Schippers Calls Clinton Trial a 'Sham'
Friday, February 12, 1999; Page A22
Grudgingly resigned to President Clinton's acquittal, the lawyer who directed the House Republicans' impeachment inquiry called the president's trial a "sham" and charged yesterday that House prosecutors "were cut off at the knees" by senators eager to end the crisis.
"I feel there was no fair trial. There was no constitutional trial in the Senate. I think that the constitutional system has been irrevocably harmed," David P. Schippers said in an interview on the eve of a vote that senators in both parties agree will acquit the president of perjury and obstruction of justice.
Schippers, the GOP investigative counsel for the House Judiciary Committee during its impeachment inquiry, said the 13 Republican lawmakers who prosecuted the case "did everything we could with the minimal tools they allowed us to use."
He criticized the senators for settling for videotaped testimony instead of allowing witnesses to testify live. "They refused to let us prove our case," he said.
The former federal prosecutor, a veteran of organized crimes cases, was selected by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry J. Hyde (R-Ill.) to investigate whether Clinton's efforts to conceal an extramarital affair violated laws and amounted to impeachable offenses.
Though a Democrat from Chicago, Schippers quickly became a lightning rod for criticism by Democratic defenders of the president. Now that he's leaving town, he is holding back none of his opinions. "I can say things that maybe some of those congressmen won't say because I'm going to be out of here," he said. "But I have to say what I believe."
He criticized the senators who announced they would vote to acquit the president because they didn't believe the House proved its case. "It's a sham. The whole trial was a sham," he said. "I felt that the [House] managers were cut off at the knees."
The Senate never wanted to hold the trial, he said. "From the day they [the managers] presented the impeachment articles to the Senate," Schippers said, "it seemed like the whole attitude of the senators was 'We don't want to be bothered. We don't want to be annoyed.' "
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