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Richard A. Posner
Copyright Date: 1999
Published by: Harvard University Press
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    In a book written while the events were unfolding, Richard Posner presents a balanced and scholarly understanding of President Clinton's year of crisis which began when his affair with Monica Lewinsky hit the front pages in January 1998. With the freshness and immediacy of journalism, Posner clarifies the issues involved, carefully assesses the conduct of Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, and examines the pros and cons of impeaching President Clinton as well as the major procedural issues raised by both the impeachment in the House and the trial in the Senate. This book, reflecting the breadth of Posner's experience and expertise, will be the essential foundation for anyone who wants to understand President Clinton's impeachment ordeal.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-04232-2
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Dramatis Personae
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Chronology
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-15)

    The year-long political, legal, constitutional, and cultural struggle that began on January 21, 1998, when the world learned that Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr was investigating charges that President Clinton had committed perjury and other crimes of obstruction of justice (primarily subornation of perjury and witness tampering) in an effort to conceal a sexual affair with a young White House worker named Monica Lewinsky, is the most riveting chapter of recent American history. The investigation culminated on December 19, 1998, in the impeachment of President Clinton by the House of Representatives for perjury before a grand jury and for obstruction of...

  6. CHAPTER 1 The President’s Conduct
    (pp. 16-58)

    Monica Lewinsky, age twenty-one, fresh out of college, and attractive, aggressive, monied, and sexually experienced, became an unpaid White House intern in July 1995.¹ She and the President soon began flirting, though at first from a distance because as an intern she had no opportunity to get close to him. But in November, in consequence of a government shutdown caused by a budget standoff between the President and the Republican-controlled Congress, interns were assigned to work in the West Wing, where the Oval Office is located. Lewinsky had by this time turned twenty-two and been hired into a regular though...

  7. CHAPTER 2 Prosecution and Defense
    (pp. 59-94)

    The process by which crimes and other legal wrongs are investigated, prosecuted, judged, and punished or otherwise remediated is surrounded by a dense foliage of rules and customs. The best known are the rules of criminal procedure set forth in the Bill of Rights and other provisions of the federal Constitution, but there are many others; and the informal, extralegal customs that constrain the law-enforcement process are almost as important. For example, law-enforcement officials are not supposed to hate criminals. It is all right for the public to hate them, but the people charged with apprehending, convicting, and punishing them...

  8. CHAPTER 3 The History, Scope, and Form of Impeachment
    (pp. 95-132)

    The Constitution provides that the President and other federal officials shall be removed from office, and may be barred from holding a federal office in the future, upon impeachment by a majority vote of the House of Representatives and conviction by a two-thirds vote of the Senate of treason, bribery, or “other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”¹ The Senate may not impose any additional sanctions, although the impeached and convicted official remains liable to punishment in the ordinary course of criminal justice.²

    The meaning of the quoted language is critical to whether President Clinton committed impeachable offenses. And since “high Crimes...

  9. CHAPTER 4 Morality, Private and Public
    (pp. 133-169)

    Intelligent evaluation of the moral dimensions of the Clinton-Lewinsky mess requires distinguishing betweenprivate moralityandpublic morality. The former term refers to the duties that the moral code of a society imposes on people regardless of their office or job, the latter to the duties that the code imposes on people who occupy particular offices (not necessarily public). A lawyer has special moral duties—the domain of “legal ethics”—by virtue of his or her profession, as well as the moral duties that are common to all persons in his society. And so with every other profession and vocation,...

  10. CHAPTER 5 Should President Clinton Have Been Impeached, and If Impeached Convicted?
    (pp. 170-198)

    Having examined both the meaning of the key constitutional phrase “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” and the morality as well as legality of President Clinton’s conduct in the Lewinsky matter, I am ready to consider whether he should have been impeached for and convicted of those offenses, criminal or otherwise, that could have been proved with sufficient certitude on the basis of the public record. Later in the chapter, I consider alternative sanctions, such as censure.

    The questions that give this chapter its title may be unanswerable, and this for two reasons. The first is the uncertainty of the constitutional standard....

  11. CHAPTER 6 The Kulturkampf
    (pp. 199-216)

    Clinton has become a polarizing figure in American politics and culture as a result of the Lewinsky affair and its aftermath. I am particularly struck by how the “intelligentsia”—a word I’ll use to denote highly educated people, in this country mainly academics and journalists, who write books or articles dealing with matters of social or political significance—became passionately divided over the question of impeachment and more broadly over the proper evaluation of the entire business.

    It is important to distinguish polarization from disagreement. One should not be surprised that people disagree over how harshly to judge Clinton’s behavior,...

  12. CHAPTER 7 Lessons for the Future
    (pp. 217-261)

    The year-long politico-legal struggle that welled out of President Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky is a potentially rich source of insights about the present and lessons for the future. Some I have mentioned already, such as the change that the crisis has revealed in Americans’ conception of political leadership and in the forms of political combat, and the need of both houses of Congress for sensible and detailed rules to govern impeachment proceedings. I focus in this chapter on two other points, which turn out to be related to each other. One is the inadequacy of certain kinds of professional...

  13. CHAPTER 8 The Balance Sheet
    (pp. 262-266)

    The public life of the nation in 1998 and the first six weeks of 1999 was dominated by President Clinton’s struggle to retain his office. The struggle was deeply and not merely pruriently or dramatically interesting, though itwashigh drama—Wagnerian in intensity and protraction, with wonderful actors, the Clintons, in the lead roles, a supporting cast of hundreds, dramatic revelations aplenty (the tapes, the dress, the sex lives of Republican Congressmen), a splendid libretto by Kenneth Starr,¹ a Greek chorus of television commentators; plus hapless walk-ons, clandestine comings and goings, betrayals, suspense, reversals of fortune, hints of violence...

  14. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 267-268)
  15. Index
    (pp. 269-276)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 277-277)