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A Trial Run at History at Md. High School

Clinton on Trial

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  • By Ellen Nakashima
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Tuesday, January 26, 1999; Page B4

    Sans beret or baseball cap, Monica S. Lewinsky testified after all in the impeachment trial of President Clinton yesterday.

    In the auditorium of Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, she said that she was guilty only of loving Clinton, that he never told her to lie, that she was never promised a job in exchange for lying.

    And now that she has been grilled by House members-turned-impeachment managers, the faux Lewinsky, 16-year-old Kate Hoagland, will be graded by teacher Barbara Anderson, who staged a mock trial yesterday as her U.S. history class's final exam.

    "All I did was love him, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that," said the chestnut-haired sophomore before she testified. She was wearing three-inch heels, a navy blue miniskirt with a pronounced slit and a lime cardigan ("for a conservative touch").

    Anderson, who donned a black robe and doubled as Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, thought enacting a trial would be more challenging and fun than a written exam.

    The entire exercise took two hours and 45 minutes. Even that was too long for some of the "senators," who had to leave before the final vote on whether to convict the president of high crimes and misdemeanors.

    The characters were every bit as vivid as the real ones – albeit with less paunch. There was presidential friend Vernon E. Jordan Jr., wearing a black Nautica vest over a dark green shirt. And presidential foe Kenneth W. Starr, decidedly slimmer, appeared to have borrowed daddy's jacket for the appearance.

    The president himself was not called as a witness. "We assumed he would squirm out of that one," said sophomore Rebecca Regan Sachs, who for the day was former senator Dale Bumpers (D-Ark.), but "with no accent."

    To capture Lewinsky's persona, Hoagland spent the weekend reading the Congressional Record, most of the Starr report and newspaper accounts of the proceedings.

    "I would never do what she did, but after reading the Starr report, I sort of understood why she did it," Hoagland said. "She thought that maybe she would end up with him. It was sort of a fantasy that got out of control."

    Monica-for-a-day then complained that the "paparazzi have been stalking me."

    As for erstwhile confidante Linda R. Tripp: "I don't like her anymore," she said. "She betrayed me. I trusted her. You just can't forgive people for something like that. . . . She's largely responsible for what happened. She really ignited the fire."

    And 17-year-old Dan Simms's rhetoric was every bit as steely as that of Rep. Henry J. Hyde (R-Ill.), the trial's chief prosecutor. Simms argued that Clinton is "no better than the common criminal. The only difference between him and ones in jail is that he lives in a much better house."

    To no avail. In the end, the student-senators voted 16 to 14.

    The verdict: not guilty.

    © Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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