Explosive Starr report outlines case for impeachment
Document provides sordid details of the Clinton-Lewinsky relationship
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Sept. 11) -- In an explosive report to Congress, Independent Counsel Ken Starr outlines a case for impeaching President Bill Clinton on 11 grounds, including perjury, obstruction of justice, witness-tampering and abuse of power, while providing graphic details of the sexual relationship between the president and former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
The report, released Friday afternoon on the Internet, claims that Clinton took actions "inconsistent with the president's constitutional duty to faithfully execute the laws."
A House vote earlier in the day paved the way for release of the first 445 pages of Starr's report, with an estimated 2,600 pages of supporting materials still awaiting House Judiciary Committee review.
In the introduction of his referral to the House, Starr accuses Clinton of lying under oath "in a civil deposition while he was a defendant in a sexual harassment lawsuit" and "to a grand jury."
Starr's prosecutors also allege Clinton "attempted to influence the testimony of a grand jury witness who had direct knowledge of facts that would reveal the falsity of his deposition testimony; attempted to obstruct justice by facilitating a witness' plan to refuse to comply with a subpoena; attempted to obstruct justice by encouraging a witness to file an affidavit that the president knew would be false ... ; lied to potential grand jury witnesses, knowing that then they would repeat those lies before the grand jury; and engaged in a pattern on conduct that was inconsistent with his constitutional duty to faithfully execute the laws."
In a detailed narrative, Starr traced the findings of his investigation from the time Lewinsky first began her White House internship, through the beginning and end of her sexual relationship with Clinton to the present status of the independent counsel's grand jury probe.
The report concludes with a legalistic section entitled "Grounds," in which Starr summarizes the supporting evidence to the 11 grounds for possible impeachment of the president.
Solving one outstanding mystery of the investigation, the report reveals that physical evidence on a dress owned by Lewinsky included a semen stain with DNA matching Clinton's blood sample.
The report cites testimony about the president's conversations with a number of witnesses in the Starr investigation, including Lewinsky and White House secretary Betty Currie. Starr alleges these conversations amount to witness-tampering and obstruction of justice by hiding evidence and giving misleading accounts to lawyers for Paula Jones, who sued Clinton for sexual harassment and employment discrimination.
The report also contains explicit details of the nature of the sexual relations between Clinton and Lewinsky.
Several sex acts detailed in the documents, as alleged by Lewinsky in her grand jury testimony, include phone sex, one sex game and one unusual sex act. According to the report, the two had 10 sexual encounters.
Lewinsky says her first sexual encounter with the president took place on November 15, 1995, the second day of the government shutdown.
Lewinsky was led into the president's study located off the Oval Office, through the back door from then-White House aide George Stephanopolous' office. Once there, Clinton and Lewinsky kissed and Lewinsky unbuttoned her jacket.
Then, according to Lewinsky, the president touched her breasts with his hands and mouth and fondled her genitals. At one point, she believed he answered a telephone call, and as he spoke on the phone, she performed oral sex on him.
"I think he made a joke ... that he hadn't had that in a long time." the report quoted Lewinsky as saying.
The second sexual encounter between Clinton and Lewinsky took place two days later, according to Lewinsky. The then-intern was ushered into the president's office by Currie, when Lewinsky told Currie she had a pizza for the president.
Starr defended his use of explicit sexual detail as "indispensible" because it bolsters Lewinsky's credibility and contradicts the president's denial of sex with Lewinsky in the Jones case, even under the definition of sex given by Jones' lawyers.
"According to Ms. Lewinsky, the president touched her breasts and genitalia, which means his conduct met the Jones definition of sexual relations even under his theory," Starr wrote. "On these matters, the evidence of the president's perjury cannot be presented without specific, explicit and possibly offensive descriptions of sexual encounters."
Previous to the investigation, Lewinsky disclosed her relationship with the president to 11 people. They included her friends Dale Young, Ashley Raines and Natalie Ungvari, all of whom testified before Starr's grand jury over the past eight months.
Lewinsky testified she fell in love with Clinton and believed, at one point, that he fell in love with her. The report quoted her as saying there was "a lot of hugging, holding hands sometimes. He always used to push the hair out of my face."
She called him "Handsome," while he sometimes called her "Sweetie," "Baby" or "Dear," the report said.
The House cleared the release of the first 445 pages of Starr's report on a 363-63 vote, after two hours of floor debate.
The tone of the debate left in doubt the supposed spirit of bipartisanship, but in the final vote, only 63 Democrats opposed the resolution. Nine members did not vote.
Shortly after the vote, officials broke the seals on the boxes Starr sent to Congress containing the report, with copies given to the two ranking members of the Judiciary Committee and their staffs. The president's legal team also got a copy.
Taking its usual proactive stance, Clinton's legal team released its preliminary rebuttal shortly after 12:30 p.m. EDT, before Starr's report was even made public.
Just before the House vote, Rep. Henry Hyde and Rep. John Conyers -- the chairman and the ranking minority member of the House Judiciary Committee respectively -- took opposite positions on the resolution on whether to release the report on the Internet Friday afternoon.
Conyers reversed himself on his earlier support for the resolution, noting that Starr himself had said the report contained confidential information under the rules of criminal procedure.
Hyde followed Conyers to the podium to note the debate had become "really partisan," and to denounce what he called White House efforts to discredit Starr earlier this year.
The resolution went to the full House after it was approved by the House Rules Committee Thursday night. In committee, Republicans beat back an attempt to give the White House advance access to Starr's report.
Procedure for report's release, White House rebuttal
Hyde again rebuffed those calls during the floor debate, saying the White House would receive the third paper copy of the report, following its release to him and Conyers.
"The time has come for the American people, for the members of Congress to get this report," Hyde said.
"The president will get copy number three. He will get it as soon as we get it and as soon as the American people get it. He's not caught by surprise. He's the party of the first part, he knows what's in the report better than anybody on the planet, but to give the spin machine an opportunity to be the first impact on the American people before we the members have seen this report -- it's not bipartisanship, it's foolishness."
Lawmakers made the hard copies available after the House floor vote.
And in an agreement reached between Clinton attorney David Kendall and Hyde, the preliminary White House rebuttal report was to be attached to the report as an exhibit.
The White House rushed to finish that rebuttal for publication on the Internet, too.
The White House intends to release a second rebuttal Saturday.
Hyde and Conyers took possession of hard copies of the report following the vote and a digital version was posted on an internal computer network for House members only.
The report was made available to the world on the Library of Congress' Thomas Web site (Thomas.loc.gov/icreport), as well as CNN.com and many other news media Web sites.
The next step will be for Judiciary Committee staff to review and edit about 18 boxes of supporting materials from Starr over the next two weeks. That will occur before any further release. Overseeing that process will be Hyde and Conyers.
A heated partisan debate that occupied the Rules Committee meeting carried over to the House floor Friday as Democrats objected to a violation of the agreement between House Speaker Newt Gingrich and House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt that would have allowed only Hyde and Conyers to review the sensitive materials outside of the original 445 pages.
Rules Committee Chairman Gerald Solomon said the deviation from the bipartisan agreement follows a precedent set in the Watergate inquiry.
While the questions of White House access to the report and the procedure for reviewing the supporting evidence quickly touched off partisan rhetoric, members agreed on the gravity of the situation they are facing.
In an impassioned speech, Gephardt urged his colleagues not to let consideration of presidential impeachment proceedings turn into a partisan "witchhunt."
"I beg of you to do this right," he said, calling on members not to leak any depositions or other supplementary data.
"This is a body of 435 human beings. We are called on to be bet