“Lawyers who investigated Clinton and Nixon see important differences with Trump’s impeachment inquiry”
Michael Conway remembers when he got the call.
A member of Yale Law School’s class of 1973, alongside Bill and Hillary Clinton, Conway had just started practicing law in Chicago when one of his former professors, Burke Marshall, called him the following year. Marshall, a former assistant attorney general for the civil rights division under presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, asked Conway if he’d be interested in working for the U.S. House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry staff investigating President Richard M. Nixon. Despite having just started a job at a law firm and being dissuaded by several partners, Conway didn’t think twice.
“I’ll see you on Sunday,” he told John Doar, lead special counsel for the impeachment inquiry. It was Thursday when they spoke.
As hearings got underway in mid-November for only the third impeachment inquiry of a U.S. president in the last 50 years, Conway and other attorneys involved in prior investigations of presidents facing impeachment cautioned against drawing too many parallels between President Donald Trump and Clinton and Nixon.
…“While it’s constitutionally mandated that the Senate will have to take this up, there’s no road map,” says Robert Ray, independent counsel from 1999 to 2002 who issued the final report on the Whitewater matter and finalized a deal with Clinton on the latter’s last full day in office in which the president admitted giving false testimony under oath in exchange for a fine and five-year suspension of his law license. “The Senate sits as the court of impeachment—but that only requires that they be under oath and the chief justice presides.”
According to Ray, who is currently a partner at Thompson & Knight, all sorts of procedural options are open to the Senate, including adjourning the matter indefinitely or entertaining a motion to dismiss.
“I would assume that there’s a motion to dismiss like there was with Clinton,” says Ray, referring to a motion filed in late January by Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) that was rejected, largely, along party lines. “I’m not sure we can assume it will come out the same way as with Clinton.”