US Politics

Kay Bailey Hutchinson Says Perjury Isn’t A Big Deal…Unless You Are Bill Clinton

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They just don’t have any shame, do they?

On Meet the Press on Sunday, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson made the argument that perjruy really isn’t a crime, just a technicality:

I certainly hope that if there is going to be an indictment that says something happened, that it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury technicality where they couldn’t indict on the crime so they go to something just to show that their two years of investigation were not a waste of time and dollars.

That’s an interesting argument, and one that Republicans, including Bill Kristol have been floating for a couple of days…almost as if they know that someone perjured him/herself. Unfortunately, it’s not a compelling argument, given that Hutchinson believed that perjury was sufficient grounds to impeach a President of the United States. In fact, according to her statement following her decision to vote for impeachment, Hutchinson argued that perjury was a high crime. From her statement:

The Supreme Court of the United States has observed that there is an occasional misunderstanding to the effect that the crime of `perjury’ is somehow distinct from `obstruction of justice.’ United States v. Norris, 300 U.S. 564, 574 (1937). They are not. While different elements make up each crime, each is calculated to prevent a court and the public from discovering the truth and achieving justice in our judicial system. Moreover, it is obvious that `witness tampering’ is simply another means employed to obstruct justice.

Lying is a moral wrong. Perjury is a lie told under oath that is legally wrong. To be illegal, the lie must be willfully told, must be believed to be untrue, and must relate to a material matter.

The President’s Counsel and a number of Senators advance a `felony-plus’ interpretation of the Constitutional terms `high crimes and misdemeanors.’ They seem to agree that the crimes of perjury and obstruction of justice are `high crimes’ under the Constitution, but they argue that, even if guilt is admitted, nevertheless, a Senator should vote `not guilty,’ on any article of impeachment of a President, if the `economy is good,’ if the underlying facts in the case are `just about sex,’ or if the Senator simply feels for whatever personal reason that the President ought to stay in office despite having committed felonies while holding it.

To this Senator, this astounding application of the plain language of our Constitution strikes at the very heart of the rule of law in America.

Long passages, but important ones. Hutchinson and other Republicans are going to be hard-pressed to make the claim that perjury and obstruction of justice aren’t important when dealing with the outing of a CIA agent, when they believed those exact charges were important enough to impeach the President over a consensual sexual affair. It’s clear that Republicans are running scared on this issue; they know that Rove and Libby are going to face charges–and are trying to spin their way out of the issue by attacking Fitzgerald and the process.

Hold them accountable for their actions. Hold them accountable for their words. These charges are not about Karl Rove, Scooter Libby, or even Judith Miller. They are about the requirement that our government follow the same rules as its citizens. Obstructing and lying to a grand jury investigation are criminal actions, not technicalities. Just ask the Republicans in 1998.

PS: Let Cheney get indicted. Please! 🙂

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it’s a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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