Starr's Testimony and the Impeachment InquiryBy Carolyn Gargaro
Democrats Ignore the Real Issues
November 19, 1998
I remember not too long ago, the complaints of the Democratic members of the judiciary committee regarding the expanded scope of the impeachment inquiry. While almost every Democratic member of the committee voted in favor of some sort of impeachment inquiry, they complained and balked at the decision to not limit the scope of the inquiry to the items covered in the Starr Report. In fact, Richard Gephardt threatened that the Democrats in the judiciary committee would walk-out during the inquiry if Kenneth Starr dared to mention anything besides what was covered in his initial report. The walk-out did not occur, but one thing seemed evident: the Democrats said they didn't want to discuss items not contained in the report.
However, actions speak louder than words.
I have not seen every minute of the 11/19/98 proceedings, but as of the writing of this article, I have seen some of it. To my amazement, the same Democrats who complained and cried about broadening the scope of the investigation, upon questioning Kenneth Starr, asked him almost ANYTHING except questions related to his referral! Perhaps my opinion will change once I see the 11/19/98 proceedings in full, but from what I have seen, the questions asked of Kenneth Starr by Kendall and the Democrats was an example of ultimate hypocrisy.
Right in the beginning of Mr. Starr's initial testimony, Sheila Jackson-Lee (TX) interrupted because he started to mention something about Whitewater. She claimed that this denied President Clinton and any other parties their 5th amendment rights. Ms. Jackson-Lee didn't seem to waver though, as other committee members went off on every tangent imaginable.
Some Democratic members did bring up some minor points from the report, (wow!) mainly, the fact that Monica testified that "no one told me to lie." They of course, ignored the fact that Monica also testified that the President called her on the phone, summoned her to his office and suggested that she file a false affidavit. I guess that's not "telling someone to lie." Focus also fell on why Mr. Starr put such "explicit" details in a report that the public would see. Obviously, Mr. Starr answered that the report was written for the private viewing of the committee members, and it was the committee which decided to release it to the public.
Other points were brought up - points which made no sense to bring up. For instance, there was outrage at the fact that the Grand Jury witnesses were not cross-examined! Of course, most people should be aware that no Grand Jury witnesses are ever cross examined! And how absolutely irrelevant to the allegations against President Clinton.
During the questioning period, Maxine Waters (CA) berated Mr. Starr because one of the investigators in Whitewater questioned a 16 year-old boy who had relevant information. I would like to ask Ms. Waters how this is relevant to Starr's referral? On one hand, she was outraged that there would be any mention of items not contained within the Starr Report, yet she herself asked questions which were totally unrelated to the report! Oh - but she did try an accuse Kenneth Starr of PERJURY! Yes - ironically, at an impeachment hearing where Maxine Waters complains that perjury isn't a big deal, she turns around and makes unfounded accusations of perjury against Kenneth Starr. I challenge Maxine Waters to find ANY instance of perjury in Mr. Starr's testimony.
Other Democratic members would fire off 5 or 6 questions to Starr (unrelated to the referral of course) and expected Mr. Starr to answer in a 10 second period. I gather the issue of fairness isn't relevant when asking questions of Mr. Starr.
The desperation prize of the day, though, goes to Clinton's own lawyer David Kendall. I had the pleasure of seeing the full hour of his cross-examination of Kenneth Starr.
Kendall asked about press policy. He asked why Mr. Starr made any comments to the press off the record. He asked if any of his deputies held Monica against her will. He accused Mr. Starr of trying to get Monica to wear a wire - something which has been proven to be false in COURT OF LAW. Monica was asked if she would be a cooperating witness which may include wearing a wire if needed, among other things. Kendall knew this, yet, he asked it anyway, He brought up a Time article where Monica's original lawyer, William Ginsberg (not known for his consistency or accuracy) accused Mr. Starr of denying Monica of her constitutional rights, when , again, it had already been litigated in court and found that Monica was NOT denied her constitutional rights. Kendall spent additional time asking Mr. Starr if his office leaked information, knowing full well that such actions are in litigation at this very moment, and that Starr denies such leaks.
Ironically, Kendall did not question Mr. Starr about the referral!! Kendall wasn't there to defend Clinton - he was there to try and find wrongdoing by Mr. Starr, as if any finding of wrongdoing would somehow vindicate President Clinton! Not once did he ask about the possible impeachable offenses! Not once did he try and defend the actions of President Clinton! Not once did he even assert that the allegations against the President were false! Not once did he assert that Monica Lewinsky's testimony was false!
It was unbelievable. I felt embarrassed for Kendall - he couldn't defend his client, so, as has been the "modus operandi" of this whole process, he decided to try and attack Kenneth Starr! During his entire hour of cross-examination, not ONCE did he refer to related items in Starr's referral regarding the allegations against President Clinton. Instead he put Mr. Starr on trial! Last time I checked, this was an impeachment inquiry regarding William Jefferson Clinton, not an examination on the tactics of Kenneth Starr or whether he leaked information to the press, or if he knew anyone who knew anyone who might be a friend of the brother of the lawyer of Paula Jones!! Incidentally, Kendall's accusations that Ken Starr leaked information or used unethical practices were unfounded, and he was unable to prove that Starr did anything unethical or outside the realm of his duty. For someone who complained about his limited time, Kendall did a superb job of wasting every minute that was given to him. Perhaps the reason he had to focus solely on whether Ken Starr did anything wrong and never once defended his client, William Jefferson Clinton, is because he HAS no defense. In a hope to hide this inconvenient little fact, Kendall decided that maybe if he twisted facts enough, maybe, just MAYBE people would forget that the inquiry was regarding President Clinton's alleged obstruction of justice, abuse of power, and perjury. Such a stunt is an insult to the intelligence of any thinking person, and was an utter waste of time. Kenneth Starr was NOT on trial, and, if there had been any illegal or unethical activities on behalf Kenneth Starr, Janet Reno had the jurisdiction to FIRE him at any time. Kendall of course, seemed to forget that inconvenient little fact also.
For a group of people who did not want to scope of the inquiry broadened, the Democrats and David Kendall certainly had no qualms about ignoring the primary issues at hand, which was the possible impeachable offenses of the President, and focusing on issues which were essentially unrelated. But then, this same group of people complained that Henry Hyde was dragging out the hearings, and that the American people wanted this behind them, then complained that the process was going too quickly, which denied the President his constitutional rights. (I wonder why they are not upset at the fact Mr. Clinton tried to subvert that law and deny Paula Jones her constitutional right to a fair trial?) These are the same people that wanted to hear from Ken Starr - then they didn't - then they did. They said there were too many witnesses, then there weren't enough.
Consistency does not seem to be prevalent with the Democratic members of the judiciary committee.
And then at the end, after Kenneth Starr left, when Henry Hyde requested that 3 subpoenas be issued to obtain depositions, various Democrats, including Howard Berman (CA) Bobby Brown (VA),Barney Frank (MA) along with some others, complained that the issuing of subpoenas of additional people strayed from the Starr Report, and shouldn't the focus be on the Starr Report?! AMAZING - after hours of hearing the Democrats focus on everything BUT the Starr Report, they want to focus solely on the Starr Report again! CAN'T THEY MAKE UP THEIR MINDS? I suppose that is too much to ask.
I commend Kenneth Starr for an articulate and accurate performance during his long 12 hour day of almost constant inquisition. His case was strong, and, Judiciary Committee Democrats, unable to counter Starr's testimony, due to the overwhelming evidence, chose to ignore the relevant facts and preferred to make the hearing a partisan side show. I am ashamed at the blatant theatrics and time-wasting which was demonstrated by Kendall and the Democratic members of the judiciary committee, and the fact that they so blatantly ignored the issue at hand: the issues of perjury, obstruction of justice, and abuse of power. THAT, is an outrage.
This article copyright © 1998 by Carolyn Gargaro, and may not be reproduced in any form without the express written consent of its author. All rights reserved.
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