Lawyer who represented Bill Clinton during impeachment advises Trump and Giuliani: ‘When you're in a hole, stop digging’

Lawyer who represented Bill Clinton during impeachment advises Trump and Giuliani: ‘When you're in a hole, stop digging’
Ralph Alswang, Office of the President - Clinton Presidential Library

With President Donald Trump facing an impeachment inquiry in the U.S. House of Representatives, legal experts who were around during the last two presidential impeachment inquiries — Richard Nixon in the 1970s, Bill Clinton in the late 1990s — are receiving their share of interview requests. And attorney Greg Craig, who represented Clinton during his impeachment, has some advice for Trump and his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani: “when you’re in a hole, stop digging.”

Those were Craig’s exact words during an interview for ABC News’ podcast “The Investigation.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, previously the most high-ranking impeachment skeptic in the Democratic Party, changed her mind in September after learning that Trump, in a July 25 phone conversation, tried to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into investigating former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.  And Trump’s response has been to rail against Pelosi and refuse to cooperate with House Democrats when it comes to witnesses and documents pertaining to their impeachment inquiry — which Craig believes is a major blunder. By trying to keep House Democrats away from witnesses and documents, Craig stressed to ABC News, Trump is only making things worse for himself.

“I think the process that the White House has adopted as of now almost guarantees that there’s going to be at least one count of obstruction of justice,” Craig warned. “Because it’s very hard to believe that their position is in good faith other than just trying to prevent access to evidence that’s pertinent.”

Two of the three U.S. presidents who previously faced impeachment in the House were acquitted in Senate trials and served out the remainder of their terms: Clinton in the late 1990s and Andrew Johnson in the 1860s (there was never a Senate trial with Nixon because he resigned in August 1974). And Clinton, Craig recalls, coped with impeachment by focusing on being “the very best president he could be” and leaving the legal work to his lawyers.

In contrast, Trump — according to Craig — is hurting himself by attempting “the lawyering of his own case” and risks “adding more fuel to the fire of those people who are trying to remove him from office.”

So far, Pelosi and other House Democrats have kept their impeachment inquiry focused on the Ukraine scandal and have avoided expanding it to include former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. And Craig believes that it is a wise move.

“I think it is clearly becoming the focus of this Ukraine conversation, the use of the presidential power in ways that are unacceptable and inappropriate and unconstitutional and inconsistent with his oath,” Craig told ABC News. “That's what I think we are focused on, and I think it would be a mistake to focus elsewhere.”

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card


Thanks for your support!

Did you enjoy AlterNet this year? Join us! We're offering AlterNet ad-free for 15% off - just $2 per week. From now until March 15th.