Former California Republican Rep. James E. Rogan is the author of the new book, “Catching Our Flag: Behind the Scenes of a Presidential Impeachment.”
Rogan, who is now a superior court judge in California, served as one of the lead prosecutors, or House Managers, in the Senate impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton.
Rogan recently agreed to answer 8 questions from The Daily Caller about his new book:
1. Why did you decide to write the book?
From my first day on the House Judiciary Committee, I knew if the scandal ever led to impeachment proceedings, future accounts would suffer from faulty memories or faulty motives … After keeping these diaries private for the last dozen years, I now open this archive for both modern readers and for history by telling the inside story on what led a very reluctant House of Representatives to impeach a then-very popular American president.
2. Why do you still maintain that the House impeachment of Clinton was vitally important?
I didn’t vote for impeachment to police Bill Clinton’s personal life. Whether he had one affair or a thousand of them was of no moment to me. I did care deeply about the precedent his conduct set for future chief executives who might later commit the same felonies for reasons weightier than testosterone…
Had the House failed to impeach Clinton just because of the tawdry subject matter underlying his crimes, any future president committing perjury or obstructing justice with far more destructive motives could point to the Clinton Precedent and claim his conduct was not impeachable.
3. Did you ever worry that the impeachment process was diverting the president’s attention from important issues of state?
Defending the rule of law and protecting the Constitution is the primary responsibility of any president. All other matters pale in comparison. Further, any suggestion that the business of government somehow slowed or stopped because of impeachment is without merit.
4. Do you think the Senate should have meted out a more significant punishment? Do you think, for instance, that Clinton should have been removed from office and prosecuted?
The Senate meted out no punishment. In fact, the Senate found Clinton “not guilty” — after precluding the House Managers from calling a single witness or presenting any evidence to prove our case.
Ironically, soon after the Clinton Senate trial ended, the federal judge before whom Clinton testified in the Paula Jones case found him in contempt of court for lying during his deposition…
Later, on January 19, 2001 (his last day as president), in a deal with federal prosecutors to avoid criminal charges, Clinton signed a plea bargain in which he admitted giving false testimony in the Paula Jones case — the same charge for which most Americans believed his vehement denials during the impeachment investigation and trial. Based on the same evidence upon which fifty-five United States Senators rushed to judgment and voted “not guilty”:
- Clinton accepted a five-year suspension of his Arkansas law license. This allowed him to avoid the stigma of having the Arkansas Supreme Court vote to disbar him, which they were about to do;
- Clinton agreed to pay an additional $25,000 fine;
- Clinton admitted he violated his ethical obligations as a lawyer under the Rules of Professional Conduct by giving false testimony;
- Clinton agreed not to seek reimbursement for his legal fees; and
- Clinton admitted that his false testimony violated Judge Wright’s discovery order in the Jones case.
After Clinton signed his criminal plea bargain, the United States Supreme Court suspended Clinton’s law license to practice before their Court. Clinton later resigned his U.S. Supreme Court law license to avoid the stigma of having our nation’s highest Court vote to disbar him, which they were about to do. The United States Supreme Court ordered that Bill Clinton’s name “be stricken from the roll of attorneys admitted to the practice of law before this Court.”