Legacy of lawlessness, cont.
After yet another federal judge ruled last week that President Clinton “willfully or intentionally” violated the law, it has become increasingly clear that Bill Clinton’s legacy of lawlessness continues apace, unimpeded by any consideration for laws or judicial precedents.
In 1998, William Jefferson Clinton became the only elected president ever to be impeached. Then, he became the first president ever cited for contempt of court and fined $90,000 for lying under oath. As a result, the incumbent president faces disbarment by the Arkansas Supreme Court, another first.
Last week, a federal judge accused President Clinton of having “the requisite intention for committing a criminal violation of the Privacy Act.” Finding that the president and his top aides knew they were subject to the act, U.S. District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth concluded that they “chose to violate its provisions” nonetheless. Mr. Clinton, it seems, gives all the appearances of being a one-man crime wave.
It was the latest unfavorable ruling for the administration in a four-year-old civil lawsuit filed against the White House by Judicial Watch on behalf of 900 former Reagan and Bush administration officials whose FBI files were improperly obtained by the White House. The suit charges that the Clinton administration violated their privacy rights. This latest ruling stems from Mr. Clinton’s decision in March 1998 to release several letters to him from Kathleen Willey. The day before Mr. Clinton made Mrs. Willey’s letters public, she appeared on “60 Minutes,” charging that Mr. Clinton had kissed her and made other explicit sexual advances towards her during a Nov. 29, 1993 meeting in the Oval Office to discuss her obtaining a full-time White House job to alleviate her family’s financial crisis. (Later that day, Mrs. Willey’s husband committed suicide.)
At the Wednesday news conference held after Judge Lamberth issued his ruling, Mr. Clinton said he had “reluctantly” disclosed the letters in order to “refute” the accusations of Mrs. Willey, who made them after she had become unwittingly ensnared in the lawsuit by Paula Jones, who alleged similar, but even more vulgar, actions by then-Gov. Bill Clinton. (It was for his false testimony in the Jones suit that U.S. District Court Judge Susan Webber Wright fined the president.)
“[W]hen the decision was made to release those letters,” Mr. Clinton said at his news conference, “I didn’t even have any conversation with anybody about the Privacy Act. I never though about it.” Even if true, the president’s failure to abide by Judge Lamberth’s June 1997 ruling, which subjected the Executive Office of the President (EOP) to the provisions of the Privacy Act, hardly amounts to a bona fide defense of his actions.
In this week’s ruling, Judge Lamberth argued that the president and the EOP were “fully aware of this court’s ruling … and that disclosure of the letters was therefore prohibited under the Privacy Act.” Conveying a high level of frustration that has come from years of dealing with the Clinton-Gore administration’s unrelenting obstruction and obfuscation, an evidently exasperated Judge Lamberth wrote, “This court simply does not understand why the EOP and the president, without any judicial decision to support their position, determined that they were free to directly disregard this court’s prior decision in the pending case.” Why? Because, as the judge surely must know by now, the president operates according to “Clinton rules,” which have nothing to do with the rule of law or judicial precedents.