aside Will The Real Hillary Please Stand Up? Part VII (Watergate Era)

clinton-cnn-good-pix-ap_893633345024As I have been mentioning in prior blogs, Hillary Clinton came of age when the feminist movement was at its peak. She managed to accomplish more from 1973 to 1993 than the vast majority of her male detractors who found her intelligence, strength and competence, unseemly. This is important for Millennials to understand what feminists including Hillary Clinton had to overcome.

The following 1992 commentary by the former President Nixon reflects the mind set of many Americans during this time frame : ” The campaign should make judicious use of Hillary Clinton, he observed. “If the wife comes through as being too strong and too intelligent, it makes the husband look like a wimp. Nixon said, the report in the NY Times praised Barbara Bush as a model of a wife who has her own opinions without upstaging her husband and suggested that many Americans are still put off by a male politician who does not appear to be as strong as his wife. The former president allowed that unfortunately, some voters agree with Cardinal Richelieu, who said “Intellect in a woman is unbecoming.” (Source:  page 35,  of book by Kathleen Hall Jamieson,” Beyond The Double Bind Women And Leadership.”)

clinton-hrc-good-photo-w-quote-bigger-than-oneself789Now, I am going to challenge republican persistent myth based on a legal brief written in 1974 by Hillary Clinton while she was a staffer on the House Judiciary Committee investigating Watergate. Republicans still refer to this 42 year old story to bolster their claim that Hillary is a congenital liar. It is important for Millennials to comprehend haw far back the conservative’s right’s vitriol towards her, has existed.

The best analysis of this fabrication is by David Mikkelson on an updated july 6, 2016 Snopes.com blog about Jerry Zeif-geist. Here are some excerpts:

“A passage from Dan Calabrese’s 2008 article presents one of Zeifman’s chief complaints about Hillary, that she supposedly “dishonestly” drafted a brief that argued President Nixon’s counsel should not be allowed to participate in the Judiciary Committee’s evidentiary hearings, even though a precedent from a few years earlier had seemingly established that a federal official facing impeachment should be allowed such representation:”

(Hillary) was a liar,” Zeifman said in an interview. “She was an unethical, dishonest lawyer. She conspired to violate the Constitution, the rules of the House, the rules of the committee and the rules of confidentiality.”

clinton-young-facing-news-merlin_193761426027930-3125“How could a 27-year-old House staff member do all that? Zeifman said she was one of several individuals who engaged in a seemingly implausible scheme to deny Richard Nixon the right to counsel during the investigation.”

“The actions of Hillary and her cohorts went directly against the judgment of top Democrats, up to and including then-House Majority Leader Tip O’Neill, that Nixon clearly had the right to counsel. In order to pull this off, Zeifman says Hillary wrote a fraudulent legal brief, and confiscated public documents to hide her deception.”

“The brief involved precedent for representation by counsel during an impeachment proceeding.”When Hillary endeavored to write a legal brief arguing there is no right to representation by counsel during an impeachment proceeding, Zeifman says, he told Hillary about the case of Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, who faced an impeachment attempt in 1970.”

clinton-on-time-watergaters_600x791-150313083525-timehillary1996“As soon as the impeachment resolutions were introduced by (then-House Minority Leader Gerald) Ford, and they were referred to the House Judiciary Committee, the first thing Douglas did was hire himself a lawyer,” Zeifman said.”

“The Judiciary Committee allowed Douglas to keep counsel, thus establishing the precedent. Zeifman says he told Hillary that all the documents establishing this fact were in the Judiciary Committee’s public files. So what did Hillary do?”

“Hillary then removed all the Douglas files to the offices where she was located, which at that time was secured and inaccessible to the public,” Zeifman said. Hillary then proceeded to write a legal brief arguing there was no precedent for the right to representation by counsel during an impeachment proceeding — as if the Douglas case had never occurred.”

clinton-younger-photo-time-mag-1101930510_400“This passage leaves many readers with the belief that Hillary Rodham took it upon herself to decide that President Nixon should not be represented by counsel during evidentiary hearings, to deliberately draft a brief that ignored precedent in that area, and to personally hide evidence of the precedent she had ignored so that no one could discover her dishonesty. But nearly everything stated in this passage is wrong: Hillary Rodham didn’t draft a legal brief that was “unethical” (save that it made a legal argument Zeifman didn’t agree with), she didn’t “confiscate” public documents, and she didn’t do anything that she hadn’t been directed to do by the man who was her and Zeifman’s superior.”

“It should be noted that the brief drafted by Hillary Rodham did not involve, as many people have misconstrued it, denying President Nixon the right to be represented by counsel during a trial on criminal charges. The brief addressed only whether Nixon had the right to be represented by counsel at evidentiary hearings conducted by a congressional committee tasked with determining whether potential grounds for impeachment existed.)”

“Zeifman’s book plainly stated, more than once, that the viewpoint that President Nixon should not be allowed representation by counsel during hearings was not Hillary Rodham’s doing; rather, it came from the top, Committee Chairman Peter Rodino himself. Separate passages in Zeifman’s book state that”one (rule) which was also espoused by Rodino was the surprising notion that the President was not entitled to representation by counsel in the committee’s impeachment proceedings” and that “in April (1974), Rodino began recommending that we deny Nixon the right to be represented by counsel“.

clinton-watergatecoverup-banner-ap_“Accordingly, Hillary drafted a brief in support of Rodino’s position under orders from her supervisor, John Doar. One might assert, as Chief Minority Counsel Frank Polk did, that Hillary could have taken a better approach to the task and “should have mentioned [the Douglas case], and then tried to argue whether that was a change of policy or not instead of just ignoring it and taking the precedent out of the opinion,” but it’s highly subjective to suggest she was “unethical” and “dishonest” for carrying out the instructions of her immediate supervisor and his boss. One could just as plausibly argue that it would have been unethical and dishonest for Hillary to presume to substitute her own judgment for that of her superiors and to refuse to comply with their directions.”

“Moreover, Zeifman plainly stated in his book that Hillary Rodham didn’t “confiscate” files related to the Douglas impeachment case. Rather, he asserted that it was her supervisor, John Doar, who — with Chairman Rodino’s assent — took possession of those files, writing that “Doar got Rodino’s permission to place all of our Douglas impeachment files in his exclusive custody.”

clinton-funny-cartoon-how-low-can-you-go-fd6ec099e00a9c38031b6c8d0c6210d9“John Labovitz, another lawyer who served on the impeachment inquiry staff, said much the same thing in a 2013 interview with Calabrese:”

“If it’s according to (Jerry) Zeifman, it’s inaccurate from my perspective,” Labovitz said. He bases that statement on a recollection that Zeifman did not actually work on the impeachment inquiry staff.”

“Labovitz said he has no knowledge of Hillary having taken any files, and defended her no-right-to-counsel memo on the grounds that, if she was assigned to write a memo arguing a point of view, she was merely following orders.”

11 comments

  1. Amazing, isn’t it, how Zeifman has managed such a “clear” recollection of events from decades ago. Talk about putting a spin on something! Bottom line … all this is just intended to deflect attention from the real issues, about which trumpeters know too little to effectively discuss. Such a disgusting election this has become. Thanks for this post … learned some things I did not know!

    • Dear Jill,

      It is an understatement that the right wingers have made a cottage industry of pursuing HRC for decades with their disinformation campaign. Can you imagine how infuriating it is for them, that she is still standing? Can you imagine how off the charts nuts they will be, when she becomes our U.S. president. Their worst fears would have come to pass. (Some of these guys will vote for DT who is unqualified just because they hate her.)

      I’m worried about their health, Gronda

  2. I love this approach of speaking directly to the Millennials. In many ways they accept as normal a certain egalitarianism even as they struggle to surmount the economic inequality that also marks our times.

    Very good series of history lessons.

    • Dear Rob,

      Thanks for your gracious feedback. I grew up in this feminist era (Mad Men) era. Too often, the young people today are not aware of how many women in the 1970s were paving unchartered terrain to make a path for the young folks of today. This includes HRC. I am convinced that misogyny is a big part of why right wingers have been working for years to discredit her.

      Thanks a million for your support and for this reblog. Ciao, Gronda

    • Dear Horty, There are so many of these false stories that I am truly amazed that she is still standing. As usual, thanks a million times over for all of your support and for this reblog Hugs, Gronda

  3. How interesting. I thought I knew a lot about Watergate (I am beginning to forget most of it now) but had no idea HRC was involved in any way. I hadn’t really heard of her until the Whitewater so-called scandle surfaced. I thought they always hated Bill but it was Hilary all along they wanted to get.

    They got nowhere on Whitewater (incidently, I read recently on one web site the reason Starr could get nothing on Hillary was that she arranged for the all the witnesses to be killed) and so possibly they sent in Moniker Lewinski. Linda Tripp advising her that she shouldn’t get that dress dry cleaned because that momento of love staining the fabric “may come in usefull later on” And so it did.

    She has had a remarkable journey. She will come under fire until, as we say in the UK, until the cows come home.

    • Dear Bill Hayes, Welcome! This only happened 42 years ago and yes, she ruffled some male feathers back then.

      She is human and a politician. I am hoping with this blog to remind young peoples of HRC being part of the feminist movement in the 1970s when there was a lot of male resistance to this movement. For instance, today the law school students are about 50% female but when HRC graduated in 1973, she was the only female in her Yale Law School class.

      There has been a 40 plus year cottage industry of conservative right wingers who have been working hard to totally discredit her. Yet, she is still standing; and you are absolutely correct in discerning that she will have to endure a lot more.

      Thank you for stopping by, Gronda

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