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The Rise of the Religious Right in the Republican Party

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Clinton's Impeachment

Soon after Clinton took office, a vast far-right network moved into action to attack and discredit him.

Richard Mellon Scaife, a major donor to the Religious Right, financed the Arkansas Project with $2.4 million.  As a result,  Arkansas investigators paid witnesses to testify against the Clintons and Whitewater quickly became headline news. The Whitewater trial concluded that there was no wrong-doing -- but the trial closed after Clinton left office. And the former President was stuck with the legal bills.

A Salon investigative report details how the Rev. Jerry Falwell and a California political organization helped finance and orchestrate an extensive anti-Clinton propaganda campaign. "The Clinton Chronicles" is probably the best known video attacking Clinton with spurious conspiracy theories. The  Clinton Chronicles, was distributed to every member of Congress, and Falwell alone sold 60,000 copies. The video is presented as a secular investigative narrative, but is produced by Jeremiah films which specializes in apocalyptic Christian fundamentalist videos. Jeremiah is one of several projects of Pat Matrisciana, who also runs Citizens for Honest Government.

Citizens For Honest Government produced an "impeachment organizers kit." The kit  tells us when and where the impeachment resolution was conceived -- at a meeting of the  Council for National Policy (CNP) in June, 1997. January 17, 1988, the President was legally trapped by denying under oath that he had had an affair with Monika Lewinsky. So the President's impeachment was conceived seven months before he denied the affair with Lewinski under oath.

As Fred Clarkson reports in The Public Eye:

the Council for National Policy (CNP) played a key networking role in promoting anti-Clinton activism and developing impeachment strategies. In September 1994, the group mailed copies of The Clinton Chronicles video to all 500 or so of its members with a cover letter urging them to "pass it on to a friend, relative, business associate, public official or member of the media, [because] as many Americans as possible should become informed about the evil which infests the Clinton Administration.

The CNP, which meets quarterly behind closed doors, is so secretive that the groups Washington office will neither confirm nor deny where, or even if, the group meets. As CNP founding father Weyrich once put it: "We are no longer working to preserve the status quo. We are radicals, working to overturn the present power structure in this country."

Christopher Shays, (R-CT) one of a handful of Republicans who voted against the impeachment, told the Jim Leher news hour that the President had not committed any high crimes, so there was not an impeachable offense.

I don't believe he committed high crimes, and that's where I really had to make my determination on whether the president should be impeached or not. I thought high crimes were the misuse of the FBI and the IRS and the White House Travel Office. And Mr. Starr cleared him of that. I thought it was a misuse and high crimes were committed in terms of 900 FBI files in the possession of the White House, mostly Republicans. And Mr. Starr cleared him of that. He cleared him of Whitewater. And so I'm left with the fact that the lesser crimes are really what's before Congress right now.

While technically the President lied under oath, the impeachment was conceived of seven months before he spoke under oath. The President should never have been dragged before Congress, the nation, and the world to be asked inappropriate questions in the first place. There were no "high crimes" as Representative Shays pointed out. Clinton had been cleared of all serious accusations. Initially, the impeachment was based upon sinning against the Ten Commandments. Underlying the impeachment trial was the enforcement of Biblical Law.

Only five Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives voted against the impeachment. This episode demonstrated the ability of the Religious Right to use a technicality to superimpose the Ten Commandments on constitutional law, and to win the support of moderates in the process.

"The Hunting of the President" is a documentary that exposes the Clinton attack machine. According to, the same tactics are now being used against Presidential candidate, John Kerry.

Last updated: November, 2004