... and Newt kept muzzled over Clinton

THROUGHOUT the impeachment trial of Bill Clinton, there was always one puzzle: why was Newt Gingrich, the tousle-haired, pugilistic champion of the American right and Speaker of the House, keeping such a distance from the allegations of adultery and sexual misbehaviour against the President?

The answer is now only too clear, writes Andrew Marshall. Mr Gingrich, already known to be no champion of family values in his own life, was carrying on with someone else - a 33-year-old Congressional aide.

It began six years ago, when she was not that much older than Monica Lewinsky, she has admitted. Now, a torrent of sensitive and salacious sexual detail on Mr Gingrich is set to come spilling out, embarrassing the man who once thought that he, too, could be President. Mr Gingrich is facing retribution, and his party may join the firing squad.

His bitter divorce proceedings against Marianne, his second wife, are entertaining the nation much as Mr Clinton's saga of sexual incontinence did a year ago. Last week a judge ruled that Mr Gingrich must answer all the questions put to him by Marianne, which promises yet further sleaze for those who believe that politicians are constitutionally incapable of responsible behaviour.

Mr Gingrich filed for divorce in July, claiming that the marriage was "irrevocably broken". He has admitted his relationship with Callista Bisek, but denies that it is an affair. But she told the court in a deposition that though the relationship began in November 1993, when Mr Gingrich and his wife were legally separated, it continued after they were reconciled, and after Mr Gingrich was appointed to the august position of Speaker, which put him in line of succession to the presidency.

Ms Bisek, a tall blonde whose taste for sensible suits and pearls has been likened to Hillary Clinton's, works as an aide to the House Agriculture Committee and was reported as long ago as 1995 to be Mr Gingrich's "frequent breakfast companion".

According to her lawyers, he gave her a set of Callaway golf clubs and a pearl ring - "not even a really nice ring", one lawyer said, trying to erase the idea of an affair. "I don't think anybody's proud of the existence of the relationship," he said. "But it's a little different where you had a legal separation and something developed between two people."

Mr Gingrich told his wife he was seeing someone else last May, and that he wanted a divorce, but not that the affair had been going on for six years. That came out in an impromptu press conference. "I found out with the rest of the country," she told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "This is about a marriage. This is not about politics and another press conference. This is about my life."

Mr Gingrich was careful most of the time to distance himself from criticism of Mr Clinton's sexual behaviour during the impeachment process last year. "I've tried to make very clear that this is about the rule of law and it's about the law," he said then. "It's not about scandals in the gossipy sense or sexual behaviour in the gossipy sense. It's about whether or not the law has been violated."

He was already in a tricky spot. For a start, he was fined $300,000 for giving misleading information during an ethics investigation into his conduct. And his own family life is hardly a model of good behaviour. His mother's marriage to his father, "Big Newt", fell apart after three days. At 19 he married his maths teacher, Jacqueline. The couple were presented in campaign literature as the American Dream, and he criticised his opponent, Virginia Shapard, because her husband and children planned to stay in Georgia while she went to Congress: "When elected, Newt will keep his family together." Just over a year later, he filed for divorce.

He went to discuss the issue with Jacqueline while she was in hospital, recovering from a cancer operation. L H Carter, his campaign treasurer, told Mother Jones magazine that Newt said of Jacqueline: "She's not young enough or pretty enough to be the wife of the President. And besides, she has cancer."

During the 1974 campaign, several of his closest advisers realised he was having an affair, according to journalist David Osborne, He adds that a former aide approached Newt's car on one occasion with Gingrich's daughter, only to find that he was with a woman who had her head buried in his lap. He married Marianne in 1981.

In January, the Republicans are to celebrate the fifth anniversary of their arrival in Congress as the majority party in the House of Representatives. Mr Gingrich promised the party massive gains in last year's elections, but they lost seats. He resigned his post in the House and his seat shortly afterwards. His successor, Bob Livingston, lasted a few days until internecine warfare and revelations of his own sexual misadventures led him to resign. Now, Mr Gingrich himself may not be invited to the celebration.

The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
Life and Style

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)

Concerns raised phenomenon is threatening resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
The number of children in relative income poverty is currently 2.3 million in the UK

A Brazilian wandering spider
natureIt's worth knowing for next time one appears in your bananas
Life and Style
Time and Oak have developed a product that allows drinkers to customise the flavour and improve the quality of cheaper whiskey
food + drink

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Year 5 Teacher

£80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...

Software Developer

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...

Systems Analyst / Business Analyst - Central London

£35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...

Senior Change Engineer (Network, Cisco, Juniper) £30k

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...

Day In a Page

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past