The Starr Report: The case for and against - How do the charges against Clinton stack up?

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The Independent Online
Clinton lied about having sex with Monica Lewinsky.

Starr says he lied in the Paula Jones case and to the grand jury when he said he didn't have a sexual relationship with Lewinsky. Even on the definition adopted in that case, he did have sex.

But the White House says the affair fell outside the strict Paula Jones definition of sexual relations. It was oral sex, which isn't covered by it. Anyway, proving perjury requires more than one witness, and only Lewinsky was there, so it's her word against the President's.

Conclusion: The sex issue is the bedrock on which all else stands or falls. Legally, the White House has a case and could defend the charge in court. But that won't wash before public opinion. It's clear Clinton lied in the Jones trial; it's slightly less clear he lied to the grand jury on this point, since he admitted oral sex.

Clinton hid the relationship.

Starr says the President and Lewinsky agreed to a cover story about their liaison and he asked her to send an affidavit in the Jones case, rather than appearing in person, to deceive the court.

The White House says this story was to keep the relationship secret from colleagues and his family. Clinton never asked her to lie and she says as much. Sending an affidavit isn't illegal, and he never suggested an illegal affidavit. Its hard to stand up the Starr charge in court.

Conclusion: As the report acknowledges, much of the evidence is not that solid.

The President went job-hunting for Lewinsky.

Starr says the President orchestrated an effort to get Lewinsky a job in New York to prevent her from testifying to the Jones case. The White House says the President wasn't directly involved in the job search, and it was her idea to get the White House to help. The subject was raised five months before her name appeared on a witness list. There was no corrupt intention; he just thought she needed help.

Conclusion: Senior officials aren't in the business of helping young women in their twenties find gainful employment.

The President engaged in an abuse of power.

Starr says that by claiming executive privilege, refusing to testify, and misleading the American public, the President abused his constitutional powers.

The White House says he was quite within his rights to claim executive privilege, and his false denial to the American people doesn't count as an abuse of power.

Conclusion: This is the most serious charge, but a decision here falls to the Congress rather than the law.

The President should be impeached.

Starr says the charges are of sufficient seriousness, and the evidence credible enough, to warrant impeachment. The White House says that it is a personal matter, and the President has apologised.

Conclusion: It is the American people themselves, ultimately, who will be the jury and there is, as yet, no consensus.

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