Rogan Counters Hillary's Account of Impeachment

Under Secretary of Commerce James E. Rogan, who as a Republican congressman from California was an impeachment manager who helped present the House case against Bill Clinton to the U.S. Senate, has issued a response to the part of Sen. Hillary Clinton’s biography, Living History, in which she says:

“Because the vote to impeach in the House was considered similar to an indictment, Republican members of the House were sent to the Senate as managers or “prosecutors.” They were supposed to present “evidence” of the impeachable offenses while Bill’s lawyers would defend him. No live witnesses were introduced. Instead, the House managers relied on grand jury testimony and depositions they conducted of Sid Blumenthal, Vernon Jordan and Monica Lewinsky. Sid Blumenthal has written a fascinating behind-the-scenes account of his experiences during the impeachment in his book, The Clinton Wars.

“The Constitution requires that two-thirds of the Senate vote to convict the President before he can be removed from office. It hadn’t yet happened in American history, and I did not expect it would happen now. No one involved seriously thought that sixty-seven Senators would vote to convict, so perhaps the House managers saw no reason to conduct even the semblance of a professional prosecution. There were few rules governing procedures or the evidence presented in the managers’ case. As a result, the proceedings bore little resemblance to a real trial – it was more like a group tirade denouncing my husband.

Throughout the five weeks of the spectacle, the President’s lawyers made a presentation on the law and the facts that I believe historians and legal scholars will turn to when trying to understand this regrettable moment in American history.”

Mr. Rogan’s Response:

“If the impeachment procedure bore little resemblance to a real trial, it was not the fault of the House Managers. Over our objections, the Senate jettisoned over 200 years of their impeachment trial precedents and kept us from calling any live witnesses. Dozens of Senate impeachment trials were convened since the 1790s; this was the only one where this unprecedented step was taken. We were further hamstrung by ever-changing Senate rules that kept us from presenting our case under established procedures.

“If Senator Clinton is suggesting that the abrogation of those precedents was a disservice to the truth-seeking function of the impeachment trial, this aligns her with how the House Managers felt. In fact, the Managers’ chief investigator, David Schippers – – a lifelong Chicago Democrat who twice voted for President Clinton – – wrote a best-selling book titled Sell Out (Regnery) which blistered the Senate’s abandonment of traditional trial standards.

“My vote to impeach President Clinton was not based on joining what Sen. Clinton calls ‘a group tirade.’ My perspective was as a former Los Angeles County gang murder prosecutor and criminal trial court judge, and my standard was uncomplicated: any president who commits felony perjury and obstruction of justice forfeits his right to hold office. I felt that way then; I feel that way now.”