Politics and scandal

October 30, 2013

Your front page article on the scandals surrounding the gubernatorial candidacy of Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler included a photograph of former President Bill Clinton over the caption "Survived Monica Lewinsky scandal and impeachment trial" ("Surviving scandal, or not," Oct. 26).

One of the only good things to come out of this sordid chapter in U.S. history was that reporters as well as the public came to understand, if only briefly, the correct definition of the word "impeachment."

Former President Clinton did not "survive" an "impeachment trial" because there is no such thing. He was in fact impeached -- by the U.S. House of Representatives -- in a process that is similar to the handing down of an indictment. In other words, the House, by determining there was sufficient evidence to hold President Clinton over for trial, played the role of grand jury, not trial jury.

As a result of the impeachment, a trial was subsequently held in the U.S. Senate to determine if the president had committed transgressions serious enough to require removal from office. It was this trial the president survived.

Moreover, the scandal that Mr. Clinton survived was not the "Monica Lewinsky scandal." As a grown man whose personal decisions resulted in months and months of national anguish and enormous governmental distraction, it was truly his scandal not hers.

Deborah M. Roffman, Baltimore

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