Jewish World Review April 7, 2000 /2 Nissan, 5760
http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- WHEN JEFFREY TOOBIN'S Clinton book, "A Vast Conspiracy," first came out many months ago, The New York Times' real book reviewer, Michiko Kakutani, called it "highly partisan" and "willfully subjective." He said the book was full of "dubious assertion(s)," "petty meanness," "contradictions and perplexing assertions" and noted that Toobin "ignores (the president's) lies" while "spend(ing) the better part of this book railing against Mr. Clinton's adversaries."
This wasn't good enough for the Times. After a month of looking, the Times finally found a reviewer, one Thomas Powers, sufficiently unfamiliar with the facts to praise Toobin's book fulsomely, complaining only that Toobin did not go far enough in saying Clinton was "the good guy in this struggle."
In two earlier columns I have already identified about a dozen outright factual errors in Toobin's book, taken from about a half-dozen pages of his aggressively nonfactual book. Since those were such a hit, I decided to forge ahead and read three more pages. You'll never believe this but -- Eureka! -- I happened upon another series of Toobin's invented facts.
On Pages 172-174, Toobin eloquently recounts in fawning detail the feminist myth of Catharine MacKinnon's involvement in the first workplace sexual harassment case. The problem is, that case, Barnes v. Costle, decided by the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in 1977, was not the first case to hold that sexual harassment was actionable discrimination under federal law. The first case was Williams v. Saxbe, decided in 1976. The Supreme Court first applied that rule to the entire nation in Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson in 1986. Two and a half pages dedicated to repeating an easily verifiable lie.
On Page 199, referring to the talking points that Monica Lewinsky had passed on to Linda Tripp, Toobin writes: "For starters, every word in the talking points was true; thus, regardless of its authorship, there was no way the document could be evidence of a plot to obstruct justice."
Don't be fooled by the lawyerly "thus" -- Toobin's statement is false, as a matter of law.
To take just one statement from the talking points, the document instructed Linda to say this about Monica: "Well, she turned out to be a huge liar. I found out she left the WH because she was stalking the P or something like that."
Even if you are Jeffrey Toobin and cannot grasp the import of the semen-stained dress, that single talking point constitutes subornation of perjury. Linda knew perfectly well Monica left the White House because she was having a affair with the president, not because she was stalking him. Indeed, whether Monica had, in fact, been having an affair with the president is immaterial (but see semen-stained dress, phone records, White House logs, testimony of a dozen witnesses, etc., etc.).
Remember how Clinton's defenders kept trying to save him from perjury by pleading insanity? Their argument was, if the president really, truly believed he was not having sexual relations with Monica, then he didn't commit perjury. It's true that the oath-taker's belief determines whether his statement is perjurious, but it has to be a genuine belief. Otherwise it would be impossible to prove any perjury case -- ever. The deponent could always claim, "Gosh, but I believed the bank I robbed was a space station from an alien planet outside the laws of the United States!"
There is no question that Linda believed Monica was having an affair with the president -- and did not believe Monica was a "huge liar" who had been "stalking the P." Nor can there be any doubt that Linda's belief was reasonable: Monica had spent hours and hours on the phone detailing the affair. Monica had never retracted that claim, and Linda believed it to be true (as does the entire country, save Jeffrey Toobin).
Consequently, for Linda to say otherwise under oath would be false, a lie, perjury -- not to be confused with "true," as Toobin says. Perjury turns on the (reasonable) belief of the oath-taker, not on Jeffrey Toobin's personal feelings about the ultimate truth of that belief.
Also on Page 199, Toobin refers to the widespread belief that a lawyer had coached Monica in drafting the talking points, remarking that: "All this hypothesis illustrated, however, was the hysteria that afflicted Clinton's critics."
Among others, the anti-Clinton "hysteria" apparently infected a lot of lawyers, including every one interviewed by The Washington Post's law reporter, Joan Biskupic, back in February 1998. In an article titled "Lawyers See Legal Hand Behind Lewinsky 'Talking Points,'" Biskupic quoted a professor of legal ethics at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., a lawyer "who specializes in white collar criminal work," and several other lawyers with and without attribution, all of whom believed the talking points showed the hand of a lawyer.
Of course, those lawyers probably don't even realize that a legal finding of perjury turns
on Jeffrey Toobin's personal belief as to the truth, and not the belief of the
JWR contributor Ann Coulter is the author of High Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Case Against Bill Clinton.
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