Clinton lawyers denounce evidence

WHITE HOUSE lawyers wound up their defence of President Bill Clinton in the Senate yesterday, protesting that the charges against him were flawed and on no account justified his removal from office.

The ousting of a democratically elected president, the defence argued, would be a unique and momentous decision out of all proportion to the offences alleged and the achievements of his presidency. The last president to be subject to Senate trial, Andrew Johnson in 1868, was acquitted by a single vote.

To bolster their case, in style as well as substance, the defence team had co-opted Dale Bumpers, the newly retired Democrat senator from Mr Clinton's home state of Arkansas, to deliver the closing statement. Mr Bumpers, whose departure from the Senate last year was lamented in Washington and in his home state equally as the end of an era, lent to the White House defence the flights of soaring rhetoric and lofty principle that its arguments had mostly lacked.

Mr Bumpers was valuable not only as a practised advocate in the style to which the Senate aspires, but as an Arkansan, familiar with the President's background and the political mores of his home state. According to Arkansas natives, the shenanigans in and around the capital, Little Rock, at least in the past, make whatever Bill Clinton was up to in the White House look like adolescent naivete.

Mr Bumpers' closing oration followed two-and-a-half days in which defence lawyers had concentrated on the small print of the allegations against the President to cast doubt, if not completely discredit, the charges against him. On the opening day, Charles Ruff, the White House chief counsel, had challenged the evidence that Mr Clinton had instigated the concealment of presents that he had given to Monica Lewinsky.

The following day, Gregory Craig had cast doubt on the specific perjury charges against him, insisting that he never lied under oath, and Cheryl Mills - young, black and a White House deputy counsel - attacked the obstruction of justice charges and pleaded Mr Clinton's civil rights record in mitigation of his non-offences. Ms Mills, whose impassioned performance made her an overnight star in Washington, moved some senators close to tears with her defence of the "civil rights" President.

Yesterday, though, belonged to Dale Bumpers, whose contribution brought to a close six days of presentations - three by the House of Representatives' "prosecutors" and three by the White House - that have been increasingly lauded as attaining the height of judicial professionalism. They have also left the case exceptionally finely balanced, as prepared statements give way to two days of written questions from the senators.

Outside the Senate chamber - but perhaps even starting to seep inside - seemed to be a growing view that the trial might, after all, be concluded without calling "live" witnesses. Some believed that the combination of doubt cast on the evidence and Mr Clinton's triumphant State of the Union address combined to make the case against him unanswerable. Others felt that witnesses might be questioned by lawyers but that their answers would be sufficient, without the need for them to appear in person.

With even one of the President's fiercest critics, the right-wing evangelist, Pat Robertson, saying publicly that in his view it was "all over" and that Mr Clinton's State of the Union address had clinched it, the prospect of conviction looked even slimmer than before.

On Monday, the 100 senators are scheduled to vote on whether to dismiss the case or continue to the hearing of witnesses. The trial looks likely to continue.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
filmPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
News
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
people
News
General Election
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Administrator is requ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - Commercial Vehicles - OTE £40,000

£12000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion and growth of ...

Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - Sheffield - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer position with a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Leader - Plasma Processing

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Operations Leader is required to join a lea...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders