Hillary Clinton, with chief counsel John Doar (left), bringing impeachment charges against President Nixon before the House Judiciary Committee in 1974
Details of Hillary Clinton’s firing from the House Judiciary Committee staff for unethical behavior as she helped prepare articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon have been confirmed by the panel’s chief Republican counsel.
Franklin Polk backed up major claims by Jerry Zeifman, the general counsel and chief of staff
of the House Judiciary Committee who supervised Clinton’s work on the Watergate investigation in 1974, reported columnist Dan Calabrese in a column republished by WND.
Zeifman, a lifelong Democrat, called Clinton a “liar” and “an unethical, dishonest lawyer.”
He contends Clinton was collaborating with allies of the Kennedys to block revelation of Kennedy-administration activities that made Watergate “look like a day at the beach.”
Her brief, Zeifman said, was so fraudulent and ridiculous, she would have been disbarred if she had submitted it to a judge.
Polk confirmed Clinton wrote a brief arguing Nixon should not be granted legal counsel due to a lack of precedent. But Clinton deliberately ignored the then-recent case of Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, who was allowed to have a lawyer during the impeachment attempt against him in 1970.
Moreover, Zeifman claims Clinton bolstered her fraudulent brief by removing all of the Douglas files from public access and storing them at her office, enabling her to argue as if the case never existed.
Polk confirmed the Clinton memo ignored the Douglas case, but he could not confirm or dispel the claim that Hillary removed the files.
Looking back on the case amid Clinton’s fierce battle with Sen. Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination, Calabrese sees a picture emerging “of a very ambitious young lawyer who was eager to please her political patrons, and was willing to mislead and undermine established committee staff and senior committee members in order to do so.”
The columnist, editor in chief of the North Star Writers Group, noted Zeifman has been “trying to tell his story for many years, and the mainstream media have ignored him.”
Zeifman said Clinton, then 27, was hired to work on the investigation at the behest of her former law professor, Burke Marshall, who also was Sen. Ted Kennedy’s chief counsel in the Chappaquiddick case.
When the Watergate probe concluded, Zeifman said, he fired Clinton from the committee staff and refused to give her a letter of recommendation. She was one of only three people who earned that dubious distinction in Zeifman’s 17-year career, Calabrese pointed out.
Zeifman told the columnist he fired Clinton because she was a liar.
“She was an unethical, dishonest lawyer,” Zeifman said. “She conspired to violate the Constitution, the rules of the House, the rules of the committee and the rules of confidentiality.”
Zeifman said Clinton collaborated with several individuals, including Marshall, special counsel John Doar and senior associate special counsel Bernard Nussbaum, who later became counsel in the Clinton White House. Their aim, he said, was the seemingly implausible scheme to deny Nixon the right to counsel during the investigation.
The Kennedy allies, Zeifman said, feared putting Watergate break-in mastermind E. Howard Hunt on the stand to be cross-examined by the president’s counsel. Hunt, according to Zeifman, had evidence of nefarious activities by President John F. Kennedy’s administration, including purportedly using the mafia to attempt to assassinate Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.
Polk regarded Clinton’s memo as dishonest because it tried to pretend the Douglas precedent didn’t exist. But, unlike Zeifman, he considered it more stupid than sinister.
“Hillary 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,” Polk told Calabrese.
But Zeifman argues that if Clinton, Marshall, Nussbaum and Doar had succeeded, House Judiciary members also would have been denied the right to cross-examine witnesses and denied the opportunity to even participate in the drafting of articles of impeachment against Nixon.
Polk recalls Zeifman told him at the time he believed Clinton’s primary role was to alert Marshall if the investigation was taking a turn against the Kennedys’ liking.
“Jerry used to give the chapter and verse as to how Hillary was the mole into the committee works as to how things were going,” Polk said.
Polk remembered some Democrat committee members, as well as nearly all the Republicans, were upset at the attempt to deny counsel to Nixon.
Zeifman said top Democrats, including then-House Majority Leader Tip O’Neill, believed Nixon clearly had the right to counsel.
“Of course the Republicans went nuts,” Polk said. “But so did some of the Democrats – some of the most liberal Democrats. It was more like these guys – Doar and company – were trying to manage the members of Congress, and it was like, ‘Who’s in charge here?’ If you want to convict a president, you want to give him all the rights possible. If you’re going to give him a trial, for him to say, ‘My rights were denied,’ – it was a stupid effort by people who were just politically tone deaf. So this was a big deal to people in the proceedings on the committee, no question about it.”
Bill and Hillary Clinton on their wedding day in 1975
Polk said Zeifman rightfully “went nuts,” as well, but “my reaction wasn’t so much that it was underhanded as it was just stupid.”
Calabrese concludes: “Disingenuously arguing a position? Vanishing documents? Selling out members of her own party to advance a personal agenda? Classic Hillary. Neither my first column on the subject nor this one were designed to show that Hillary is dishonest. I don’t really think that’s in dispute. Rather, they were designed to show that she has been this way for a very long time – a fact worth considering for anyone contemplating voting for her for president of the United States.”
The columnist noted Polk recalled something else that started long ago.
“She would go around saying, ‘I’m dating a person who will some day be president,’” Polk said. “It was like a Babe Ruth call. And because of that comment she made, I watched Bill Clinton’s political efforts as governor of Arkansas, and I never counted him out because she had made that forecast.”