Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
November 23, 1998
From an email I wrote in November 1998, prior to Bill Clinton being impeached by the House of Representatives.
While I continue to be appalled -- as a matter of principle -- by the prospect of settling for a 'censure' of the President (because it is clearly (1) an insufficient remedy (2) an overstepping of Congress' constitutional authority and (3) an unconstitutional Bill of Attainder), politics is nothing if not the art of the possible, so it is worth thinking about the many things that the House, the Senate (to have any effect, such a bill must be passed by both houses and signed by The Big Jerk), and possibly the Independent Counsel (if such a resolution is to be truly global) could demand:
1. The first nonnegotiable demand in any negotiated resolution of the impeachment proceedings must be a complete acceptance of responsibility and vindication of the rule of law by the Prez. He must not only admit to lying under oath and to -- at minimum -- failing to dissuade others from lying under oath in ways that were forseeable to him and worked to his benefit, but he must also concede that it was entirely legal and proper for the independent counsel to investigate him and entirely unjustified for the executive branch to carry on a concerted campaign to delay and frustrate the investigation and to smear duly authorized prosecutors who were exercising the executive power of the United States. He doesn't have to publicly absolve the GOP -- this ain't beanbag, after all -- but if he keeps blaming Starr there can be no peace and no true remorse.
2. He could be required to repay the costs of the 7-month investigation.
3. He could be barred from holding office.
4. He could agree to turn in his license to practice law.
5. It had been suggested that he could agree to remove the worst of his cronies from office, but many such as Morris and Carville are no longer formally employed anyway. But it would have to be people related to the Lewinsky thing -- asking for Janet Reno's head (or Bill Lann Lee's, for example) would likely be seen as overreaching.
6. He could plead guilty in federal court (say, a friendly forum such as Arkansas so the judge would buy the deal) with a recommendation of no jail time and fines & conditions in the amounts specified in the resolution.
7. OR, he could be left open to future prosecution.
9. He could be forced to agree explicitly not to pardon Susan McDougal or Webb Hubbell (though this too is probably unconstitutional).
10. Or, of course, in fine Washington tradition a backroom deal could be worked out relating to some issue -- Social Security reform, Supreme Court nominations, etc. -- but he would likely fail to abide by it.
Just some thoughts, to suggest that the Congressional Republicans may have more options than they let on.