November 28, 2022

Mitchell: Reports of job offer erroneous

BRUNSWICK — Former U.S. Sen. George J. Mitchell is willing to do anything he can to help the embattled Clinton administration — as long as it doesn’t include taking a job in the White House.

After an address to students, faculty and friends Thursday evening at Bowdoin College, Mitchell quickly discounted published reports speculating that he had been offered a job at the White House to stem Clinton’s ebbing rapport with Congress.

Mitchell, who brokered the historic Irish peace accord earlier this year, said he had spoken with President Clinton last week while both were visiting Northern Ireland.

“I told him that I would like to be of help to him in any way that I can, but that I’m not interested in any position in the government,” he said, denying that Clinton had offered him a post. “When I left the Senate three years ago, I made the decision to devote my time to my family and my private life. That remains my intention.”

According to reports in this week’s Los Angeles Times and the Portland Press Herald, Mitchell was supposedly on a very short list of people being sought by the president to restore some level of credibility with Congress — particularly congressional Democrats. With the delivery this week of a lengthy report by independent prosecutor Kenneth Starr, many members of the president’s own party have distanced themselves from him as more details begin to emerge regarding Clinton’s sexual liaisons with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

As the former Senate majority leader, Mitchell still commands considerable respect in Congress, and the newspaper reports theorized he could restore some integrity to the Clinton team. Positions being bandied about by both newspapers for Mitchell included that of White House chief of staff, soon to be vacated by Erskine Bowles. There was also talk of the creation of a new post of White House liaison officer with Congress for any possible impeachment issues that might arise in the House.

“I just got back in the country a few hours ago and I’ve been made aware of all the speculation over the reports that appeared in the newspapers — many of them, of course, entirely inaccurate,” Mitchell said.

The man who once declined Clinton’s offer of a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court took a moment with reporters who had gathered at Bowdoin College to offer his own personal rebuke of Clinton’s sexual activities and ensuing nationally televised admission that he had lied to Americans.

“Any discussion of the subject must begin with the recognition that what the president did was wrong — seriously wrong,” Mitchell said. “It was conduct that should have been, and was, condemned. It was indefensible. Beyond that, it’s difficult for anyone to make a fair and balanced judgment, a responsible judgment, in the current atmosphere. The line in our society between fact and fiction, allegation and reality has been badly blurred.”

Mitchell went on to insist that simple “fairness” dictates Starr should provide the president with a copy of his report to allow him to respond to it. He warned the public not to rush to judgment on the basis of one-sided, unsubstantiated allegations.

“Nobody can make a final judgment until they’ve seen and carefully considered both the report and the response,” he said. “But at this time, based entirely on what I’ve seen in public accounts in newspapers and on television, I do not believe there is any basis for the president to be removed from office by impeachment or resignation.”

Mitchell said strong American leadership in the world requires an active and effective president to deal with a wide array of problems, ranging from terrorist attacks in Africa to the economic crisis in Russia.

“The president must be able to go back to work in behalf of America and the American people,” he said. “I saw firsthand in Northern Ireland the difference that President Clinton made. He’s the only president that made the ending of that conflict a high priority.”

Have feedback? Want to know more? Send us ideas for follow-up stories.

comments for this post are closed

You may also like