Part of the point of including all that information was to bolster her credibility. Because on some of the crucial things, it was her account versus his account. She had an incredible memory. One involved the fact that Lewinsky, as I remember, used Betty Currie to get material to the president—if she gave him a gift, it went to Betty Currie, and it was sort of a back channel. So that ended up not making the cut. David Kendall: The Starr Report made no attempt to summarize accurately the evidence the Office of the Independent Counsel had developed.
A statement that remarkably was not included in the report was this one, from Ms. They carried 36 boxes of evidence. Capitol Police officers conveyed the boxes to a locked room set aside for members of Congress. Some Republicans, like Representative Bill McCollum, of Florida, felt that Democrats were never interested in a good-faith consideration of whether Clinton might be worthy of impeachment.
On September 11, the House voted —63 to release the report to the public. Barney Frank was a Democratic congressman from Massachusetts.
Bill M c Collum: You could go over there anytime you wanted, but it was basically under lock and key. Any House member could go.
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Stephen Bates: We thought Congress would just use the report for their own purposes. During Watergate, the House Judiciary Committee was allowed to see it and nobody else, and it never went public.
In retrospect, I guess it was naive to think the same thing would happen in The only model we had was the Jaworski report, and how Congress treated that report as secret. And then Congress voted to release the Starr Report unread.
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David Kendall: There was no need for Starr to send the detailed, pornographic report to Congress. In his grand-jury testimony in August , the president had admitted that when he was alone with Ms. The specific anatomical details were not relevant to anything, but Starr used the compelled testimony of Ms. Lewinsky to paint a detailed, lengthy, and graphic account of their relationship. To what end? To humiliate and demean both people. Julian Epstein: The day we got that report, we knew it was over.
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We were certain of two things. The second thing was how much ammunition the report gave us—just the countless pornographic details and how unprofessional the work itself was from a legal standpoint. All this stuff about cigars and all the other gratuitous sexual things were absurd. The foolishness of Starr and the Republicans not to see how the sexual material in the report would backfire was just jaw-dropping to us. Barney Frank: In September, Starr sends Congress a report—the congressional elections are in November—saying that the president has behaved badly and we can impeach him.
He does not mention the other items he had been investigating, with one exception. Early on they had said that Vince Foster had killed himself—that the idea of murder was ridiculous. His answer was all mumbo jumbo.
Called to the Fire
The decision to release the Starr Report created an opportunity for the fledgling publishing house PublicAffairs. The PublicAffairs edition of the Starr Report was an immediate best seller. Peter Osnos: It was announced on a Tuesday that it would come out on a Friday. I called The Washington Post and asked them if they would give us a disc of the report and the first-day Post coverage, which we could then use as the basis for the book. We struck a deal. That was Tuesday. That was Thursday. Friday, the report was released, and we were in the newsroom of The Washington Post to pick up the disc.
Books started arriving in stores midday Monday, shipped by air. Darrell Hammond: In the videotapes, when Clinton was being questioned, he did the most interesting thing: He elongated his neck slightly, as a form of physical rectitude. When he got to engage these great legal minds in a debate over the meaning of the word is , that debate went on just long enough for the audiences I was playing for around the country, anyway, to decide this thing was just silly.
The biggest change in the media landscape as impeachment unfolded—and one that impeachment accelerated—was the emergence of the cable-news channels Fox, CNN, and MSNBC into a position of influence. I was now a private citizen and a volunteer to help the president. It was very difficult, physically and mentally. In August I had to go into the hospital because I had something called diverticulitis. He says he wants to talk about oral sex.
Sally Quinn of The Washington Post published one in the fall of James Carville: I can easily tell you what the high point of that whole time was. The high point was the Sally Quinn piece in The Washington Post where every fool was mouthing off about how Washington was a village and how dare the Clintons intrude on their turf.
No one could stop laughing at that. David Broder—just priceless. Clinton remained popular with the public. After he denied an affair with Lewinsky in January, his Gallup approval rating spiked 10 points, to 69 percent. It remained in the 60s until the impeachment vote in December, when it shot up again, to 73 percent. Lanny Davis: Everybody in the country got it in about a week. Bad judgment. Whatever you want to say. Nothing to do with abuse of presidential power.
Nothing to do with the impeachment clause. He had publicly apologized to the country, to Ms. Lewinsky, and to his wife and family. It took all of Washington, including me, about a year to figure that out. On October 5, , the House Judiciary Committee voted to launch an impeachment inquiry, followed by the full House three days later. Gingrich predicted that the Republicans would add significantly to their majority. Instead, the Democrats gained five seats in the House.
Although the Republicans retained the majority, Gingrich was weakened and planned to resign his seat. Bob Livingston, of Louisiana, was expected to be elected the next speaker. Bob Livingston: We should have, when Clinton got into trouble, just not focused on his problems in the media. James Rogan: Suddenly the Republicans realized all this talk about impeachment almost cost them the majority. The speaker lost his job because of it. Barney Frank: It was always my view that Henry Hyde, the Judiciary chair, did not want to go ahead and press impeachment all the way, but Tom DeLay [the majority whip] was calling the shots and kept pushing them and pushing them.
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As the Judiciary Committee began its inquiry, the typically rule-obsessed House had little sense of how to proceed. The Constitution lays out no specifics, and no president had been impeached since Andrew Johnson, in Members modeled the process on the Nixon investigation, a quarter century earlier. Charles Johnson was the House parliamentarian. Charles Johnson: The rules governing the actions of the Judiciary Committee almost entirely mirrored what had gone on in the Nixon investigation.
We had gone back to the journals of the Johnson impeachment, which were written in quill pen. Of course, by the time articles of impeachment were ready to come to the floor, Nixon had resigned. The White House presented as witnesses several veterans of the Watergate process as well as the Princeton history professor Sean Wilentz. Sean Wilentz: I wanted to be as direct as possible about what the stakes were. There were still some House Republicans not on the committee who were on the fence, and I wanted to make it clear to them that impeachment was a terrible thing as far as the Constitution was concerned, that voting for impeachment for partisan or self-interested reasons was what the Framers had feared.
I wanted to find some way to say that. History tracked me down.