- The Washington Times - Monday, August 21, 2000

It was supposed to be the day that Al Gore had the front page to himself, the day that he accepted the Democratic Party's nomination to run for president. Then the news broke Thursday that a new grand jury was hearing evidence on whether President Clinton had committed perjury or obstructed justice in connection with the Monica Lewinsky case. Suddenly Mr. Gore had to share the headlines. Democrats were furious.
"The timing of this leak reeks to high heaven," White House spokesman Jake Siewert said at the time. "Given the record of the Office of the Independent Counsel, the timing is hardly surprising." Robert Ray, the independent counsel who replaced Kenneth Starr, wasn't the only one to get the blame for what had happened. Some Democrats pointed fingers at supporters of Republican presidential nominee George W. Bush. "I'm going to tell you that the Bush people are really good… They leak that stuff like crazy and then stand back and say, 'Oh my, my,' how badly they fell about that, that should never have happened. And you will never find their fingerprints on it," said former Texas Gov. Ann Richards, a Democrat.
Perhaps that's because a Democrat had his fingerprints on it. On Friday Richard D. Cudahy, a member of a three-judge panel that oversees the work of Mr. Ray, released a statement saying that as a matter of fact it was he who had disclosed the information. A former chairman of the Wisconsin Democratic Party and a judicial appointee of President Carter in 1979, Judge Cudahy said he "inadvertently" disclosed the information to an Associated Press reporter who called to ask about the panel's decision to grant an extension to Mr. Ray's investigation. Judge Cudahy acknowledged his role "with apologies to all concerned."
Officials in Mr. Ray's office and in the Bush campaign, of course, had originally condemned the leak and denied they were the source of it. Will Democrats who assumed the worst of them now apologize too? Not at the White House. "We may never know the whole story here," Mr. Siewert told The Washington Post. Apparently the Clinton administration doesn't want to rule out the possibility that Judge Cudahy may be lying about his own culpability.
White House officials aren't the only ones who need to apologize to, as Dan Rather of CBS News put it in reporting the leak, the "Republican backed" independent counsel. Consider some of the more thoughtful attacks on Mr. Ray and the GOP when news of the leak broke:
"I don't know that it knocks Gore off message, but I think the timing is so suspect and so raw that I think everybody's going to react against it. It becomes obvious that Ray's office is acting as a persecution office, as a raw political office, not as a prosecutor's office." Rep. Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat, The Washington Times, Aug. 18.
"Announcing something like this on the day of a political convention is so partisan, so absurd, that it's not a question of passing the smell test. It doesn't even pass the giggle test." Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, Washington Times, Aug. 18.
The timing of the announcement "is the most political act that I think I have seen in my lifetime." Sen. John Breaux, Louisiana Democrat, The Washington Post, Aug. 19.
"It's a Republican dirty trick. If Clinton dropped dead tomorrow, they would dig him up and open a grand jury investigation." Rep. Charles B. Rangel, New York Democrat, The Washington Times, Aug. 19.
"If Republicans think that this is the way to victory in November, they're going to have another surprise like they did in '98. They should be ashamed of themselves for doing this." Rep. David Bonior, Michigan Democrat, The Washington Times, Aug. 18.
Which persons, Mr. Bonior, should be ashamed of themselves now?

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide