More on Clinton

Greg Nowell GN842 at CNSVAX.Albany.Edu
Tue Oct 13 17:36:14 PDT 1998

New revelations demonstrate role of

right-wing lawyers, judges in anti-Clinton


By Martin McLaughlin

13 October, 1998

Press reports over the past week have revealed that a network of

right-wing lawyers played an important role in the campaign to destabilize

the Clinton administration, first through the Paula Jones lawsuit, and then

through the investigation by Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, which

has now culminated in the formal launching of an impeachment inquiry by

the Republican Congress.

These ultra-conservative lawyers have political connections throughout the

federal judiciary, reaching into its highest levels, among the Appeals Court

judges and Supreme Court justices who have made key decisions on the

Jones lawsuit and the Starr investigation. This political milieu includes Chief

Justice William Rehnquist, who will serve as presiding judge if Clinton is

impeached and brought before the US Senate for trial.

The first report on the right-wing legal network appeared in the Long

Island newspaper Newsday October 4, based on some of the 5,000 pages

of documents released by the House Judiciary Committee two days earlier.

Follow-up articles have since appeared in the New York Times, the Los

Angeles Times and the Washington Post, among others.

Those involved include:

* Richard Porter, a former White House aide to George Bush and Dan

Quayle, who did opposition research for the Republican campaign in

1992, and now works at Kirkland & Ellis, the huge Chicago law firm

where Kenneth Starr was until recently a partner. Concerned over the

appearances if a Starr law partner were openly supporting Paula Jones,

Porter served as a behind-the-scenes intermediary, getting other lawyers to

help in the Jones suit while he preserved a degree of separation from the


* Jerome Marcus, a Philadelphia lawyer and former law school classmate

of Porter's, whom Porter contacted to assist the lawyers for Paula Jones.

Marcus helped write the briefs which were filed with the US Supreme

Court before its May 1997 decision that Clinton would have to face the

civil lawsuit while still in office.

* George T. Conway III of New York, another friend of Porter's who

worked with Marcus on the Supreme Court briefs.

* Ann Coulter, a Washington lawyer, right-wing activist and frequent guest

on television talk shows, who assisted in the Jones lawsuit and wrote a

recently published book arguing for the impeachment of Bill Clinton.

All four lawyers were members of the Federalist Society, an association of

right-wing lawyers, numbering about 5,000, which also includes among its

members Kenneth Starr. All four had been active in providing legal

assistance for Paula Jones--as was Kenneth Starr, who was approached in

the spring of 1994 to write a friend of the court brief on behalf of the Jones

lawsuit. Starr cut short his involvement when he was named independent


According to the attorneys who took the Jones case to the Supreme

Court, Gilbert Davis and Joseph Cammarata, two other prominent

members of the Federalist Society were also contacted to provide

assistance. These were Robert Bork, the former Appeals Court judge

whose nomination to the US Supreme Court was defeated in the Senate in

1987, and Theodore Olson, a former Reagan Justice Department lawyer,

close friend of Starr and counsel to American Spectator, the magazine

which sparked the Paula Jones lawsuit with its "Troopergate" article on

Clinton's sexual affairs in Arkansas.

The role of Lucianne Goldberg

While this network of lawyers came together in support of the Jones

lawsuit, it was later instrumental in combining the Jones suit and the Starr

investigation. Here the key role was played by Lucianne Goldberg, the

friend and literary agent for Linda Tripp. Goldberg is a longtime right-wing

Republican activist who worked as a dirty trickster for Richard Nixon in

the 1972 presidential campaign, infiltrating the entourage of Democrat

George McGovern and serving as a political spy.

Goldberg first put Tripp in contact with the attorneys for Paula

Jones--some two months earlier than has previously been reported, in

mid-November 1997. She gave Tripp's unlisted number to David Pyke,

one of Jones's lawyers, and Tripp provided information about Clinton's

affair with Monica Lewinsky and revealed that she had tape recordings of

her telephone conversations with Lewinsky.

Pyke and Tripp had several discussions, and Pyke agreed not to subpoena

the tapes--which he knew were obtained illegally--provided that Tripp

gave a detailed account of the Clinton-Lewinsky affair which could be

used in the lawsuit. During this period Jones's lawyers sought and were

granted by a federal judge the right to question Clinton under oath about

past affairs, a key step in setting him up for perjury or obstruction of justice

charges. They also issued a subpoena for Monica Lewinsky's testimony

and for any gifts which Clinton might have given her, providing a list of such

gifts, which indicated they already had considerable knowledge of the


In early January Goldberg intervened to steer Tripp in the direction of

Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr. She told Tripp that her attorney,

Kirby Behre, was a "Clintonite," friendly with Clinton's attorney Robert

Bennett, and offered to find her a new lawyer. She first contacted Richard

Porter. The request was passed on via Marcus and Conway to Ann

Coulter, who supplied the name of Washington attorney James Moody,

also a member of the right-wing Federalist Society. Tripp later testified that

Moody turned her tapes of Monica Lewinsky over to Coulter for copying.

From Jones to Starr

On January 7, 1998, Goldberg called Porter again, seeking the name of

some official at Starr's office whom Tripp could contact. The request was

passed through the network again to Marcus, who called Paul

Rosenzweig, a law school classmate and former Republican congressional

staffer now working as an attorney at the Office of Independent Counsel.

Starr's office was thus tipped off at least four days before the January 12

phone call which Tripp has claimed was her first contact with the special


In another significant report, the Los Angeles Times revealed October 11

that Starr's prosecutors treated Tripp differently from any other witness in

his inquiry, not requiring her to remain silent about the evidence which she

was providing. After luring Lewinsky to a meeting at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel

January 16, where the former intern was detained by FBI agents and

prosecutors, Tripp contacted the attorneys for Paula Jones and gave them

further details of the Clinton-Lewinsky relationship.

Wesley Holmes, an attorney for Jones, and Tripp's attorney James Moody

went to Tripp's home in Columbia, Maryland the evening Lewinsky was

detained, and the night before Clinton was to give his deposition testimony

in the Jones lawsuit. The next day Clinton was asked 95 detailed questions

about his relations with Lewinsky, based entirely on information supplied

by Tripp.

This detail provides further confirmation that the Jones lawsuit and the

Starr investigation were deliberately coordinated to set a legal trap for

Clinton which could then be used as the grounds for impeachment. The

Times article declared, "Those actions raise a central question: Did Starr

help pave the way for Clinton to commit the alleged perjury that his

prosecutors then proceeded to investigate."

The Rehnquist-Nixon connection

The press reports on the right-wing legal network which worked behind

the scenes against the Clinton White House stop short, however, on one of

the most critical aspects of this affair. That is the role of the federal

judiciary, staffed with similar right-wing lawyers appointed by Reagan and

Bush, who have given the legal cover to this political provocation.

Any attempt to uncover the full dimensions of the dirty tricks operation

against the Clinton White House involves an examination of key actions by

the judiciary:

The July 1994 decision of a three-judge federal panel to remove

Robert Fiske as independent counsel and replace him with Kenneth

Starr. The three-judge panel was headed by David Sentelle, a

former aide to the extreme right North Carolina Senator Jesse

Helms. Sentelle was seen lunching with Helms and the other

Republican senator from North Carolina, Lauch Faircloth, the day

he made the decision to fire Fiske.

The US Supreme Court decision in May 1997 authorizing the Paula

Jones suit to go forward while Clinton was in office. Disregarding

previous precedents, a unanimous court declared that replying to a

civil suit could not conceivably be "disruptive" of the White House.

This was followed by the lower court ruling requiring Clinton to give

testimony under oath to Jones's attorneys about his past sexual


The series of Appeals Court and Supreme Court rulings last May

and June rejecting, for the most part, assertions of privilege made by

the White House, the executive branch, or Clinton personally, and

compelling virtually every White House employee to testify against

the president. In one particularly scathing opinion, Appeals Court

Judge Laurence Silberman--a former Nixon and Reagan

administration official and member of the Federalist

Society--declared that Clinton was "at war with the United States."

Especially significant is the role of William Rehnquist, the Chief Justice of

the Supreme Court. It was Rehnquist who selected Sentelle, over 11 more

senior judges, to head the three-judge panel which appoints special

prosecutors. It was Rehnquist who rejected several of Clinton's appeals on

legal privileges this summer. And it is Rehnquist who will serve as the

presiding judge if Clinton is impeached by the House of Representatives

and put on trial before the US Senate.

Rehnquist is a right-wing Republican--first active in the Arizona campaigns

of Barry Goldwater--who served as assistant attorney general in the Nixon

administration at the height of Nixon's war against domestic political

opposition. Rehnquist was the Justice Department official who approved

the notorious "Huston plan," drafted by White House aide Tom Huston,

under which concentration camps were to be set up to incarcerate

hundreds of thousands of opponents of the Vietnam War.

In 1971 he testified before a Senate committee in support of domestic

spying against antiwar protesters by US Army Intelligence, arguing that it

was legal under the president's authority to use the army to enforce laws

and suppress rebellions. In 1972, when a lawsuit challenging this spying

reached the Supreme Court, Rehnquist, by then an associate justice,

refused to recuse himself and supplied the decisive vote in a 5-4 decision

upholding the army.

After Rehnquist was nominated to the Supreme Court in October 1971 he

refused to discuss his views on whether the civil rights of antiwar

demonstrators should be respected. He told a Senate confirmation hearing

that he could not reveal what advice he had given Nixon on this subject, on

the grounds of "attorney-client privilege"--a statement of considerable irony

today, given his rulings this summer against Clinton.

Many of those involved in the Paula Jones and Monica Lewinsky cases

share Rehnquist's background in the Nixon Justice Department, a highly

politicized and extremely right-wing operation under John Mitchell, Nixon's

campaign manager who was convicted and imprisoned in the Watergate


Robert Bork was solicitor-general, the number three man in the

department, and fired Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox in the

infamous 1973 "Saturday night massacre," after Attorney General Eliot

Richardson and his deputy William Ruckelshaus refused to carry out

Nixon's orders. Laurence Silberman was Nixon's choice to replace

Ruckelshaus. Both Bork and Silberman were placed on the US Court of

Appeals for the District of Columbia by Ronald Reagan, where a colleague

and fellow Reagan appointee was Kenneth Starr.

Judges like Rehnquist, Silberman or Sentelle are bound by a thousand

threads to this very right-wing milieu. It is worth noting, in passing, that

Sentelle's wife is employed in Republican Senator Lauch Faircloth's office,

and that Silberman's wife, in her capacity as head of a right-wing women's

group, approached Kenneth Starr in 1994, asking him to prepare a brief in

support of Paula Jones!

These men did not put aside their political convictions when they assumed

judicial office. On the contrary, they sought judicial appointments in order

to carry out a right-wing agenda, reversing what they believed to be the

"excesses" of the 1960s--civil rights, abortion rights, antiwar protest, due

process rights for criminal defendants. Any serious investigation of the

political crisis in Washington must include the activities of these

reactionaries in black robes.

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Readers: The WSWS invites your comments. Please send e-mail.

-- Gregory P. Nowell Associate Professor Department of Political Science, Milne 100 State University of New York 135 Western Ave. Albany, New York 12222

Fax 518-442-5298

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