Bumpers de­fended Clin­ton in pres­i­dent’s im­peach­ment trial

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By KenMiller

Four years later, Bumpers chal­lenged and de­feated in­cum­bent Sen. J. Wil­liam Ful­bright in a Demo­cratic pri­mary, lead­ing to the “gi­ant killer” nick­name, and went on to win the U.S. Se­nate seat.

Bumpers’ sig­na­ture mo­ment on the na­tional stage came in 1999, just­weeks af­ter leav­ing the Se­nate, when he de­fend­edClin­ton— who had worked for Ful­bright’s 1974 cam­paign against Bumpers— be­fore the U.S. Se­nate dur­ing Clin­ton’s im­peach­ment trial.

Clin­ton had been im­peached by the House on charges of ly­ing about his sex­ual re­la­tion­ship with Monica Lewin­sky­while tes­ti­fy­ing be­fore a grand jury in the Paula Jones sex­ual ha­rass­ment case.

Bumpers called the mat­ter a sex scan­dal while de­liv­er­ing the clos­ing ar­gu­ment as the Se­nate con­sid­ered re­mov­ing Clin­ton from of­fice.

Clin­ton “suf­fered a ter­ri­ble moral lapse, a mar­i­tal in­fi­delity. Not a breach of the pub­lic trust, not a crime against so­ci­ety,” Bumpers said. “H.L Mencken said one time, ‘When you hear some­body say, ‘This is not about the money,’ it’s about the money. ... And­when you hear some­body say, ‘This is not about sex,’ it’s about sex.”

Clin­ton was ac­quit­ted by the Se­nate.

Bumpers would later say that he didn’t want to give the clos­ing state­ment, but Se­nate lead­ers and Clin­ton called to ask him to do so.

As­tate­ment fromClin­ton and Hil­lary Clin­ton did not men­tion the im­peach­ment, but praised Bumpers’ work as gov­er­nor and se­na­tor.

Bumpers was an at­tor­ney for the Charleston School Board in 1954 when the board voted to in­te­grate, just two months af­ter the U.S. Supreme Court’s land­mark Brown vs. Board of Ed­u­ca­tion rul­ing that out­lawed seg­re­gated schools.

“We did it be­cause we thought it was the right thing to do,” Bumpers told The As­so­ci­ated Press in a 2007 in­ter­view.

Bumpers is sur­vived by his wife, Betty, and by two sons and a daugh­ter. Fu­neral ser­vices are pend­ing.

Dale Bumpers, shown in March 2007, died Fri­day in Lit­tle Rock, Ark., at age 90. He was a for­mer Arkansas gov­er­nor and U.S. se­na­tor.

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