... 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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
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

International Promotions Manager - Consumer Products

competitive + bonus + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: A global entertainment busi...

Data Warehouse & Business Intelligence Co-ordinator

£35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: This new opportunity has responsibilities des...

Geography Teacher

£19200 - £33600 per annum + pre 12 week AWR : Randstad Education Manchester Se...

Physics Teacher

Main Teacher Pay Scale : Randstad Education Leeds: Physics Teacher January 201...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?