms. Currie. (The President's own testimony in the Jones case mirrors the recommendations he made to Ms. Lewinsky for her testimony. In his deposition, the President testified that he saw Ms. Lewinsky "on two or three occasions" during the November 1995 government furlough, "one or two other times when she brought some documents to me," and "sometime before Christmas" when Ms. Lewinsky "came by to see Betty."
In his grand jury testimony, the President acknowledged that he and Ms. Lewinsky "might have talked about what to do in a nonlegal context" to hide their relationship, and that he "might well have said" that Ms. Lewinsky should tell people that she was bringing letters to him or coming to visit Ms. Currie. But he also stated that "I never asked Ms. Lewinsky to lie."
3. Steps to Avoid Being Seen or Heard
After their first two sexual encounters during the November 1995 government shutdown, according to Ms. Lewinsky, her encounters with the President generally occurred on weekends, when fewer people were in the West Wing. Ms. Lewinsky testified:
He had told me . . . that he was usually around on the weekends and that it was okay to come see him on the weekends. So he would call and we would arrange either to bump into each other in the hall or that I would bring papers to the office.
From some of the President's comments, Ms. Lewinsky gathered that she should try to avoid being seen by several White House employees, including Nancy Hernreich, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Oval Office Operations, and Stephen Goodin, the President's personal aide.
Out of concern about being seen, the sexual encounters most often occurred in the windowless hallway outside the study. According to Ms. Lewinsky, the President was concerned that the two of them might be spotted through a White House window. When they were in the study together in the evenings, he sometimes turned out the light. Once, when she spotted a gardener outside the study window, they left the room. Ms. Lewinsky testified that, on December 28, 1997, "when I was getting my Christmas kiss" in the doorway to the study, the President was "looking out the window with his eyes wide open while he was kissing me and then I got mad because it wasn't very romantic."