Bill Clinton can blame his wife and a House GOP in disarray after disastrous midterm elections for his 1998 impeachment and 1999 Senate trial on perjury and obstruction charges. Former Republican Rep. James Rogan, a House prosecutor who was the only key player to keep a diary of the epic event, reveals in the most unvarnished tale yet how nobody in Washington wanted to move forward on the case, but there just wasn’t anybody in leadership to stop the train wreck from happening. In Catching Our Flag, due soon to bookstores, the former California lawmaker, now a Superior Court judge in Fullerton, Calif., says that after the election, GOP leaders wanted to drop the impeachment, fearing it would make Republicans even more unpopular. But the internal war that prompted former Speaker Newt Gingrich to quit led to a leadership vacuum in which “nobody was there to give us the marching orders to stop.” Add to that Hillary Clinton’s sudden decision, he writes, to stop talks for a deal because she didn’t think the GOP would dare to proceed. “A serious chance existed for Clinton to avoid impeachment, and Hillary Clinton killed that opportunity personally,” pens Rogan of the White House view, independently confirmed by Whispers. “These were all missed opportunities,” the folksy Rogan says in an interview.
Why now? Rogan fancies himself a historian and always wanted to write about the episode, but he also thought it wise to wait 10 years or more so personal feelings wouldn’t get in the way.
Of all the books that touch on Clinton’s impeachment and the Senate’s rejection of the charges, Rogan’s is among the most entertaining and fact-filled, built around his legal-pad diaries of behind-the-scenes planning sessions with other House impeachment managers. He tells, for example, of meeting with former Rep. Peter Rodino, chairman of the Nixon impeachment committee, who advised Rogan to tell Gingrich to take a hands-off approach to the case since he was third in line for the presidency.
He also had a chance to size up Clinton paramour Monica Lewinsky, finding her “snotty and spoiled.” And he says former Sen. Rick Santorum, a potential 2012 GOP presidential candidate, led others in refusing to let Rogan call witnesses in the Senate trial, a precedent that “concerns me greatly.”
Some 12 years later, Rogan still doesn’t know if Clinton should have resigned. But he feels sure it would have helped former Vice President Al Gore. “He’d be collecting a presidential pension now, re-election assured.”