Briefly introduce the impeachment of the president. If it were established that the president sexually harassed women or discriminated against them, would such action be impeachable?
Use the example of District Judge Thomas Porteous and the example of William Clinton. Do not copy directly.
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11Mar2010 District Judge Thomas Porteous was charged with accepting bribes and making false statements under penalty of perjury. The House charged him with conduct incompatible with trust and confidence placed in a judge, a longstanding pattern of corrupt conduct, making false statements about his own bankruptcy, and making false statements to become a federal judge. At the start of the full Senate hearing, his attorney indicated he was willing to resign the following year. The Senate convicted him of the charges, removed him from office, and disqualified him forever of holding any U.S. office.
William Clinton Impeachment
In 1998 President Clinton was impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice, and in 1999 he was acquitted by the Senate.
Born in Arkansas, he became its Governor. He was a well-educated lawyer, who met Hillary Clinton at Yale law school. In 1992, at age 46, he became president. During his presidency the economy boomed, and he left office with a budget surplus. He enjoyed one of the highest approval ratings as a sitting president. He fashioned himself a political centrist.
In 1994 Kenneth Star, a former federal appellate judge and solicitor general, took over as Independent Counsel in the investigation of Bill and Hillary Clinton and others in the Whitewater fraud and the suicide of a white house lawyer.1 No charges arose from the suicide. The Whitewater fraud involved a real estate development that allegedly made loans to Clinton. The Clintons claimed to be passive investors. In that case Starr obtained convictions against Jim and Susan McDougal, Clinton’s successor as governor, and others. Starr unsuccessfully attempted to get information from Susan McDougal, who, with three other Whitewater defendants, was pardoned by Clinton on his last day in office.
A continuing shadow was cast by his personal sex life. In 1992, Gennifer Flowers stated she had an affair with him, which he initially denied but later admitted. In 1994, Paula Jones filed a lawsuit claiming that in 1991 as a state employee she was taken to a suite of Governor Clinton where he made abhorrent sexual advances, which she rejected. Jones learned that Monica Lewinski, a staffer at the White House, had an affair with Clinton and sought to depose him.
The president sought to delay the deposition and trial until he left office.
The Supreme Court ruled that there was no presidential immunity for unofficial conduct and the separation of powers did not require that a civil suit be delayed until he left office. The Court noted that the Judiciary may severely burden the President’s official conduct and require him to respond to the court’s process. The federal courts always have the power to review the legality of his unofficial conduct. Clinton v. Jones (1997).
In 1998, in the Jones law suit Clinton was deposed and denied ever having a sexual affair with Monica Lewinsky. She told a fellow White House staffer that she lied and people were helping her to get a job to buy her silence, while the staffer tape recorded their conversation. The staffer later contacted Starr. He believed that Clinton’s testimony in the deposition was false and commenced an investigation. Before his testimony in the federal grand jury hearing arranged at the White House, Clinton did not know that Starr had the DNA
1 For a comprehensive recent review of this investigation, see Kenneth Starr, Contempt: A Memoir of the Clinton Investigation (Sentinel 2018). The text for this class is Cass Sunstein, Impeachment: A Citizen’s Guide (Harvard 2017), and the author assisted in the defense of Clinton’s impeachment.
match on the blue dress. 2 At the hearing he admitted the sexual indiscretion and described it as “inappropriate conduct.” Clinton also testified Lewinski’s affidavit prepared by his lawyer in the Jones case that she had no sexual relations with him was “absolutely accurate.” When asked about this inconsistency, he gave an unintelligible definition of “is.” By phone he responded to questions of the grand jurors. One asked about oral sex being included in the definition of sex, but Clinton answered “no” if performed on him. Starr recommended 11 impeachable offenses to the House. Starr’s “chief wordsmith” on the charges of impeachment was Brett Kavanaugh, a lawyer on his staff.3
The House, relying on Starr’s investigation and his testimony, impeached Clinton on two charges: perjury to a grand jury (228-206) and obstruction of justice (221-212). The perjury was based on his relationship with Lewinski, his false statement in the Jones case, and attempts to tamper with witnesses. The obstruction of justice arose out of encouraging Lewinski to give false testimony, concealing gifts to Lewinski, attempting to get her a job, and attempting to tamper with possible testimony by his secretary.
Before the Senate both sides made presentations and then were asked questions written by the senators. Then the Senate reviewed excerpted videos of witnesses, including Lewinski’s. The Senate deliberated in secret and then announced both charges failed: perjury (45-55 for conviction with 10 out of the 55 Republicans against conviction) and obstruction of justice (50-50 for conviction). Clinton was “profoundly sorry” for his actions and words that created the 13- month ordeal.
In 1999 Judge Wright found Clinton guilty of civil contempt in the Jones lawsuit for giving false testimony about having sex with Monica Lewinski as demonstrated by his grand jury testimony. She imposed a fine of $96,000 and reimbursement for legal and travel expenses. Clinton did not appeal. Both the Arkansas Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court removed him from the roll of lawyers. Clinton ultimately settled his law suit with Jones by paying her $850,000, when, as noted by Starr, he would have been much wiser to settled the case at an earlier stage.4