Yesterday, offering a hint of the attack White House allies will launch on special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald if and when he announces any indictments, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison dismissed the possible felony indictment of perjury as a mere “technicality”:
Ms. Hutchison said she hoped “that if there is going to be an indictment that says something happened, that it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury technicality where they couldn’t indict on the crime and so they go to something just to show that their two years of investigation was not a waste of time and taxpayer dollars.”
On February 2, 1999, Hutchison stood with a bipartisan group of senators at a press conference announcing a resolution to open the Senate trial on the impeachment of President Clinton. At the time, Hutchison said it was vitally important to prosecute on perjury charges because telling the truth is the lynch pin of our criminal justice system:
[S]omething needs to be said that is a clear message that our rule of law is intact and the standards for perjury and obstruction of justice are not gray. And I think it is most important that we make that statement and that it be on the record for history.
I very much worry that with the evidence that we have seen that grand juries across America are going to start asking questions about what is obstruction of justice, what is perjury. And I don’t want there to be any lessening of the standard. Because our system of criminal justice depends on people telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. That is the lynch pin of our criminal justice system and I don’t want it to be faded in any way.
Sen. Hutchison, what kind of message is it sending to grand juries to say that an indictment of perjury is not a crime, just a technicality? And what does that do to our criminal justice system?