Wednesday, January 20, 1999

Defense low-key till end

Charges addressed point by point

The Associated Press

President on trial
Latest updates from Associated Press
        WASHINGTON — White House counsel Charles Ruff met President Clinton's impeachment prosecutors blow for blow, say lawyers who gave strong marks to his argument Tuesday against the president's ouster.

        Defense lawyer Ira Reiner called Mr. Ruff's 21/2-hour presentation “superlative.”

        “It isn't that he soared to heights of eloquence,” added Mr. Reiner, a former Los Angeles district attorney. “It was just the power of words, particularly when he talked about what impeachment means.”

        Mr. Ruff asked senators, “Are we at that horrific moment in our history” when the only solution is to remove the president from office?

        Calm and low-key through most of his 21/2-hour presentation, his emotional closing answered House Judiciary Chairman Henry Hyde's invocation of war dead when House prosecutors opened their case last week.

        In a quivering voice, Mr. Ruff spoke of his father who fought in the Normandy invasion in World War II. “He didn't fight — no one fought — for one side of this case or the other,” the White House counsel said.

        “Until the closing it was every bit as methodical and non- charismatic as the House managers. It was a remarkable finish,” said Charles Geyh, director of the American Judicature Society's center for judicial independence.

        “It sort of met the managers blow for blow,” said Mr. Geyh, an Indiana University law professor.

        Mr. Reiner and others said Mr. Clinton's lawyers will have a hard time persuading enough senators not to call witnesses in the case. If all 45 Democratic senators voted next week to end the trial, they still would need six Republicans to join them.

        Joseph Di Genova, a Washington lawyer and former U.S. attorney, said Mr. Ruff's presentation “was sober. He did the only thing he could do, which was parse and deconstruct” the facts alleged by House prosecutors.

        Mr. Geyh said that if Mr. Ruff “had not gone blow by blow by blow (on factual issues), then the response would have been, "We're not hearing their defense on the facts.'”


Clinton's lawyer presents scathing rebuke
Both parties praise president's counsel
Chabot: Ruff got it wrong
- Defense low-key till end
GOP collecting, editing queries
Clinton Under Fire page