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“Until death do us part.” The moral swamp that is John McCain

Posted by Charles II on November 2, 2008

“John, don’t be silly. You can call me anything…I’m yours until death do us part.” –Charles Keating, 1923- ?

Sahil Mahtani, The New Republic (via t/o):

Yet the Ethics Committee’s was not the only investigation into the [Keating 5] scandal. There were two other probes at the time that got barely any public attention – both of which largely focused on McCain himself. These were probes into illicit leaks about the proceedings of the Ethics Committee – leaks that repeatedly benefited McCain and hurt his Keating Five colleagues. One of those senators described the leaks at the time as a “violation of ethical behavior at least as serious as anything of which we senators have been accused.”

The leaks, if they were coming from a senator, were also illegal.

All five senators – including McCain – had testified under oath and under the U.S. penal code that the leaks did not come from their camps. The leaks were also prohibited by rules of the Senate Ethics Committee; according to the rules of the Senate, anyone caught leaking such information could face expulsion from the body. These, then, were not the usual Washington disclosures: Discovered, they could have stopped the career of any Washington politician in his tracks.

The two investigations into the leaks suggested McCain’s involvement but were officially inconclusive. New evidence, obtained in recent weeks, again points back to the McCain camp. The investigator of those leaks now says that he does not doubt that they came from McCain or his team. A reporter who possessed evidence in the Keating case now says he believes that McCain was the source and got away with it. Finally, a senator who has emerged as a key backer of McCain’s presidential campaign turns out to have authored a letter stating flatly that McCain was the source of the damning leaks. Put together, a large record of evidence now points in the direction of Senator McCain. Far from McCain’s reputation of putting “country first,” these leaks depict a formidable politician willing to go through great lengths to maintain his standing. ….

The leaks had instant impact. One source close to the case described them as “backfires lit in the beltway press and in the states where the five senators were from.” There were nine in all, some correct, some incorrect. Almost all of them – eight to be precise – either exonerated McCain or implicated the other senators.

Essentially, the leaks deflected public attention away from McCain and toward his colleagues. …

To investigate those leaks, two investigations were convened: one private, by the Senate Ethics Committee and conducted by Clark “Bud” Hall; the other public, by the Senate’s Temporary Special Independent Counsel, New York lawyer Peter Fleming. Howell Heflin, the Democratic Senator from Alabama who chaired the six-person Ethics Committee, consisting of three Democrats and three Republicans, took the matter very seriously…

McCain would not respond to any of Hall’s questions about the leaks, but every so often would say, “you’re crazy,” “you’re crazy, man, you’re crazy.” This went on for about 15 minutes by Hall’s estimation.

“It was one of the strangest things I’ve seen,” says Hall. “And as a professional investigator, I’ve interviewed a lot of weird people. … I am a professional investigator and he treated me like some guy off the street. I just came away with a very bad impression.” …

Washington Times reporter Jerry Seper told a congressional staffer that he heard a taped conversation between McCain and Paul Rodriguez, his colleague at the Times who wrote many of the stories containing the leaks, and that he had also received independent information confirming McCain as the source of the leaks.

… A letter from Rudman to Heflin (now in Heflin’s archives) that states unambiguously that McCain was involved with at least some of the leaks, according to Steve Raby, who was Heflin’s chief of staff at the time and recently reread the later…. This letter would square with what Rudman wrote in his 1996 autobiography, that McCain and his staff were among those responsible for the leaks. …

Had either of the leaks probes found McCain guilty, in all likelihood he would have been recommended for censure by the Ethics Committee, but also possibly faced expulsion by the Senate or charged with perjury for having lied under oath. As it was, the worst that happened is that those observing McCain reevaluated the senator. Said one source close to the leaks investigation, “It pricked the balloon I had that McCain might have had integrity.”

(emphasis added)

So much for the integrity of John McCain, not to mention Warren Rudman.

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One Response to ““Until death do us part.” The moral swamp that is John McCain”

  1. Yup. HuffPo’s picked up on this, too.

    An Arizona acquaintance of mine says that this is the real McCain — the “straight-talker” image was a myth boosted by the bamboozled and GOP-friendly media.

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