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In new book, Boehner says he regrets Clinton’s impeachment

WASHINGTON – Former Ohio Republican President John Boehner says in a new brief that he regrets supporting the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, calling it a partisan attack that he now wishes he had repudiated.

In his book “On the House: A Washington Memoir,” a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, Mr. Boehner blames Rep. Tom DeLay of Texas, then the Second Republican, for waging a politically motivated campaign against Mr. Clinton on his affair with Monica Lewinsky, a White House intern.

The Republican-led House voted to impeach Mr. Clinton on two counts in 1998. He was acquitted by the Senate.

“In my opinion the Republicans removed him for one reason and one reason only – because it was strongly recommended to us by a certain Tom DeLay,” Mr Boehner writes. “Tom believed that Clinton’s impeachment would win all of those House seats, be a great political victory, and he convinced enough members and the GOP base that this was true.

“I was on board at the time,” continued Mr. Boehner. “I will not pretend otherwise. But I regret it now. I regret not having fought him.

Mr Boehner’s memoir, the cover of which is a photograph of the former speaker holding a glass of Merlot, with a lit cigarette in an ashtray next to him – his natural habitat for decades – are replete with colorful stories of his time in Congress.

He does not punch those he sees as far-right bomb throwers in his party. (He saves several particularly violent insults for Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.) And he issues a scathing denunciation of Donald J. Trump, claiming that the current former president “instigated this bloody insurgency” through his supporters on Capitol Hill on January 6 and that the Republican Party has been taken over by “underground jobs”.

“Mr. Trump’s refusal to accept the election result not only cost Republicans the Senate, but led to mob violence,” Boehner writes.

Mr Boehner also details on the record some of Capitol Hill’s most discussed exchanges, including when Rep. Don Young, Republican of Alaska, pulled a knife at Mr Boehner in the House after a critical speech on the darling projects in progress. Alaska.

“Sometimes I can still feel this thing against my throat,” Mr Boehner writes. (The two would fix things later and Mr. Boehner would witness Mr. Young’s wedding.)

Mr Boehner is also relaying a meeting in his office in which Mark Meadows, then Republican representative for North Carolina and leader of the Right-wing Freedom Caucus, knelt to ask for forgiveness after an attempted coup. State against Mr. Boehner. lack.

“Shortly after the vote – a vote which, like many Freedom Caucus efforts ended in miserable failure – I was told that Meadows wanted to meet with me one-on-one,” Mr. Boehner. “Before I knew it he had dropped off the couch and was on his knees. Right there on my mat. It was a first. His hands joined in front of him as if he was about to pray. ‘Mr. Mr President, forgive me, ”he said, or words to that effect.”

Mr Boehner says he has wondered, for the moment, what “the elite and uncompromising group of warriors of Mr. Meadows’ Freedom Caucus would have made their star organizer on the verge of tears. was not my problem.

Mr Boehner watches the man who would later become Mr Trump’s chief of staff in the White House.

“I took a long, slow puff of my Camel cigarette,” he wrote. “Let the tension hang on a bit, you know?” I looked at my pack of camels on the desk next to me, then I looked at him and asked him (like I didn’t know): ‘For what?’ “

Maggie Haberman contributed reporting from New York.

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