Truth or Consequences?
1.Read the case, "Truth or Consequences?" which is presented below.
2.After reading the case, rank order the individuals in the case in terms of who should be considered most to least responsible for the impeachment of President Clinton.
3.That is, identify the individual who should be considered most responsible for the President’s ultimate impeachment by the House of Representatives, and rank that person #1; identify the second most responsible individual and rank him/her #2, and so on, until you get to the final individual, whom you believe to be least responsible, and rank him/her #6.
4.Make a note of the reasons that you ranked each character as you did in the space provided.
5.Bring this material to class with you.
1.In your groups, discuss your individual rankings from page 52 and the reasons for them. To facilitate this discussion, you may summarize member’s individual rankings in the table entitled “Group Rankings,” which is located on page 53.
2.As a group, identify a single set of rankings/reasons for the six individuals that all members of the group are willing to go along with. Write out these rankings/reasons in the table on page 53. Select a spokesperson to report your conclusions to the class. (15 minutes allowed for steps 1 and 2)
3.The instructor will post the group rankings on the board as each group presents its' report. Maximum time allowed per report will be 2 minutes. Pay attention to the different interpretations and assumptions made by different individuals and groups to the common set of facts.
4.The instructor will lead a discussion aimed at identifying ways in which perceptual and attributional processes could account for the differences in interpretation of the case by group members. This discussion will be structured around Figure 3.1, page 68 of the Hellriegel text.
Case: Truth or Consequences?
Monika Lewinsky began her internship at the White House in July of 1995 at the age of 21.  The following month, she and President Bill Clinton began what she referred to as a period of intense flirting. This flirting continued through the beginning of the fall 1995 government shutdown that resulted from the budget impasse between Republicans and the White House. Though the President had never even spoken to her personally, on November 15, the second day of the government shutdown, in the course of flirting with him, Monika raised her jacket in the back to show the President the straps of her thong underwear. (The President later confided to advisor Dick Morris that when he saw that, he just couldn’t control himself). Later that evening, Monika told the President that she had a crush on him. He invited her to see his private office, where they kissed and fondled each other, and she performed oral sex on him for the first time. They engaged in additional encounters of mutual fondling, with Monika performing oral sex, on a number of occasions between November of 1995 and March of 1996. In January of 1996, Monika had complained to the President that he did not seem interested in getting to know her personally, and asked if their relationship was only about sex. In February, they began having lengthy personal conversations. In April of 1996, Monika was transferred to the Pentagon because several Clinton staffers felt she was getting too familiar with the President. She and the President had no further private meetings or sexual encounters until early 1997. On February 28, 1997, they had their first sexual encounter in 11 months, resulting in the infamous stain on the navy blue dress, which ultimately provided Ken Starr with proof of their sexual relationship. The President terminated their sexual relationship on May 24, 1997. He told Monika that while he had had hundreds of affairs earlier in his marriage, since turning 40 he had made a concerted effort to be faithful.
During this period, Monika told a number of her friends, including Linda Tripp (a coworker at the Pentagon) about her sexual liaisons with the President. Linda Tripp had begun working at the White House under President Bush, and considered it to be a great honor. She was, however, offended at what she felt was the looseness of the Clinton White House. She soon fell out of favor with the Clinton White House staff. In March of 1997, a reporter from Newsweek got a reluctant Linda Tripp to admit that she had seen a disheveled Kathleen Willey come out of the Oval Office with her lipstick smeared and her skirt askew. After her name was published in Newsweek, along with an attack on her credibility by the President’s lawyer, William Bennett, Tripp began to fear for her job. For years, Bill Clinton’s political machine had been known for “destroying” any political enemies who might threaten him. For example, after Gennifer Flowers claimed to have had a 12 year sexual affair with then Governor Bill Clinton in Arkansas, Clinton supporters savagely attacked her reputation and credibility. Questions about her credibility and morality were splashed across the media nationwide. Bill Clinton categorically denied the affair. One of his advisors, James Carville, told the press that “When you drag a $50 bill through a trailer park, you attract all kinds of trash.” (Ironically, Clinton finally admitted to a sexual relationship with Flowers during his January 1998 deposition in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case.)
In the fall of 1997, Monika Lewinsky was trying to convince Linda Tripp to deny the Lewinsky/Clinton affair in the event that she was subpoenaed in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case. Lewinsky told Tripp that the President had said if she (Monika) was asked about the affair, she should just look them in the eye and deny it, since no one could prove that it ever happened if they both denied it. Lewinsky told Tripp that she planned to lie under oath and deny the affair, as the President had suggested, and she urged Tripp to do the same. Lewinsky warned Tripp that if she contradicted her and the President, she (Tripp) would be isolated and vulnerable, and her job would be in jeopardy. Tripp was unwilling to lie under oath, but uncertain of the outcome if her testimony contradicted that of Monika and the President. She feared the type of malicious, personal attacks that had been wrought on Gennifer Flowers and others. She was particularly fearful that she might lose her government job. Consequently, Linda Tripp began taping her telephone conversations with Monika Lewinsky, and later convinced Monika to save the stained navy blue dress as protection for the future. Many people have said that if it weren’t for Linda Tripp, the Clinton/Lewinsky affair, like so many others, would never have been exposed.
Paula Jones was an Arkansas state employee who filed a sexual harassment suit against Bill Clinton shortly after he took office as President. She claims that he had her brought to a hotel room by a state trooper, where he exposed himself to her and asked her to perform oral sex on him. In this lawsuit, Jones received legal assistance from a variety of politically conservative groups who also opposed Bill Clinton. Clinton and his advisors refused an opportunity to settle the Paula Jones suit out of court in fall of 1997, and vowed to fight on and destroy this opposition. Later legal decisions resulted in the President being forced to provide a sworn deposition in the Paula Jones case. In this deposition, he denied ever having sexual relations with Monika Lewinsky. Shortly thereafter, the Paula Jones sexual harassment case was dismissed on a technicality. The judge ruled that even if Mr. Clinton’s behavior had occurred, since Paula Jones suffered no losses from the alleged harassment, she had no right to sue. (Ironically, shortly thereafter a Supreme Court decision upheld the right of a woman to sue for harassment under just such circumstances.) Many have argued that if Paula Jones had not filed suit, questions about the President’s marital indiscretions would have been forgotten long ago.
Ken Starr, the special prosecutor appointed to investigate alleged wrongdoing by the Clintons, had spent millions of dollars and thousands of hours investigating Whitewater, Filegate, Travelgate, and other issues. He and his staff were frustrated because they could not prove any wrongdoing by the President, though they were convinced through many bits of evidence that the President’s behavior included an ongoing, longstanding pattern of inappropriate actions and legal abuses. When Linda Tripp went to Ken Starr out of fear for her job and her reputation with the allegations about the Lewinsky affair and the alleged cover-up by the White House, Starr sought and received additional jurisdiction to investigate the matter. He granted Tripp immunity for her testimony, but did not require a pledge of silence from her, as he could have. (Interestingly, on the same evening that she spoke to Ken Starr, Linda Tripp called Paula Jones’ lawyers and briefed them on the allegations regarding the Lewinsky affair. Jones lawyers used this information to set what some have regarded as a “perjury trap” for the President.) Starr has been described by his supporters as an independent prosecutor who pursued the truth, and by his detractors as an overzealous prosecutor who didn’t know when to quit. Many have argued that the Lewinsky affair would never have been publicly exposed if Ken Starr had not pursued it so vigorously.
According to Starr, President Clinton could have told the whole truth in response to questions posed to him during the Paula Jones testimony, but Clinton chose not to. Instead, as he later admitted, Clinton chose to evade and mislead Paula Jone’s attorneys. Shortly thereafter, Clinton purposely misled his staff and the American people by repeatedly stating that he had not had “sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky.” According to some, Clinton lied to his staff, and got his staff to lie for him. They argue that he used the power of the Presidency through legal claims of “Executive Privilege” to slow down and impede the Starr investigation. For eight months, Clinton insisted that Lewinsky was lying, and that she was an emotionally unstable sexual predator who had fantasized about a relationship with him that she could not have. Only DNA testing of the stained navy blue dress caused him to admit to an “improper relationship” with Monika Lewinsky on August 17, 1998, though he still adamantly refused to admit to lying or making false statements to either the Paula Jones attorneys or the Starr grand jury.
After publication of the Starr report in September, the House Judiciary Committee began impeachment hearings, as required by the Constitution to deal with allegations of presidential wrongdoing. Committee Democrats consistently complained about what they felt was an unfair and inappropriate process occurring within the Committee, but the majority Republicans consistently outvoted them. Republicans argued that the President must set an example as the chief law enforcement officer in the country, and that perjury by the President cannot be ignored. Democrats argued that the President’s misconduct would be unfairly and inappropriately handled through impeachment, since lying about a sexual relationship to avoid embarrassment and to protect one’s family does not rise to the level of “high crimes or misdemeanors” required by the Constitution to impeach a sitting president. Neither Republicans, Democrats, nor the White House seemed to dispute the basic facts presented in the Starr report. However, Democrats consistently pointed to public opinion polls indicating strong approval ratings for President Clinton’s job performance, and strong public opposition to impeachment of the President in the Lewinsky matter. The Democrats developed a censure proposal to end the matter quickly in line with the public’s wishes. The Republicans who controlled the House of Representatives refused to allow a vote on the Democrat’s censure proposal, and instead forced a vote on impeachment. Ultimately, four articles of impeachment were voted along party lines by the Committee and forwarded to the full House of Representatives. After a heated, partisan debate, two of the articles were passed, again essentially along party lines, with most Republicans voting in favor, and most Democrats voting against. Thus, on December 19, 1998, Bill Clinton became only the second President in United States history to be impeached by the House of Representatives.
Question: Among the participants listed below, who should be considered the most to the least responsible for the impeachment of President Clinton?
Republicans in Congress
Individual RankingsRank / Name / Reasons
Summary of Group Member Rankings
Frequency of Being Ranked
Consensus Group Rankings
Be sure to record your group’s reasons for your final rankings for presentation to the class.Rank / Name / Reasons
 1999, All Rights Reserved, David M. Leuser, Ph.D. Ryan Brook Associates, PO Box 158, Plymouth, NH 03264. Phone: 603-535-2492 E-mail:
 The material in this paragraph is drawn primarily from Prosecutor Ken Starr’s Report of the Independent Counsel to Congress, September 1998.