Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Carpetbagger's Very Good Idea

November 01, 2005
The Starr standard
Posted 2:53 pm | Printer Friendly

Seven years ago, Ken Starr prepared a lurid report for Congress detailing his case against Bill Clinton. At first blush, it wouldn't appear to have any relevance to the Plame scandal affecting the Bush White House, but I was reviewing the Starr report recently and something jumped out at me.

After he laid out the "narrative" of Clinton's alleged transgressions, Starr wrote a section he called "Grounds." In it, Starr details what he described as "acts that may constitute grounds for an impeachment." There were 11 in all, most of which dealt with Clinton's grand jury testimony and remarks during a deposition in Paula Jones' civil suit. But the last of the grounds for impeachment went a little further.

* Beginning on January 21, 1998, the President misled the American people and Congress regarding the truth of his relationship with Ms. Lewinsky. […]

The President himself spoke publicly about the matter several times in the initial days after the story broke. On January 26, the President was definitive: "I want to say one thing to the American people. I want you to listen to me. I'm going to say this again: I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. I never told anybody to lie, not a single time. Never. These allegations are false."

The President's emphatic denial to the American people was false. And his statement was not an impromptu comment in the heat of a press conference. To the contrary, it was an intentional and calculated falsehood to deceive the Congress and the American people.

Remember, when Clinton made those remarks, he wasn't under oath; he was answering a reporter's question. For Starr, it didn't matter. Here was a constitutional officer lying to the country, on national television, about a subject that was under a federal investigation. Starr said this was, quite literally, an impeachable offense.

With this in mind, if there was evidence that a constitutional officer in the current White House had lied to the country, on national television, about a subject that was under a federal investigation, under the Starr standard, it too would constitute an impeachable offense.

Well, it just so happens….

In particular, I'm thinking about Dick Cheney, who claimed on Meet the Press in 2003:

"I don't know Joe Wilson. I've never met Joe Wilson. A question had arisen. I'd heard a report that the Iraqis had been trying to acquire uranium in Africa, Niger in particular. I get a daily brief on my own each day before I meet with the president to go through the intel. And I ask lots of question. One of the questions I asked at that particular time about this, I said, 'What do we know about this?' They take the question. He came back within a day or two and said, 'This is all we know. There's a lot we don't know,' end of statement. And Joe Wilson — I don't who sent Joe Wilson. He never submitted a report that I ever saw when he came back."

Patrick Fitzgerald's indictment against Scooter Libby highlights just how little of what Cheney said was true. Despite his denials, Cheney requested and received a briefing on Wilson's trip to Niger from the CIA.

Cheney also told Libby about Plame working at the CIA and may have advised Libby on how to deal with questions about Wilson during a July 12, 2003, plane trip on Air Force Two.

Am I saying that Cheney's intentional and calculated falsehoods on Meet the Press are grounds for impeachment? No, I'm saying that they're grounds for impeachment using Ken Starr's standards.

Is Cheney a constitutional officer? Yes. Did he lie to the country? Yes. On national television? Yes. About a subject that was under a federal investigation at the time? Yes.

Don't blame me; Ken Starr is the one who created the standard. I'm just wondering if it only applies to Democrats.


CB, how do you remember the wording of the Starr report seven years later?

Comment by Gary — 11/1/2005 @ 3:24 pm

but, 9/11 changed everything.

Comment by bubba — 11/1/2005 @ 3:39 pm

how do you remember the wording of the Starr report seven years later?

I happened to be looking through the Starr report for a non-blog project when I stumbled upon the charge. Hmm, I thought, impeachment for lying, even when not under oath. How interesting…

Comment by Carpetbagger — 11/1/2005 @ 3:40 pm

Those may have been grounds for Starr, but even the House left "lying to the media" out of the Articles. House Republicans didn't want THAT precedent hanging over themselves, is my guess.

Comment by Alopex Lagopus — 11/1/2005 @ 3:48 pm

Let's put it to the GOP now. Starr said a president can be impeached for lying, not under oath, just in talking to a reporter. Do Republicans agree or would they agree that Starr was nuts. Their choice.

Comment by Brian — 11/1/2005 @ 3:53 pm

"I don't know Joe Wilson. I've never met Joe Wilson."

During the Gulf War, Cheney was SecDef and Wilson was Ambassador to Iraq. They never met?

Comment by benjoya — 11/1/2005 @ 3:58 pm

Now I may be wrong on this, but I think that the Oath of Office is supposed to be a binding Oath 24/7/365, etc. Meaning that officials that are sworn into office are bound to tell the truth by the Oath that they take, which is considered to be constantly in effect.

Any lawyers want to check me on this one?

Comment by Thinker — 11/1/2005 @ 4:16 pm

Seems like a good day.

Harry Reid is storming the beaches with a closed senate session and you, Mr. CB, are mining a vein of golden precedent for calling Cheney's bluff on his B.S.

It's not impossible to fight these guys. But it will take wit, creativity, perseverence and knowledge of how the system works. Those qualities are available, we just have to use them. And those are fun qualities. Most of lifes issues that would require similar efforts would be seen as challenges and great satisfaction would be derived from solving or minimizing the problem.

Comment by burro — 11/1/2005 @ 4:28 pm

Now, CB- All we need to do is preemptively collect all the Republican's soundbites and what they had to say supporting Ken Starr back then. I bet their arguments are very full of sh*t but still worth using against them whenever they argue the exact opposite to support this criminal administration.

Comment by Fade — 11/1/2005 @ 4:29 pm

Of course this only applies to Democrats. What were you thinking?!?!?

To be a Republican means never having to say your sorry.

Comment by The Bulldog Manifesto — 11/1/2005 @ 4:29 pm

ooops…that shoud say "you're" not "your".


Comment by The Bulldog Manifesto — 11/1/2005 @ 4:30 pm

Can you send your observations to Mr. Fitzgerald, PLEASE?

Comment by The Dude — 11/1/2005 @ 4:33 pm


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