[Grovenet] Bush commutes Libby prison sentence - Yahoo! News

Michael O'Brien rune777 at verizon.net
Tue Jul 3 16:53:56 PDT 2007

At 12:45 PM 7/3/2007, Bob Browning wrote:
>Libby was charged the same as Clinton, lying under oath, which is perjury, 
>which is a crime!!

A wily defense lawyer--or do I repeat myself?--would argue that Clinton 
didn't commit the crime of perjury at all.  His misrepresentations (i.e., 
lies) about his affair with Monica Lewinsky were certainly under oath, 
since they were made at a sworn deposition, but they weren't "material" in 
the context of the Paula Jones lawsuit.  (See the definition below.)

Like it or not, a lie under oath is not "perjury" unless it relates to a 
"material issue" rather than a collateral matter, like Clinton's affair 
with Lewinsky.  (See Oregon Revised Statutes 162.065, for example.)  From a 
strictly legal point of view, the perjury charge at Clinton's impeachment 
trial was a no-brainer.  Any reasonable jury would've quickly decided the 
case in his favor, but a politicized Senate still mustered 45 votes to 
convict (and 55 to acquit)--well short of the 2/3 majority needed to remove 
a president.

Clinton's lies were breathtakingly stupid and inexcusable, but they weren't 
a crime.  He was trying to prevent public embarrassment to himself and his 
family rather than cover up a criminal conspiracy.  He still had to pay a 
$90,000 fine for civil contempt of court for his misleading testimony, and 
he lost his license to practice law.  A judge threw Paula Jones' civil case 
out of court, but Clinton paid her an extravagant settlement just to make 
her go away (and avoid an appeal).  He was never prosecuted for perjury or 
any other offense.

Dubya is the only president who has ever been convicted of a crime.


Here's a decent working definition of "material:"  "relevant and 
significant in a lawsuit, as in 'material evidence' as distinguished from 
totally irrelevant or of such minor importance that the court will either 
ignore it, rule it immaterial if objected to, or not allow lengthy 
testimony upon such a matter."

Source:  http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Material

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