The conservatives -- primarily writers at The American Spectator -- had a devilish plan to investigate Bill Clinton's venality, corruption and crimes as governor of Arkansas. At the conclusion of their little scheme, the Spectator intended to publish the fruits of their conspiracy as widely as possible.
This is a highly unusual strategy for a criminal conspiracy. Typically, conspiracies are marked by hiding evidence, losing billing records and developing amnesia -- pretty much everything the Clintons did. Rarely do criminal conspiracies plot to write magazine articles about their dirty business.
Though you wouldn't know it from the behavior of the mainstream media, it is not, strictly speaking, against the law to publish articles critical of Democratic presidents. And it is not against the law to associate with individuals reputed to be conservatives engaged in journalism. (In fact, it's not even against the law to consort with known felons, like Bill Clinton, or convicted felons, like Webb Hubbell.)
But wait! That's not all. The Democrats also charge that Olson's legal fees for one particular client, David Hale, were paid by a third party, Richard Mellon Scaife, also reported to be a conservative. (BEGIN ITALS)Have you ever received money from a conservative, Mr. Olson?(END ITALS) In paranoid liberal fantasies, this is pretty much how McCarthyism worked.
For the record, it is not illegal for a third party to pay legal fees. If it were, Bill Clinton would be bankrupt and Barbra Streisand would be in jail -- which, come to think of it, isn't a bad idea.
Finally, the Democrats allege that The American Spectator paid some of its sources -- a practice which, if illegal, would put the National Enquirer out of business.
None of these accusations are true. Indeed, their only support comes from David Brock, a journalist who made a name for himself by denouncing his own prior work because he couldn't trust himself to distinguish fact from fiction. He then went on tour as a Clinton flack, where he publicly endorsed the practice of telling lies when necessary. If this were a criminal case against Olson, no prosecutor would dare put a witness like Brock on the stand. But to Senate Democrats, Brock is an oracle.
Still, the truth of the allegations is really beside the point. What about the allegations themselves? If all the charges against Olson are true, Senate Democrats have painstakingly established that Olson is a conservative.
In case there is any doubt about the accusation here, the Inspector Clouseau of this criminal probe, Sen. Patrick Leahy, explicitly states in his published statement that the "principle [sic] question" is whether Olson's "connection with so many far-reaching anti-Clinton efforts marks Mr. Olson as a thoroughgoing partisan."
Immediately forgetting what the "principle question" was, Leahy then goes on to insist he is concerned only with alleged "discrepancies" in Olson's testimony -- not the underlying criminal behavior of being a conservative. Liberals are always wrapping their comically irrelevant charges in a haze of lies, and this is a lie: There are no discrepancies in Olson's testimony, as has been ably demonstrated by Sen. Orrin Hatch.
But this is no time to be getting bogged down in the dry specifics of Olson's testimony. The point is: Liberals are trying to make it a criminal offense to criticize Democrats.
Here are a few completely representative excerpts from the Democrats' bill of particulars against Olson as set forth in Senator Leahy's published statement:
So the perp may have had knowledge of journalism before it was committed. In addition, he may have personally, himself, committed acts of journalism. Not content to commit journalism, conservatives were also engaging in parties and dinner!
J'accuse Ted Olson!
Continuing the ritualized innuendo of this Kabuki theater, Leahy intones: "We do not know what Mr. Olson did as lawyer and when he did it." What is he talking about? Using phrases like "a quote he does not disavow," or "what he does not deny" cannot obscure that what no one is denying or disavowing is that Olson didn't care much for Bill Clinton.
That's probably why Bush nominated him. It might be nice for a change to have a solicitor general at the Department of Justice who doesn't like criminals.