by J.M. Zeifman ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 18, 1996
Former House Judiciary Committee chief counsel Zeifman serves up a yeasty brew of unflattering Watergate-related gossip and notes a surprising legacy of the era. Using as a primary source the diary he kept while serving as chief counsel, Zeifman now writes of his relationships with Judiciary Committee chairman Peter Rodino, other members of the Judiciary Committee, special prosecutors, and key Watergate figures like John Dean and Richard Kleindienst. The insider's picture that emerges of Beltway back-scratching is not pretty, particularly a conversation in January 1973 in which Rodino asked then attorney general Kleindienst to trump up a criminal charge against a political opponent. Kleindienst broadly implied in response that Rodino would have to help the administration reduce the political fallout from Watergate. Although Rodino did not comply, the author charges that the committee's staff ultimately delayed its Watergate investigation and that much of the impeachment inquiry was motivated by politics. Investigative activities, the author agrees, were obliquely directed by Burke Marshall, a Yale professor who wanted to have Ted Kennedy elected president in 1976. Marshall, special counsel John Doer, and staffers Hillary Rodham and Bernard Nussbaum (preferring that Nixon meet electoral defeat rather than be impeached) espoused legal views that tended to protect the president. Once the Judiciary Committee considered articles of impeachment, it became clear that the inquiry staff had undertaken little independent investigation. Zeifman argues that the surreptitious actions during the Clinton administration of Nussbaum (who resigned as White House counsel in 1994 amid charges that he improperly interfered with the workings of federal agencies) and of Hillary Rodham Clinton, who shrouded the health care task force in secrecy in violation of statutes, had their roots in the secret acts of the House impeachment inquiry staff. In a significant historical document, Zeifman sheds light on the workings of the Judiciary Committee's impeachment staff, although not all will share his highly unfavorable judgments of some of the key players.
Pub Date: March 18, 1996
Page Count: 300
Publisher: Thunder's Mouth
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1996
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