Selling out justice
Geoff Metcalf interviews Clinton impeachment prosecutor David Schippers

By Geoff Metcalf

A lifelong Democrat who voted for Clinton both times, attorney David Schippers was chosen to prosecute President Clinton during the congressional impeachment process. Though the former Chicago prosecutor thought he had seen everything -- treachery, double crosses, sellouts -- what Schippers saw behind the scenes during the impeachment beat them all. What he witnessed --from both sides of the aisle -- compelled him to write "Sellout: The Inside Story of President Clinton's Impeachment".

WorldNetDaily staff writer and talk show host Geoff Metcalf recently interviewed Schippers about his explosive new book.

Question: I thought I knew everything bad that went on in the impeachment. I knew it was a lot more form than substance, but it had to be beyond frustrating for you.

Answer: It was. It was really terrible. I was a citizen coming out of Chicago who really had no political experience whatsoever, but I happened to find myself right in the middle of what they were doing, just kind of watching how the Senate and House of Representatives operates when nobody is looking.

Q: This really wasn't a partisan thing, one way or the other. Far from being a witch-hunt by the Republicans, it was more of a GOP soft-pedaled dog and pony show.

A: The Republican leadership in the Senate cut our legs off right from the beginning. We fully expected to have ourselves at least some kind of a trial, an opportunity to put on our witnesses, an opportunity to show our evidence, not only for the Senate, but for the American people. But, right from the beginning, there was just no way they could do it.

Q: Who was the GOP senator who said, "You're not going to dump this garbage on us"? I thought that was their job?

A: That was Trent Lott, right after the House had impeached the president on two counts. It was the first meeting with the Republican majority, with the majority leader. It was Trent Lott himself who was to decide what the procedures would be. The House managers and I were higher than a kite. We thought: this is great; we are going to be meeting with the majority leader. He's our friend. We'll find out what the procedures are, how much time we'll have to put on our case. And then when that line came out, it was like someone had hit everybody in the face with a brick.

Q: You say one senator said, "I don't care if you can prove that [Clinton] raped a woman and then stood up and shot her dead ..."

A: "... you are not going to get 67 votes." That was Sen. Stevens from Alaska. My assistant and I were both sitting on the couch at the back of the room and, when that came out, I looked at him and he just looked at me as if to say, "Are we really hearing this?" This was either the next day or two days after they all took that oath "to do equal and impartial justice."

Q: There was such an abundance of damning, compelling evidence against him, beyond the abuse of power under the color of authority and perjury. How many people just didn't even want to look at, say, the Juanita Broaddrick evidence?

A: The Juanita Broaddrick evidence was a little bit different because we had no intention of putting that in as part of the impeachment evidence. The evidence we had seen so far had shown that she was in no way influenced by the White House to lie. So that was off the table in the Senate. But there was all kinds of other evidence -- all kinds of stuff showing a massive conspiracy to obstruct justice and to use any means necessary to do so.

I'll tell you what happened. In the House -- let's start with the committee itself: of the 16 Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee whose job it was to determine whether or not there was sufficient evidence to have an inquiry -- and remember, all 16 voted against the inquiry -- five never went near the evidence. Five never looked at one word of evidence. In the House itself, we had about 65 members come over -- and they were all members of the Republican majority. In the Senate -- nobody! Not one senator. Not one staffer.

We had one Republican senator say, "Why should we be wasting our time reading this stuff when you've already read it?" Well, hey there, how about if you're a juror?

Q: It is also compounded because they didn't allow you to submit any evidence.

A: That's right! They didn't allow us to put any evidence in. And then Sen. Specter comes out and votes, "Not proved." Well how the heck are you going to prove a case if they're not going to let you put in any evidence?

The problem was not with all the senators, but with the leadership. They were the ones who were most outspoken. The most outspoken person on the committee against impeachment was Barney Frank. Barney Frank never looked at a word of evidence. He never bothered to come over there. He just sat over in the Judiciary telling everyone there was no evidence to impeach. Of course there wasn't if you don't want to look at it.

Q: It has been pretty clearly demonstrated so far that not only the president, but a lot of people around the president, lied under oath. That's perjury. Is anything ever going happen with any of these people?

A: I would sincerely hope so. You're right. There was perjury. There was subornation of perjury. There was witness tampering. There was witness intimidation. This was an ongoing thing and it was all calculated. Remember, after the election, we were limited to the Jones case and, for all practical purposes, to the Lewinsky matter. Even then, we showed that there was this conspiracy to obstruct justice solely to make sure that Miss Jones could not get any kind of a hearing on her case for what William Jefferson Clinton did as a human being, a person, not as the president.

Q: In the back of the book, you have a number of documents. What about this handwritten note from the president himself?

A: That note is presented by the president in the deposition in the Jones case to contradict an account of a meeting that was given by Dolly Browning. Dolly Browning and the president, for all practical purposes, had really grown up together. They had a meeting at the 25th anniversary of their high school reunion. Dolly Browning gave an account of what was said and why it was said. The president then gave a diametrically opposed account. He just contradicted her on every single thing.

Then he produced this handwritten document, that is in his own handwriting, and he claimed that shortly after that meeting, because he was so afraid of what Dolly Browning might do -- the same line he used with Monica Lewinsky before the dress appeared and the same line he used with Kathleen Wiley -- he said he sat down and drafted up these notes of exactly what was said. That's bad enough. Then he took the next step and had one of his White House aides on the back of the same note write that she was standing immediately behind Dolly and the president while this conversation took place, that she stood there so she could hear every word and that the president's account is exactly true. They were sitting in front of a four-foot square pillar. And we had proof of that.

Q: That's their story and they're sticking to it. It reminds one of the joke: "You lie ... and I'll swear to it in court."

A: There is another subornation of perjury. There's another case of witness tampering right there.

Q: Could you speak briefly to how Clinton keeps women quiet?

A: There's really two ways. One is, of course, by rewarding them. The other way is by vicious attacks. Remember when Paula Jones decided to file her lawsuit and one of his minions said, "Well, you drag a 10-dollar bill through a trailer park ..."?

Q: That was Jim Carville.

A: That's right. Remember the original attacks on Monica?

Q: She was an obsessed stalker.

A: Yes. She was stalking him, and he was trying his best and he didn't do anything wrong. He fed that elaborate lie to Sidney Blumenthal.

Q: Then he gets on national television and points his finger at the camera and says, "I did NOT have sexual relations with that woman."

A: And then he had to sit down and start redefining the word sex. But if you look in his testimony and the testimony of his people like Erskine Bowles and Podesta, he specifically said he had nothing to do with her. And they asked if that included oral sex and he said, "Yeah that's right. I had nothing like that." All those later definitions were just things concocted to try to explain the lies in the deposition.

Q: There's the prospect of intimidation, too. We have heard in the Kathleen Willey case and with Linda Tripp -- inevitably, someone is going to get some kind of cryptic little note somewhere. Maybe it's a copy of the "mysterious death list" floating around on the Internet.

A: Or a woman will come out of her house and someone will be sitting in a car just looking at her, not doing anything, just looking at her. She goes to the store and there's that same person. I worked for five years in Chicago against the outfit, the syndicate. And they didn't have to go and beat people up or kill them. All they had to do was let it be known, "I'm from the syndicate," and people would cave like accordions.

In the Lewinsky case, had that dress not turned up, today the story would be that she was a stalker, that she was a little bit nuts, that she was trying to shake him down. Remember, that was the original thing -- If you don't have sex with me, I'll tell people you had sex with me. That's exactly the same thing that he used with Dolly Browning and the same thing that he used with every other woman there.

Q: I interviewed Susan Schmidt after her book, "Truth at Any Cost," about Ken Starr came out, and she revealed that Starr basically tipped his hand to the administration on the DNA thing. He basically warned them.

A: I asked Ken Starr and Bob Bittman specifically. I said, I'm an old prosecutor, guys, and I'm telling you something. If you had leaked that the dress came back clean, [Clinton] would have gone into that grand jury and done a one-act play and you would have had him. You know why they didn't do it?

Q: No, I don't.

A: Here's what they said: We figured we had to let him know because it was being done inside the Justice Department, and we didn't trust the Justice Department not to give it to him anyhow.

I could not figure it out, to be honest with you. I asked him specifically, and that was the answer I got. That they just didn't trust the Justice Department not to leak it to them anyhow.

Q: Some folks were really jazzed when they heard Henry Hyde said you were going to head up an investigation of the Justice Department, and then they were crushed when they heard you packed up and went back home.

A: It wasn't my idea to pack up and go home. Once the impeachment was voted, that really ended my time as far as the counsel for the House Judiciary Committee. Then I became the chief counsel for the managers and that was a totally different job. As soon as the managers disbanded, so did I. I had to go home. My job was over. We left a lot of things out there that could be and should be still investigated.

Q: I was really surprised when I read in WorldNetDaily Monday, before I had a chance to read your book, this whole vote scam deal.

A: The Citizenship USA?

Q: Yeah. How is Al Gore going to defend against that?

A: I have no idea, but he'll figure out a way. When we started our investigation of the Justice Department, there hadn't been an oversight investigation in years and years and years, so Hyde said, "Look around; see what you can find." For the first couple of weeks, what we actually did was look around and see what might bear some kind of interest in our investigation. When we came up with this Citizenship USA stuff and some of those e-mails out of the vice president's office, we thought, "Well, let's take a look at it."

Q: What did you find?

A: We suddenly ran into a brick wall over at Justice. They didn't want to give us anything. We got the same old line -- "Oh, this old stuff? Why are you going over this?" That started to pique our interest. If there wasn't something there to hide, why not give it to us? Then we got information that they were planning to do the same thing this year, in 2000.

What they did was an absolute, unbelievable disgrace. Sixty thousand people became citizens of the United States who had felony records -- and the felony records had been found by the FBI and sent out and should have been in their files. There were thousands of them that were just thrown in boxes. They wanted to get these million votes in five key states, and they put such pressure on the Immigration and Naturalization Service to cut all their safeguards, cut their plan. They said get rid of stupid rules.

Q: And they even knew (INS Commissioner) Doris Meissner wouldn't play along with it.

A: Doris Meissner said right off the bat, "You know, people are going to say this is a ploy to win the election."

But then they come back with an e-mail saying, this is how we can get around that. I understand someone asked the INS about it and they said that there was no evidence that there was any interference of any kind by the White House or by anybody up there. They said, "We investigated." In other words, we investigated ourselves and we found that we are clean.

Q: The fox guarding the henhouse. I got an e-mail from a reader who said, "I'm an INS examiner who had first-hand knowledge that we were under tremendous pressure to naturalize as many new citizens as possible prior to Oct. 1."

A: Prior to the deadline for registering to vote.

Q: In fact, she wrote about interviewing "one woman who failed her citizenship test, answered one question out of 10 correctly. They are supposed to be rescheduled to be examined in two months. That's mandated by statute." This woman was naturalized in three days just prior to Oct. 1.

A: And after this, they started a new plan that was going to be in effect for 2000.

Q: David, you didn't come to the party as a virgin. You've been around the block.

A: I've been around a long time, and I've been around Chicago politics for a long time, which is pretty tough politics.

Q: At what point did you have your epiphany and realize this was intended to be all form over substance and you were just supposed to be there to play a role?

A: The first shot was when Trent Lott made the statement we mentioned earlier -- "You're not going to dump this garbage on us."

He's talking to the people who just had impeached the president. These were people who were told when we came out of committee that there were 60 Republicans who were going to vote against impeachment. We turned every one of them around by showing them the evidence. I think right up until the meeting with the six Republican senators, right after they all took the oath, we still hoped that we could convince them. We knew the Democrats were diametrically opposed to us, but we also knew it only took 51 votes to provide each witness, and the Republicans had 55.

When they took the oath, I was over in the Ford building with all of my staff and we were watching it on television. I'm not ashamed to say that I had tears in my eyes watching them taking the oath. I remember turning to the staff and saying, "Here it is guys, the United States of America. I hope the whole world is watching, because when they take that oath, there are no longer Democrats and Republicans; there are only statesmen, citizens, honorable men and women who are going to vote their conscience."

Q: If only that were true and you weren't subjected to the cruel reality check.

A: Right -- and everybody laughed at me.

Q: I remember several years ago someone telling me the difference between the House of Representatives and the Senate. I was told, "The House is a collection of 'politicians,' but we here in the Senate are 'statesmen.'" It was a crock then and it's a crock now.

A: It's a crock -- and I'll tell you what's even worse. The guys in the Senate were arrogant. They treated those managers who were from the other house of Congress -- the People's House -- as though they were second-class citizens, telling them, "Why are you talking to the gallery? You should be talking to us." Or sending word back that "we heard one of you slipped and used the word 'sex.' You're not allowed to use that word in the Senate." Come on! They said that we were not going to have a circus like in the House. Well let me tell you something: the system worked in the House. That circus is the way it's supposed to be. They sat down and they argued and they debated the facts; they debated the articles; they voted two up and two down. That's the way it's supposed to work.

Q: I didn't realize that no one in the Senate had even looked at the evidence.

A: They weren't interested. They didn't even say to one of their aides, "Contact Schippers or contact someone over at the House and find out just what they're talking about in this evidence." What kind of evidence would they be bringing in? They didn't care. Nobody asked us about witnesses. They just said, "No witnesses." The epiphany was when we met with those six senators when Sen. Stevens made that statement. We were begging them to go to bat for us, BEGGING them. Henry Hyde was literally begging them to allow us to put on a case, but they were adamant: No way!

I remember Sen. Stevens saying, "We have important things to do. We have the people's business to do." And Jim Rogan from California looked at them and said, "Senator, what's more important than the trial of the President of the United States?"

Q: And what was the statesman's response?

A: They don't answer when they get a question like that. They just ignore you. I think Ed Bryant from Tennessee, a very quiet gentlemanly man, just quietly said, "Come on, Senator. You don't do anything until March anyhow."

Q: What did happen after the trial in the Senate?

A: The day after the trial in the Senate, the Senate immediately rushed to do the American people's business. You know what they did? They took a two-week vacation. That's what they did. If they'd given us those two weeks and let us put on evidence, Clinton wouldn't be in office today.

Q: You mention in Chapter 9 about Ken Starr on the stand. Give us a summary of what happened on that Nov. 19?

A: I had only met Ken Starr once before then, and I met him for five minutes before the hearings. I shook his hand. He took that stand and was subjected to the most vicious, vilifying, unfair assault. It was humiliating, and the man took it with a smile on his face. He didn't lose his temper; he didn't lose his dignity. He went on for hours and hours and hours being pilloried by those Democrats and by the president's people. It got on toward 10 o'clock at night and everybody had had their say. They were all running out of gas and Henry Hyde had given me a half an hour. So I figured, here's what I've got to do: I've got to let the American people see what kind of a guy this really is. So we did it. I went on for about 40 minutes, at the end of which everybody in the room stood up and gave Ken Starr a standing ovation. Now the Democrats will tell you that the Republicans started it and that his friends started it. That is not true. I was watching.

Q: Who did start the applause?

A: I'll tell you who started the ovation -- the Capitol Police in the room. That's who started the ovation, and then it went on from there. Let me tell you, the people, the PEOPLE, were with us all the way. Everybody we talked to was with us all the way. The polls were against us and I don't know where the heck they were polling. Every person I've run into has said, "You did your best. God bless you." When we were walking out of the Senate chambers after being clobbered by the Senate, we walked along the corridor. The police -- the Capitol Police, probably the best police force in the United States -- were saying to us quietly (you know they couldn't do it publicly), they were saying, "Thank you. You've done your best. We appreciate what you've done for us." THAT's the American people.

Q: I get the impression the attitude of the Senate was: "OK, that's over. Now let's move on to the next thing." There are no consequences for what they did or didn't do?

A: None whatever.

Q: Do these guys in the Clinton administration manufacture stuff just as they see fit and then really expect everyone to buy it?

A: We had a saying among ourselves. We would always say, "These guys lie when they don't have to lie, just so they'll be in practice when it comes time to lie."

Q: Well, they sure got plenty of practice.

A: And the unfortunate thing is the media -- I'm talking about the mainstream media -- fall for it every time. They sit there and they take whatever is given to them and run with it. I can't believe the reporters really believe some of that stuff. But they turn it in and the next thing you know, there it is in the paper or on the TV.

Q: Someone sent me an e-mail asking if you have a good tax attorney?

A: The beauty of it is, I'm so broke it doesn't matter. I'm sure I'll be in for it, the anti-Clinton audit.

Q: As a prosecutor in Chicago you had a lot of experience with organized crime. Do you see any comparisons between the method of operation of intimidation and the parsing of words? What comparisons can you see between the way the mob functioned in Chicago in your backyard and what you experienced during the impeachment?

A: There were a lot of parallels. There were an awful lot. But the intimidation was one of the most dominant. The ability to just change facts whenever they want. But there is one big difference -- and I mean this -- among the outfit (mob) people.

Q: There is more honor?

A: Exactly! They at least have a code of honor. For five years, I hammered those guys, me and my gang. And not once was there the suggestion that they would go after my family or anyone like that or try to destroy me personally. There was kind of an unholy agreement -- if I caught 'em, I caught 'em, as long as I did it fair.

Q: You're just doing a job.

A: Yes. That's how they felt. But with this gang, they don't care whether you're doing your job or not. They'll come after you.

Q: You have a chapter on something I've spent a decade talking about and a lot more during the Clinton administration: abuse of power, specifically abuse of power under the color of authority. They've just about elevated this to an art form, haven't they?

A: Yeah, and I'll tell you, that was one of the big disappointments. I thought the abuse of power was going to be our strongest article. I really did, going into the Senate. With abuse of power, we could have brought in that Citizenship USA stuff. We could have brought in a lot of other things. There was abuse of the office of president. It was used constantly to intimidate and to do other things.

Unfortunately, in the House committee, an amendment that was voted on by the GOP effectively emasculated that article, so going into the House it was a giveaway. We knew we couldn't win that one. There was a lot of discussion. They asked me, "If you had your choice, which would you take? Would you take the perjury in the deposition, or the obstruction of justice?" I originally said I wanted them both because we need the evidence. The perjury in the deposition I thought was much stronger.

But I said, "If we have to have a choice, I want the obstruction of justice, because all the other material could be brought in under that." We were looking forward to a trial, so we got the obstruction of justice and lost the one on the deposition perjury. But even under obstruction of justice, we could have brought the perjury in. We could have brought the whole thing in because it was all part of the same scheme. It was all part of the same conspiracy.

Q: We teach our kids that there are consequences to actions. You do good things, you get rewarded. You do bad things, you get punished. It seems as if, especially with this current administration, that the whole paradigm has just been flushed down the toilet.

A: It seems as if the people who have been doing the bad are getting the rewards and the people who come out and try to do the right thing are getting hurt. That's what I've seen. What really bothered me were the attacks on these women, the women who are telling the truth --what they did with Monica and Dolly Browning and Juanita Broaddrick and those other women.

Q: I heard there were a hundred Jane Does.

A: But did you notice how few have come out? They are terrified. Juanita Broaddrick, the only reason she didn't come out earlier was because she was afraid that they would trash her, which of course they did.

Q: Do you think the FBI files and the product of Filegate have anything to do with the way Congress voted and the Republicans folded like a house of cards?

A: My honest opinion is that we reaped the whirlwind of Filegate in the Senate of the United States. Otherwise, the attitude of some senators is completely inexplicable. I have no hard evidence of that. But my opinion is that when they outed Speaker Livingston, THAT was the message: "Not only do we have this stuff, but we will use it."

Q: You are not the Lone Ranger in that assessment. A lot of people feel the reason this alleged Republican leadership doesn't have the guts to lead and do anything is because they are being intimidated by this sword of Damocles hanging over their heads.

A: One of the things that bothered the heck out of us in the House was that Newt Gingrich would tell us one thing then he'd meet with Gephardt and, the next thing you know, he'd do exactly the opposite. For example, we didn't want to release any of that garbage that came out at the beginning. Gephardt wanted it out and so did Gingrich and therefore, it came out. And I think it did infinite harm to our cause because the media picked up immediately on the sex aspect of it, and the public from that time on looked upon it as only sex and not gross abuse of power.