article author Jerry Zeifman will be a guest on the Straight Call radio talk show, with Rob Kall and Jim Strait Thursday, March 27, 8:00 PM EST at AM 1360 or on-line on WNJC online.
originally posted Feb 6, 2008
Hillary's Crocodile Tears in Connecticut
I have just seen Hillary Clinton and her former Yale law professor both in tears at a campaign rally here in my home state of Connecticut. Her tearful professor said how proud he was that his former student was likely to become our next President. Hillary responded in tears.
My own reaction was of regret that, when I terminated her employment on the Nixon impeachment staff, I had not reported her unethical practices to the appropriate bar associations.
Hillary as I new her in 1974
At the time of Watergate I had overall supervisory authority over the House Judiciary Committee's Impeachment Inquiry staff that included Hillary Rodham -- who was later to become First Lady in the Clinton White House.
During that period I kept a private diary of the behind the scenes congressional activities. My original tape recordings of the diary and other materials related to the Nixon impeachment provided the basis for my prior book Without Honor and are now available for inspection in the George Washington University Library.
After President Nixon's resignation a young lawyer, who shared an office with Hillary, confided in me that he was dismayed by her erroneous legal opinions and efforts to deny Nixon representation by counsel -- as well as an unwillingness to investigate Nixon. In my diary of August 12, 1974 I noted the following:
"John Labovitz apologized to me for the fact that months ago he and Hillary had lied to me [to conceal rules changes and dilatory tactics.] Labovitz said. 'That came from Yale.' I said "You mean Burke Marshall [Senator Ted Kennedy's chief political strategist, with whom Hillary regularly consulted in violation of House rules.] ' Labovitz said, 'Yes.' His apology was significant to me, not because it was a revelation but because of his contrition."
At that time Hillary Rodham was 27 years old. She had obtained a position on our committee staff through the political patronage of her former Yale law school professor Burke Marshall and Senator Ted Kennedy. Eventually, because of a number of her unethical practices I decided that I could not recommend her for any subsequent position of public or private trust.
Her patron, Burke Marshal, had previously been Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights under Robert Kennedy. During the Kennedy administration Washington insiders jokingly characterized him as the Chief counsel to the Irish Mafia. After becoming a Yale professor he also became Senator Ted Kennedy's lawyer at the time of Chappaquidick -- as well as Kennedy's chief political strategist. As a result, some of his colleagues often described him as the Attorney General in waiting of the Camelot government in exile.
In addition to getting Hillary a job on the Nixon impeachment inquiry staff, Kennedy and Marshall had also persuaded Rodino to place two other close friends of Marshall in top positions on our staff. One was John Doar; who had been Marshall's deputy in the Justice Department "" whom Rodino appointed to head the impeachment inquiry staff. The other was Bernard Nussbaum, who had served as Assistant U.S. Attorney in New York "" who was placed in charge of conducting the actual investigation of Nixon's malfeasance.
Marshall, Doar, Nussbaum, and Rodham had two hidden objectives regarding the conduct of the impeachment proceedings. First, in order to enhance the prospect of Senator Kennedy or another liberal Democrat being elected president in 1976 they hoped to keep Nixon in office "twisting in the wind"- for as long as possible. This would prevent then-Vice President Jerry Ford from becoming President and restoring moral authority to the Republican Party.
As was later quoted in the biography of Tip O'Neill (by John Farrell) a liberal Democrat would have become a "shoe in for the presidency in 1976"- if had Nixon been kept in office until the end of his term. However, both Tip O'Neil and I -- as well as most Democrats -- regarded it to be in the national interest to replace Nixon with Ford as soon as possible. As a result. as described by O'Neill we coordinated our efforts to "keep Rodino's feet to the fire."-
A second objective of the strategy of delay was to avoid a Senate impeachment trial, in which as a defense Nixon might assert that Kennedy had authorized far worse abuses of power than Nixon's effort to "cover up"- the Watergate burglary (which Nixon had not authorized or known about in advance). In short, the crimes of Kennedy included the use of the Mafia to attempt to assassinate Castro, as well as the successful assassinations of Diem in Vietnam and Lumumba in the Congo.
After hiring Hillary, Doar assigned her to confer with me regarding rules of procedure for the impeachment inquiry. At my first meeting with her I told her that Judiciary Committee Chairman Peter Rodino, House Speaker Carl Albert, Majority Leader "Tip"- O'Neill, Parliamentarian Lou Deschler and I had previously all agreed that we should rely only on the then existing House Rules, and not advocate any changes.
I also quoted Tip O'Neill's statement that: "To try to change the rules now would be politically divisive. It would be like trying to change the traditional rules of baseball before a World Series."
Hillary assured me that she had not drafted, and would not advocate, any such rules changes. However, as documented in my personal diary, I soon learned that she had lied. She had already drafted changes, and continued to advocate them.
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