In July of 1994, after 17 years of legal practice, where I had experienced rank corruption among lawyers, judges and government officials, I founded Judicial Watch to serve as a "People's Justice Department." It had become clear to me that the legal profession and the government could not and would not police itself, the morals and ethics in our society having hit rock bottom, as manifested in our country's leaders in particular. I believed at the time that we Americans could use our legal system against these leaders to hold them accountable to the rule of law, because "no one is above the law."
Occupying the White House at the time were the Bonnie and Clyde of American politics: Bill and Hillary Clinton, not coincidentally two lawyers who had learned to pervert the legal system to suit their own power-hungry and evil ends. Among the many scandals that engulfed their administration, perhaps it was so-called Filegate that most typified their approach to governance. Illegally obtaining and amassing over 900 secret files on their perceived adversaries from a compliant FBI then run by a compromised director, Louis Freeh (now Penn State's questionable investigator of its sex-abuse scandal), Bill and Hill used the information to terrorize and blackmail into submission political rivals, not just in the Republican Party but others who would challenge them over their misdeeds.
While I had used the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to obtain documents and other records to uncover and trigger the Clintons' infamous Chinagate scandal – where they took bribes from this communist state not only to line their own coffers but to sell out national security in exchange – it became clear to me that Judicial Watch needed to ramp up its crime-fighting efforts and bring even harder-hitting cases to redress this rank corruption.
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To further this, I conceived of rounding up some of the victims of the Filegate scandal and filed a class-action lawsuit against Bonnie and Clyde. This case was like shooting goldfish in a bowl. So easy was it to unmask and act against the Clintons' pattern of illegal abuse of our FBI and other government agencies, I eventually obtained a court ruling that the president himself had committed a crime when he ordered the illegal use of a secret government file to smear publicly one of the women, Kathleen Willey, who had come forward during the Monica Lewinsky scandal to reveal Bill's pattern of sexual abuse in the White House. The ruling, made by the most courageous judge of this era, Royce C. Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, was the only finding in American history that a president had committed a crime.
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During the course of the Filegate class-action lawsuit, which lasted almost a decade, at my request Judge Lamberth ordered that government officials in the Clinton White House be deposed – that is, give oral testimony under oath. To expose and remedy their deceit and corruption, I decided to take their depositions not just by using a court stenographer to record their testimony in writing, but to videotape them. In so doing, I was able to unmask not only their wrongdoing in aiding and abetting the Clintons, but importantly also their sleazy demeanor. Persons like James Carville, Harold Ickes, George Stephanopoulos (who was even sanctioned by Judge Lamberth for lying under oath) and myriad others were put under the spotlight on camera.
As just one example, in the case of Ickes, at one point during his deposition, infuriated at my questioning about whether he had used his mafia contacts to carry out some of the Clintons' illegal capers, he got up, threw his microphone on the table and started to leave the deposition room. When I asked him calmly where he was going, he shot back in a fake Southern accent (Ickes was a New Yorker), "Mr. Klayman, if I don't leave now I'm going to leave something on your conference room floor." As Ickes was speaking, I asked the videographer to record his low-class cheap comments and later that day sent them to Matt Drudge, then of Fox News, and other cable shows, including Geraldo Rivera at CNBC. Ickes' diatribe was then broadcast over national television for all the world to see the type of vermin that had occupied the White House alongside Bonnie and Clyde.
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Over the next many years at Judicial Watch, I brought many other hard-hitting cases, such as the shareholder derivative suit against Bernie Schwartz, the CEO of Loral Corporation, a Bonnie and Clyde buddy and accomplice who gave highly classified missile and satellite technology to the Chinese to further the Clintons' illegal dealings with these communists. Then there were my cases against the Clintons' banks, such as Deutche Bank and PNC, who had bribed the Clintons during a period when new banking regulations were being considered with below-market interest mortgages to buy their house in Chappaqua, N.Y. The number of major cases Judicial Watch brought forward under my direction was staggering, so much so that we obtained a national reputation as indeed the "People's Justice Department."
After I left Judicial Watch in late 2003 to run for the U.S. Senate in Florida, the organization, under Tom Fitton, changed course and brought few if any of these hard-hitting cases. Instead, it focused mainly on FOIA cases, seeking documents from the government. While this can be useful in uncovering information and scandal, they are just a start in crime-fighting. They cannot by definition bring any of the criminals to justice. These types of cases are much easier to craft and less expensive to litigate than the hard-hitting cases I had brought at Judicial Watch.
Likely to justify this "easier lifestyle," Fitton proclaims at the end of his new book "Corruption Chronicles" – in which he fails even s to mention my name but claims credit for my accomplishments – that FOIA cases and so-called open-government laws are now the primary vehicle to fight government corruption. While they are helpful, they are just a means to gather information. What is needed instead are brave patriot citizen soldiers who are willing to take this information and then act by risking their sacred honor, fortunes and lives, just as our Founding Fathers did in 1776. While Fitton and his minions obviously do not have that courage, the American people do – and because of that I am hopeful that together we can take even harder and more forceful legal action in the months and years ahead to save and restore our beloved nation to greatness.