THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP
HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN
JOINED BY: PATRICK BUCHANAN, ELEANOR CLIFT,
TONY BLANKLEY, AND MICHAEL BARONE
TAPED FRIDAY, JANUARY 22, 1999
AIRED THE WEEKEND OF JANUARY 23-24, 1999
TRANSCRIPT BY: FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE
620 NATIONAL PRESS BUILDING
WASHINGTON, DC 20045
FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE IS A PRIVATE FIRM AND IS NOT AFFILIATED WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.
COPYRIGHT* 1999 BY FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE GROUP, INC., WASHINGTON, DC 20045, USA. NO PORTION OF THIS TRANSCRIPT MAY BE COPIED, SOLD, OR RETRANSMITTED WITHOUT THE WRITTEN AUTHORITY OF FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE GROUP, INC..
*COPYRIGHT IS NOT CLAIMED AS TO ANY PART OF THE ORIGINAL WORK PREPARED BY A UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE AS A PART OF THAT PERSON'S OFFICIAL DUTIES.
ANNOUNCER: GE is proud to support the McLaughlin Group. From plastics to power generation, GE: We bring good things to life.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: lawyers' Olympics.
CHIEF JUSTICE WILLIAM REHNQUIST: (From videotape.) The chair is of the view that the Senate is not simply a jury; it is a court.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: During the Clinton impeachment case, senators are supposed to have morphed their chamber into a trial courtroom. This comports with the Constitution. "The Senate shall have the sole power to try all impeachments."
But instead of a trial, what is on display in the Senate is some kind of legal pageant or legal jousting match, with two teams of lawyers but no jurors in the real sense; as president Judge Rehnquist has ruled, maybe no witnesses; and particularly painful to House managers at this juncture, no rebuttal. So think many observers.
REP. F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER (R-WI): (From videotape.) The fact that the Senate restricted the House mangers from doing a formal rebuttal flies absolutely in the face of court procedure in any court in the United States. The party that has the burden of proof -- and in this case, it's the House managers -- always is able to have a rebuttal and always is able to have the last word.
REP. HENRY HYDE (R-IL): (From videotape.) We regret keenly that we have not been afforded the opportunity for rebuttal. The last one to speak always has an advantage. And since we have the burden of proof, so to speak -- every litigation that I've been involved in, the person with the burden of proof gets the chance to rebut.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Without a rebuttal, with jurors, and maybe without witnesses, the essentials of a trial have all but vanished. Where does that leave the Constitution that calls for a trial? Nowhere.
We don't have a trial; we have a game, a lawyers' Olympics, a hair-splitting grudge match, a Court TV Super Bowl. What is the goal of the lawyers' Olympics? A team win. What is the goal of a trial? Truth.
Question: Are these critics right? Should the Senate rule in favor of: (1) a formal rebuttal by the House managers; (2) witnesses; (3) cross-examination -- all of which occurred at the Andrew Johnson acquittal conviction trial, the only real precedent that we have.
MR. BUCHANAN: Certainly it should have, John. But the point is moot, it didn't.
But look, this is -- you're right, this is really a trial of the absurd. One of the impartial jurors announced, while the prosecution was presenting its case, that it was a "pile of dung." Then you get -- half the jurors are telling the prosecution, "We don't want to hear your witnesses and we're going to vote not to hear them."
Listen, if it weren't for the fact that Bill Clinton's at 65 percent, and if the Dow Jones were not where it is right now, Bill Clinton would be on the tumbles heading up Pennsylvania Avenue to the guillotine. But it ain't going to happen.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, is this a sham trial?
MS. CLIFT: When Pat Robertson puts up the white flag of surrender, it's over. Even the "Buchanan Brigades" are deserting.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: Look, the --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it a sham trial?
MS. CLIFT: It's been -- the whole issue has been a sham. It shouldn't have gotten this far. The House acted improperly in passing it on to the Senate, and the Senate is now trying to handle in the best way possible an issue it should have never gotten --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So --
MS. CLIFT: Let me finish. And the White House team did exactly what it needed to do; it raised questions about the evidence and the way the House managers construed that evidence; it raised the bar of impeachment to basically a crime against the state, not personal misconduct; and it separated Clinton the man from Clinton the president. You can deplore his conduct as a man, but as Dale Bumpers said, rise above it, get over it; he's a good president.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony, it is true that the Senate is permitted to take wide latitude with its rules and regulations governing the trial. But surely the essentials must be there. At the Andrew Johnson trial, a rebuttal was permitted; serious cross-examine of many witnesses, a parade of witnesses was permitted. And here we have lost those essentials, and what we have is a pageant at best; we have some kind of a Super Bowl of lawyers. Do you agree with that?
MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, I mean, I said in the past on this show that this was a charade. I think what you have right now --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What a minute, is that a charade?
MR. BLANKLEY: Charade.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it an ersatz charade? (Laughter.)
MR. BLANKLEY: (Laughs.) No, it's a genuine charade!
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, a real charade.
MR. BLANKLEY: But the point is that any legitimate search for the truth would include rebuttal, it would include evidence and witnesses. This isn't a search for the truth, it's a search for an exit, and they're probably going to find one.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, do you think that's proper in the light of the fact that the president has been impeached?
MR. BLANKLEY: No -- I mean, properly impeached on legitimate evidence and persuasive to a rational mind.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes. Yes.
MR. BLANKLEY: The Senate is not interested in that. They're interested in maintaining their dignity. They're going to lose it in the long term because of their search for a quick exit.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The White House is building its case allegedly on facts. But really we know that it's building it on the basis of public relations, and it's building it on that thin surface alone; correct? (Laughter.)
MR. BLANKLEY (?): John?
MS. CLIFT: I don't think it's so thin. (Laughs.)
MR. BLANKLEY: Largely; I mean, they are picking the weak parts of a case. I use to be a prosecutor; every case has weak parts and strong parts. In a real case, you get to defend your own position, go back and point out your strong parts. The prosecution doesn't have that in this case.
But it's also true that ultimately this is, as Hamilton said in the "Federalist Paper 65," a political process. And when the president is this popular, it's hard to move to conviction.
MR. BARONE: John?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think historians are going to look back on this trial and say that it was a sham and the Senate neglected its duties?
MR. BARONE: No, I think -- I don't take the view that you take of it, John. I mean --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think enough essentials are in this to constitute a trial?
MR. BARONE: The fact that -- you have got a rosy picture of trials, generally. I mean, do we want go to the O.J. Simpson trial here? I don't think so. I mean, the fact is --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, there are some similarities.
MR. BARONE: -- that trials do not necessarily offer a proof. The assumption is that adversary sides and their arguing will produce that; we have something this year.
But this is a hybrid between a legal system and a political system. Hamilton refers to that in "Federalist 65." And the footage that we showed at the beginning, of the chief justice ruling on Senator Tom Harkin's objection to being called jurors; I think Harkin was correct and that the chief justice was correct. The members of the Senate are not only jurors, they are also judges.
An interesting corollary of that is that Senator Harkin said: "Well, we can take into account things in addition to the facts and -- that the prosecutors, the House managers bring before us. We can talk about the good of the country" -- and so forth. That of course cuts both ways.
MR. BUCHANAN: John?
MR. BARONE: It also means that when the president's defenders say, "You can't take account of the testimony before the grand jury," that's incumbent, too.
MR. BUCHANAN: But Tony is exactly right. Look, these senators are looking for a way not to have happen to them what happened to the folks in the House, who were savaged. And they want to get this over with. They want to find a decent way out. Quite frankly, I'll bet a lot of them -- if you ask the Democrats privately, they'll say, "Sure, he was guilty." And if he was low in the polls, they'd throw him out. But they want out!
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hey, Pat?
MS. CLIFT: Excuse me.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, as further proof of what -- just one moment -- as further proof of what I am saying, I'll ask you; those powder-puff questions for the most part, static and arid, that were put before us --
MS. CLIFT: Yeah. Well, John, and the fact --
MR. BARONE: That's a question to get the rebuttal --
MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. But the --
MR. BARONE: -- the absence of which you have been complaining about.
MS. CLIFT: Right. But -- exactly.
MR. BARONE: That's the good part of this process.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hey, hey, hey; that is a far cry from rebuttal. There is no cross-examination.
MS. CLIFT: The fact --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know, because you are a lawyer. Presumably, you have performed in court --
MR. BARONE: Do you know why?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- or have you?
MR. BARONE: I can -- (word inaudible) -- you. It's operating like an appellate court, John. They are getting asked questions, as if they are asked questions by the judge.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, it is a farce!
MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible.)
MR. BARONE: And they are going -- and when --
MS. CLIFT: Excuse me.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In terms of their retaining the basics -- essentials of a trial, it is a farce.
MS. CLIFT: Excuse me, John. What questions --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you agree?
MR. BLANKLEY: (Inaudible) -- acting as an appellate court.
MS. CLIFT: -- would you be asking? What questions are there to ask: "Who gave who the gifts?" "Who retrieved it?"
MR. BUCHANAN: No. You know what you ask?
MS. CLIFT: "Who made the phone call?"
MR. BLANKLEY: It is the --
MS. CLIFT: If the House managers are willing --
MR. BUCHANAN: You ask Betty Currie --
MS. CLIFT: -- excuse me -- the House managers have gone over this ad nauseam. Everybody is sick of it. You do focus groups, and --
MR. BUCHANAN: Look, I know they are. But look --
MS. CLIFT: -- they say "enough" because there is nothing more to learn.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- one question. Let me ask you a question; let ask you one question.
MS. CLIFT: We have learned everything there is to learn.
MR. BUCHANAN: You bring Betty Currie up and ask her, "Ms. Currie, why did you go get those gifts?"
MS. CLIFT: Ms. Currie has --
MR. BUCHANAN: And then, "Who told you to get those gifts?"
MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. Ms. Currie was interrogated by the grand jury many, many, many times.
MR. BUCHANAN: Did this just jump from her mind?
MS. CLIFT: Why don't you go read the transcript? It's all there. She's not going to get up there and suddenly change her story.
MR. BUCHANAN: Look, you don't want witnesses for a good reason.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat. Pat -- Pat. You have to face it, Pat, this trial is wired. It's wired because it will be a 45-55 straight partisan, party-line vote --
MS. CLIFT: No it won't!
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and they've known it for months and they have structured this thing --
MR. BUCHANAN: It is wired --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They have structured this thing, many critics think -- I'm giving you their view -- they have structured this thing to arrive at this exact end.
MS. CLIFT: Who's they?
MR. BUCHANAN: They have structured it (late ?). The Senate did.
MS. CLIFT: Who's they? (Laughs.)
MR. BUCHANAN: But let me tell you this. If Clinton were falling in the polls, and if the public said this is awful and he ought to go, and if the Dow was at 5,000 not 9,000, he would be on his way out.
MS. CLIFT: Right. Right. Pat, and if my mother were a bus, it would be the same outcome. You can't get that whole chain of events to take place.
MR. BUCHANAN: But what I'm saying is --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold it! Hold it! I want to get --
MS. CLIFT: We happen to have a president who's doing a good job --
MR. BUCHANAN: The vote is irrelevant to the evidence.
MS. CLIFT: -- and you can't destroy that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you have an observation?
MR. BARONE: Well, I think -- I mean, I take a somewhat different view. I think these senators, generally, as most members of the House of both parties, are and were trying to make a conscientious decision on this. The problem that you have is that you have two lines that are available to a conscientious person. One line says he was clearly guilty of these particular offenses, did these terrible things and he should not be in office anymore. That's something a reasonable person can believe. You can also say, "Does not rise to the level of an offense for removal of office." And whether we like it or not, conscientious people can come to that decision. You break ties in favor of the home team, and the home team in this case tends to be political party. We are watching it, but we should not denigrate partisanship. It is an essential characteristic of our elected democracy.
MS. CLIFT: I will predict here --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's denigrate it in this instance -- let's denigrate it in this instance, because what it has done is pushed this to the point where on the basis of a sham trial we are forgetting the obligation in the Constitution.
MR. BUCHANAN: Sure.
MS. CLIFT: No, we're not.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think we are. I think we are. The Constitution calls for a trial. This is far from a trial.
MS. CLIFT: We are honoring --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is some kind of gamesmanship. This is some kind of lawyering liturgy.
Let's get out.
Exit: At the end of the week, this coming week, week two -- or this week rather. This week. Which side has the momentum, House managers or the White House defense team?
MR. BUCHANAN: The White House defense team has all the momentum going for it. We're going to be led over the bridge to the 21st century by a perjurer president.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: We're going to be led over the bridge --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who has the momentum?
MS. CLIFT: The White House does. And it's not by a perjurer, it's by a man who happens to be in touch with the mainstream of this country, Pat, something you would dearly love to be able to do. (Laughs.)
MR. BUCHANAN: It's both. It's both. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you amazed -- you've been up there on the Hill for a long time -- the extent to which political self-interests will skew, will skew the lens of -- the viewing lens of reality of every one of these senators? I am convinced that they can retain their own clear conscience of impartiality and, at the same time, notwithstanding the overwhelming -- the overwhelming legitimacy --
MS. CLIFT: It's not overwhelming.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and persuasiveness of this evidence against the president --
MS. CLIFT: It's not overwhelming!
MR. BARON: John, that's what -- that's what Alexander --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Just a moment! I am saying that it just skews them and they would -- no matter what -- no matter what shows of objectivity they may have some in theatrical way, making believe they haven't made up their mind -- they know what their mind is. They're taking care of their political interests. True or false?
MR. BLANKLEY: I think that's largely true, but there's also another phenomenon, which is the capacity of Washington to be swept up with the conventional wisdom of the moment, and I think that right now the conventional wisdom is that it's over. But that could shift. You know, after the Republicans in the House put on their case, there was a slight shift away from the president. Then the defense team put on their case, there was a shift the other way. We'll see. I mean, it's probably ending, but the conventional wisdom can shift like birds leaving a line in the --
MR. BARONE: John, what you said about these things becoming political is exactly what Alexander Hamilton recognized in Federalist 65. He had been watching the year before, in 1786, the impeachment of Warren Hastings as governor general of India, in the House of Commons in England. It split on party lines. The Rockingham Whigs were leading the fight against (him ?), the Tories were against it, but there were some switches as well.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There will be no switches. It will be 45-55. You wait and see.
MR. BARONE: There are not going to be switches here.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Just a moment. The one hope is, as far as the founders are concerned, that a trial, with witnesses, with cross examination, some proximity to a trial, granted the latitude that the Senate could put in there, that that would somehow puncture the otherwise impervious --
MR. BLANKLEY (?): It may. And I think there still may be --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- (inaudible word) -- that they have to serve their own self-interests.
MS. CLIFT: The Founding Fathers never envisioned an impeachment procedure brought against somebody for private conduct. And frankly, I think there are going to be --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've got to get out. Pat. Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. BARONE: It was the United States District Court. That is part of state. There was an offense against the state. It is not private conduct.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. Excuse me
MS. CLIFT: -- there are going to be Republicans who vote with the Democrats.
MR. BLANKLEY: You're right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. Probably for cosmetic purposes.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, aren't you taking this kind of personally here today? (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm not taking it personally. I just feel that if we have a Constitution, we ought to live up to it.
MR. BUCHANAN: I agree with you.
MS. CLIFT: We are.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And this is not a trial.
MS. CLIFT: We are living up to it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Last week on mclaughlin.com, we asked: "Did President Clinton's sexual affair with Monica Lewinsky, because of the wiretapping that he spoke about with her, compromise U.S. national security?" Get this: 77 percent yes.
When we come back, a star is born and a star is reborn.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: A star is born.
CHERYL MILLS (deputy White House counsel): (From videotape.) Of course she's loyal. But it is, may I say, an insult to Betty Currie and to millions of other loyal Americans to suggest that loyalty breeds dishonesty.
It's those facts, those stubborn facts, that just don't fit.
I'm not worried about civil rights, because this president's record on civil rights, on women's rights, on all of our rights is unimpeachable.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was her Washington debut. Cheryl Mills toiled in almost complete anonymity as a White House lawyer for six years. Wednesday she emerged to deliver a spirited defense of the president. With surgical precision Mills addressed the charges that Clinton ordered Betty Currie to hide gifts he gave to Monica Lewinsky and that he coached Lewinsky's testimony.
The reviews were glowing.
SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D-CA): (From videotape.) I have such pride in my heart after listening to Cheryl Mills.
SEN. ROBERT BENNETT (R-UT): (From videotape.) The young lady at the end was very powerful and, I think, made a strong case for their point of view.
REP. ROBERT TORRICELLI (D-NJ): (From videotape.) I may always have to remember that the most powerful speech I ever heard in the United States Senate wasn't made by a senator at all.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Does Cheryl Mills deserve all the commendation that she's received, Eleanor Clift?
MS. CLIFT: Absolutely yes. This was in the well of the Senate, a fairly intimidating forum for somebody who does not have a whole lot of experience as the courtroom lawyer. And she took on the toughest aspects of the case, and that's obstruction of justice. She defended Betty Currie without indicting the president, and she took on this ridiculous notion that at the heart of this is that Paula Jones's civil rights have been somehow compromised.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay --
MS. CLIFT: And as a black female, she was uniquely qualified to make that case in a very emotionally powerful way.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. You agree with most of that, don't you, Pat?
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Laughs.)
MR. BUCHANAN: Look, this is the old --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Be quick, Pat; we've got to get out.
MS. CLIFT: Be my guest! (Laughs.)
MR. BUCHANAN: This is the old argumentum ad invidiam; to appeal basically to the prejudice, the emotions of people, rather than to the logic of it. And she was saying underneath it all, "Listen, do not bring Betty Currie up here and go after this woman, or you are in deep trouble, fellas."
MR. BARONE: Yeah, this was a weak case that she had to argue. She used emotion to argue it. It wasn't nearly as powerful as what we heard Barbara Jordan say 24 or 25 years ago on the subject of impeachment, if you want to do that.
MS. CLIFT: Well --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And there were some errors and sophistry in it, as was pointed out by Congressman Barr -- correct? -- relating to jury tampering.
Okay, is there more to Cheryl Mills than meets the eye? First, civil rights and race; second, Ms. Mills' legal status.
CHERYL MILLS (Deputy White House Counsel): (From videotape.) Bill Clinton's grandfather owned a store. His store catered primarily to African Americans. Apparently, his grandfather was one of only four white people in town who would do business with African Americans. The president has taken his grandfather's teaching to heart, and he has worked every day to give all of us a better deal.
I stand here before you today because President Bill Clinton believed I could stand here for him.
REP. BOB BARR (R-GA): (From videotape.) I'm sure that she can explain why that was relevant to the proceedings today --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Then there is this, the ultimate irony. Bill Clinton has been impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice. Today, Cheryl Mills stands accused of the very same crimes. Three months ago, the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee issued a report on the Clintons' use of the official White House database for political and fundraising purposes. The Committee's report states, "Deputy Counsel to the President Cheryl Mills lied under oath to the committee and obstructed the investigation." The charges have been referred to the Justice Department for possible criminal prosecution.
Question: First, the race card. Did Cheryl Mills play it, Tony Blankley?
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, of course she played it. It is an irrelevancy. It may be an effective emotional play to liberal guilt for Democratic senators. I think that's why they played it. I thought it was a little embarrassing to see her as a very able lawyer, but as a black woman defending the president's civil rights record when Lani Guinier and some very genuine civil rights activists would have another -- very other view of it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But do you think it was triggered by anything that the Republican managers said or did?
MR. BLANKLEY: They claim -- because the Republicans raised the point that this was not perjury on sex, it was perjury relating to a civil rights suit, which was correct, she then took that and said, started talking about his substantive policy, which is irrelevant.
MS. CLIFT: It still --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She took the language of civil rights in an -- and used that as a trigger in an unrelated context that we saw here. What do you say about that?
MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. Does Bob Barr play the race card when he speaks to a white supremacist group? (Laughter.) I mean, you know -- I think --
MR. BLANKLEY: It was used on the floor of the Senate in a trial of impeachment.
MS. CLIFT: Well, I'm sorry. She happens to be a black woman --
MR. BUCHANAN: Oh, come on.
MS. CLIFT: -- and the House managers are basing a case on the fact the president undermined the civil rights of someone.
MR. BUCHANAN: She was there solely because --
MS. CLIFT: I think what she said is totally relevant and why it gets under all your skins is because it's so effective.
MR. BUCHANAN: It doesn't get under my skin. She was there solely because she is a black woman.
MS. CLIFT: No. Do you think the president -- the president has --
MR. BARONE: Well, you also have this implication out there that this is the first time any such thing has happened. We have black women playing important parts in American public life, in the private sector every day. Barbara Jordan, 24 years ago, played an important role in American public life in an incredible way.
MS. CLIFT: Yes. This is not --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think the White House needed a black woman to show for their case because they did not want to lose the female vote?
MS. CLIFT: This is not --
MR. BARONE: They used the atmospherics that helped -- (inaudible) --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And they realize -- they realize their legal case -- they have a weak hand, therefore, they have to build their case on politics and on public relations?
MS. CLIFT: No. The fact -- the fact that --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question -- this is for you. Question: Second, Ms. Mills' legal status. Do these two felony allegations vitiate in any way her Senate Clinton advocacy?
I ask you?
MS. CLIFT: A charge from Mr. Burton is a badge of honor. And the fact that the president has a man with a disability and a black female on his team of five shows -- he's not going to put tokens up there. He had the best legal minds and people working for him he could get, and they were very effective --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, for your -- for your information --
MS. CLIFT: -- and they stand up very well against that parade of White House -- of House managers.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, excuse me. For your information, Eleanor, the key person here was a man by the name of David McIntosh, who is chairman of the Subcommittee of the House Oversight Committee. Now, would you care to unleash your ad hominem attacks on him the way you do on Burton in order to make a point? Or does that make any difference to you?
MS. CLIFT: I'll wait to see how that case is resolved, and I'm quite certain it will be resolved in Ms. Mills' favor.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue three: A star is reborn, Pat.
DALE BUMPERS (Former United States Senator from Arkansas): (From videotape.) The people have a right, and they are calling on you to rise above politics, rise above partisanship. The American people are now, and for some time have been asking to be allowed a good night's sleep. They're asking for an end to this nightmare.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So said recently retired Arkansas Senator Dale Bumpers Thursday, who returned to the Senate floor to present the closing arguments against a conviction of Bill Clinton. Senator Bumpers' address featured his country wit, his constitutional expertise, and his perfect oratorical timing to argue the president's claim that the case does not warrant the conviction of the president of the United States.
SEN. BUMPERS: (From videotape.) There's a total lack of proportionality, a total lack of balance in this thing. The charge and the punishment are totally out of sync.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This reinforced the hawkish calls for dismissal made by Democratic senators earlier this week.
SEN. TOM HARKIN (D-IA): (From videotape.) I've got to tell you, I sense a mood around here now of sort of, "What are we doing here? This case doesn't have any legs."
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, in a written statement, Democratic Senator Robert Byrd said Friday that he is convinced that the necessary two-thirds vote for conviction is, quote, unquote, "not there." Byrd said he believes that President Clinton has weakened the already fragile public trust, but it would be wrong to prolong the trial. Therefore, he'll offer a motion to dismiss the charges against President Clinton as early as Monday.
Question: Will this vote for dismissal pass?
I ask you.
MR. BUCHANAN: No. Byrd will bring every Democrat along with him, but the vote to dismiss will be defeated, and there is still a chance Republicans will vote and get their witnesses.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes. And you're echoing exactly the sentiments of Phil Gramm who said as much; it will be defeated, and there will be witnesses.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And what do you think?
MS. CLIFT: And if they get witnesses, they'll be deposed in private and they'll never be in the well of the Senate. Republicans -- I have underestimated their capacity for self-wounding, but I think they're going to get out of this soon.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She is -- maybe it's because they believe in the Constitution and they're willing to wound themselves.
MS. CLIFT: Democrats believe in the Constitution, too, John.
MR. BLANKLEY: I think that there will be -- there may be a couple of Republicans who will go the other way, but enough Republicans will hold till they have at least the depositions.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?
MR. BARONE: I think Byrd's motion will probably be defeated. I think they will vote to depose witnesses. I think that because the witnesses they've -- each side wants to depose, not only the House managers and the president's defenders --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How about calling them before the --
MR. BARONE: -- are in favor of the other side. I think they're going to end up taking a look at that deposed testimony and not wanting to bring very much of it -- maybe only a few witnesses, maybe not.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is three witnesses will be heard, and that's the way Trent Lott wants it. We'll be right back with predictions.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will this trial end in seven working days -- that is, by February 1, Pat?
MR. BUCHANAN: No, sir.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: Yes.
MR. BARONE: No way.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?
MR. BLANKLEY: No, but nearly.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, that's four noes and one yes. The answer is no, of course. Bye bye!
®FC¯END REGULAR SEGMENT
PBS SEGMENT FOLLOWS
®FL¯(Begin PBS segment.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue four -- argument from authority.
CHARLES RUFF (Counsel for the president): Now, the managers have made fun of the notion that hundreds of distinguished scholars and historians expressed their opinion that the offenses with which the president has been charged are not high crimes and misdemeanors.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The experts to whom Ruff refers consist of two groups. The first are the 400 quote/unquote "Historians in Defense of the Constitution," who took out a full-page ad in the New York Times urging against impeachment. The second, a group of 430 law professors, who also urged Congress, in the form of a letter, to drop the issue of impeachment. Mr. Clinton himself has repeatedly cited the support of these academics in an effort to discredit the articles of impeachment and to give cover to senators who may wish to vote for his acquittal.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: (From videotape.) The important thing I think you should be asking yourself is, why did nearly 900 constitutional experts say that they strongly felt that this matter was not the status of impeachment.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, is it true that lawyers and historians commonly support Clinton? True, 430 law professors did sign a letter of support of the president. But 8,000 American law professors, over 95 percent, did not sign the letter.
Historians; 400 historians did sign arch-Democrat Arthur Schlesinger's ad in the New York Times. But 8,500 historians, again over 95 percent, did not sign the ad.
Question: We all know that tallying up experts to determine the truth, is profoundly anti-intellectual. It is the oldest high-school debating trick in the book; an argument from authority, that is.
At any rate, are Ruff's and Clinton's references to the 900 constitutional experts, attempts to spin their way through this trial process, Michael Barone?
MR. BARONE: Do you mean, you'd say the Clinton White House would try and spin something, John? I can't believe that.
No. I mean, there is an error in the setup piece that you have got there, and the error is you referred to Arthur Schlesinger's ad or the historians' ad. The ad was paid for by People for the American Way, which is predominantly a Democratic-oriented, left-wing liberal organization, which presents a lot of good and interesting material and so forth.
And the historians, many of them who signed, are the people that admire and whose works I have read with profit.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. Well --
MR. BARONE: When you look at people who have specialized in impeachment --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You seem to be very erudite. So I want to know this. I want to know what the spurious use of an argument from authority is commonly known as?
MR. BARONE: Well -- what?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It starts with an "l."
MR. BARONE: It starts with an "l."
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. His name is Lysenko. Did you ever hear of him?
MR. BUCHANAN: John?
MR. BARONE: Lysenko, the Soviet --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: "Lysenkoism."
MR. BARONE: Lysenko was the Soviet --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. In other words, the argument of authority was used excessively by Joseph Stalin. (Laughter.)
MR. BARONE: John, I don't --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you know that, Pat?
MR. BARONE: -- I don't agree with People for the American Way --
MR. BUCHANAN: I know Lysenko, and that's not the argument.
MR. BARONE: -- but they're not Stalin. (Laughter.) Come on.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Laughs.) Do you have a comment?
MR. BLANKLEY: It reminds me of scholasticism a little bit.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Scholasticism?
MR. BLANKLEY: Trying to reconcile truth --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, the bedroom of St. Thomas Aquinas? Never say that.
MS. CLIFT: You know, this is nice for people -- this is when --
MR. BLANKLEY (?): This will cause a political incident.