Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
February 1, 2007
LAW/POLITICS: Memorable Experiences

Ann Coulter (yes, yes, I know; standard Coulter-related disclaimers apply) offers a sensible and practical assessment of why the perjury case against Lewis Libby is so much weaker than was the case against Bill Clinton:

The exact same people who are now demanding prison for Libby for not remembering who told him about Plame are the ones who told us it was perfectly plausible for Bill Clinton to forget that Monica Lewinsky repeatedly performed oral sex on him in the Oval Office. Even if chubby Jewish brunettes aren't your type, be honest: Which of the two events would stand out more in your memory? . . .

Here are some simple illustrations. If Clinton had been asked how many sexual encounters it took for him to remember Monica's name (six) and he got the answer wrong, it would not be perjury since, like Monica's name, it's an easy thing to forget.

If Clinton had been asked whether he talked to Rep. Jim Chapman and then to Rep. John Tanner, or to Rep. Tanner and then to Rep. Chapman while Monica was performing oral sex on him in the Oval Office and he got the answer wrong, that would not be perjury because it's not relevant to the investigation. (Correct answer: Chapman, then Tanner.)

But when Clinton was asked under oath -- in a case brought by Paula Jones under the law liberals consider more sacrosanct than any passed in the 20th century, Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act: "Mr. President ... at any time were you and Monica Lewinsky alone together in the Oval Office?" and he answered, "I don't recall," that was perjury.

Of course, there's also the matter of relevance. Libby was interviewed by federal agents in October and November 2003 and questioned by the Grand Jury in March 2004 - after it was already known to the Special Prosecutor that the Plame leak had come from Richard Armitage. Clinton, by contrast, was answering a series of questions that a federal judge had specifically ordered to be answered on grounds that they were relevant to an ongoing civil case in pretrial discovery, in which the core question (did Clinton sexually harass another subordinate?) had not been resolved.

Perjury being a serious crime, I'm still willing to give Fitzgerald something of the benefit of the doubt on the decision to indict, but there's no question that his evidence is significantly weaker, the defense significantly more plausible, and the case for bringing charges at all significantly more attenuated than in Clinton's case.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:16 PM | Law 2006-08 • | Politics 2007 | Comments (15) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

The last thing everyone and anyone associated with the Libby trial should worry about is Libby's perjury. The problem now is everyone actually telling the truth and the bodies are beginning to pile up under the bus wheels. Libby is not taking one for the team and this is only going to get uglier (actually, it would be a scream if the trial was not about what it is about) by the day.

By the way, posting anything from Coulter is ridiculous. She has so little credibility (self-inflicted) other than to Fox "News" watchers that it only hurts to be associated with her particular brand of crazy.

Posted by: jim at February 1, 2007 1:02 PM

I know lawyers are supposed to do the law, but that can so easily fly in the face of common sense and what the law was intended to uphold.

Technically, you can say that Clinton committed perjury, but, even as President, he basically lied about a sexual encounter, to evade a lawsuit. Making him a lying cad. No argument about it.

Libby is charged with lying about an investigation regarding an active CIA agent while in the midst of a terrorist war--really ugly and bloody, the more conservative you are, the dirtier the war.

Is one lie different from another? In the technical sense, maybe not--I'm not a lawyer, but I would think perjury is perjury. But are they really the same? By common sense rules, no.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at February 1, 2007 1:34 PM

Daryl, Valerie Plame hadn't been "an active CIA agent" for five years. She had a desk job at Langley of which most of her friends were aware. Her identity had only slightly more to do with the war on terrorism than Monica Lewinsky had to do with Whitewater.

But I do agree that somehow Libby's perjury (if true) seems more odious than Clinton's, if -- a big if -- you focus only on the false statements themselves and separate the fact that Clinton was a sitting President at the time.

Posted by: WD at February 1, 2007 3:00 PM

I don't think there was ever a big debate about whether Clinton committed perjury, but I wasn't paying that much attention. I'm sure there were some people claiming he didn't, you can find people to argue anything. The real argument was about whether the offense was important enough to warrant his impeachment.

Posted by: Devin McCullen at February 1, 2007 3:28 PM

Gee, lying under oath in a legal proceeding? I would call that pretty damn serious, and more serious because there was no plausible official-capacity justification for it.

And since we're talking about perjury, we won't get into the obstruction of justice charge, which in some ways was more serious than the perjury.

Posted by: Attila (Pillage Idiot) at February 1, 2007 3:57 PM

Blow job Outing a CIA agent.

I am a lawyer, and I didn't even know they were equivalents. I'm getting on the horn with my old law school professors today to ask them why they didn't teach me this one. And why they wasted my time assigning Oliver Wendell Holmes, Benjamin Cardozo, and Learned Hand, but neglected to expose me to the brilliant jurisprudential ponderings of Ann Coulter.

Open note to Republicans: Get over the blow job, fellas.

Posted by: Mike at February 2, 2007 8:04 AM

Mike,

It is the goofs on the left who need to get over the blow job. Ignore the blow job and consider the facts. You have an individual who was asked a specific question under oath which was germane to the case and knowingly lied in an effort to influence the outcome of the case. If you had professors in law school who told you that it wouldn't be perjury to lie in above scenario then you need to go demand your money back for those classes.

Whether Libby is guilty of intentionally lying or only failed to remember who told who what is what this trial will determine. What Coulter is trying to say is it is plausible that since Libby speaks to lots of people that it is more possible that when questioned 6 months to a year later he could misremember specifics, but there is no chance a blow job is forgettable (unless you're getting a lot of them). I don't necessarily agree, but he needs to convince jurors not me. Obviously, he would have been better off being more vague in responding to the questions.

Posted by: largebill at February 2, 2007 8:53 AM

Does the left need to get over a blowjob, or does the right need to deal with the issue of never getting one? The simple truth is Clinton cheated on his wife, and lied about it. Inappropriate, and it certainly affected a lawsuit with an individual. However, such crimes, and yes, lying under oath is a crime, do NOT affect the business of running a country. And spare me the virtue crap; Lincoln ended that with "It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues." No one on this board yet has convinced me they are smarter than Abe.

So Clinton's perjury is NOT in the same category as Nixon's obstruction, or Libby on a CIA agent. Both are national concerns. His issues with Paula Jones are between Hillary, Bill and Paula. And to be evenhanded, I consider LBJ to be a lot worse than any of them (check how he stole his election in the 40s in Texas).

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at February 2, 2007 12:19 PM

Daryl, I agree with your last paragraph. Of note, nobody, Fitz included, claims that Libby was the source that outed Plame/Wilson. Jim's delusions aside, he looks to be doing quite well.

Posted by: abe at February 2, 2007 6:40 PM

LOL....The straw jar must be empty Crank...Quoting Coulter is screaming from the grave.

Will you zealots get over Clinton already....it's become a phobia for you...hasn't it?

Posted by: Frank at February 3, 2007 7:50 PM

I would like to believe that we have seen the last of the Clintons on the national political stage, but the evidence is to the contrary.

Posted by: The Crank at February 3, 2007 7:59 PM

The worst thing for Hillary is the "Right" getting over her/Bill. She is weak on her left, best case Hannity and Rush attack. Lightweights like Obama and Edwards wil drift into the wind. And I know every jackass declares, but chris dodd? Shitshow monkey, he is unfit to wear a well cut suit, let alone lead the country.

Posted by: abe at February 3, 2007 11:27 PM

I would like to believe that we have seen the last of the Clintons on the national political stage

I'm happy to note an area upon which we're in complete agreement, Crank: the day Hillary gets her ass knocked out of politics forever is a day I'll celebrate.

Posted by: Mike at February 4, 2007 9:59 AM

WD, what non-right wing source do you have for Plame not being an active CIA agent? Truth is, her role in counterproliferation has not been fully discussed, nor can it be, likely. But it was true that Brewster Jennings was outed by this ouster, and that is a BJ worth worrying about since it was the CIA's eyes and ears about nuclear proliferation in the region. Hmmm...who does it benefit to not have truth about nuclear proliferation in Iraq and Iran? Wouldn't be Cheney and his ilk, now, would it?

Posted by: AstroFan at February 5, 2007 5:29 PM

Stro, Hmm, that's deep deep under cover when you send your husband on a fact finding mission and allow him to published his thoughts on the NYTimes OpEd page. All kidding aside, If that was the case there is something to be said for Darwinism. Worst case, rot in Vanity Fair.

Posted by: abe at February 9, 2007 8:26 PM
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