Star performers in the 'trial of the century'

The Defence

Charles Ruff – the man who wrapped up the case

The man charged with wrapping up the defence case was Charles Ruff, disparagingly referred to by some as the man who cleans up the President's mess.

Delivering his compelling defence from a wheelchair, he made a mockery of House Judiciary chairman Henry Hyde's references to the ghosts of Normandy as witnesses to the sanctity of the “rule of law”.

Ruff, who has been the White House Counsel since 1997, went much further than either Kendall or Craig in addressing the specific charges against the President.

He was also first to embrace the legalisms and flowery interpretation of words such as “sex” and “is”, for which Clinton has been widely criticised.

Ruff said such arguments were “not just dreamed up by scheming lawyers” but represented vital protections built into the legal system.

Ruff, 59 and a former Watergate prosecutor, took every opportunity to belittle independent prosecutor Kenneth Starr, and his case.

Lanny Davis, who worked with Ruff at the White House, refers to his “cordial toughness”; the way Ruff “consistently defangs his adversaries”.

Nicole Seligman – a real-life Ally McBeal

Nicole Seligman is known as “The Velvet Hammer” by her colleagues at Washington firm Williams & Connolly, because her petite exterior masks a killer instinct.

Introduced by the US media as the real-life answer to Ally McBeal, her take-no-prisoners style was proof enough that she is more than a match for her TV lookalike.

“She might appear kind and gentle, but she can be a warrior,” says fellow partner Kevin Baine.

A Harvard Law School honours graduate and former editor of the Asian Wall Street Journal, Seligman, 49, has won the confidence of people of all political persuasions.

She is noted for her razor-sharp mind and determination to be the best, and is a favourite of Oliver North, who she helped defend on charges of selling arms to Nicaraguan rebels during the Reagan presidency.

David Kendall – Hillary Clinton's favourite

David Kendall, Seligman's reed-thin senior at Williams & Connolly, and a favourite of Hillary Clinton, gave a methodical and, at times, turgid performance.

At one stage during a court session in the impeachment trial, the bookish Kendall, 54, could be spotted working on a crossword puzzle, in ink, with a back-up puzzle in his briefing folder.

An old friend and Yale Law School classmate of Clinton and his wife, Kendall has represented the President through a variety of legal controversies, including Whitewater. “The public perception of David is that of the aggressive, no holds barred fighter,” says Baine. “But, in person, he is soft-spoken and self-effacing.”

Kendall is a devout Quaker and father of three. The former Rhodes Scholar was arrested repeatedly while participating in the civil rights battles of the 1960s.

Cheryl Mills – the legal star of the trial

Although Cheryl Mills had little courtroom experience, she dealt the House Judiciary's impeachment managers a powerful blow. Spiked with sarcasm and delivered with charm, her daring and, at times, condescending, defence was masterful.

Mills, 33, is a hard-nosed champion of the President. She gave an emotional account of how moved she was that Clinton had entrusted a role to her, a black woman, and went on to deal expertly with the “stubborn, stubborn facts”. When she returned to her White House office she found it packed with flowers from well-wishers.


Henry Hyde – the leading light of the prosecution

The man leading the charge in this criminal-political hybrid of a trial is Henry Hyde, the chairman of the judiciary committee.

His name rarely crops up on Capitol Hill without the accompanying tag “widely respected”. But by the time court proceedings began, his own extra marital affair had been revealed in the press, and his patience was wearing thin over the Senate's reluctance to allow a full-blown trial with all the witnesses he wanted.

A member of the Illinois bar, Hyde served on the Iran-Contra investigating committee. His skill, say admirers, lies in his ability to disagree without being disagreeable. Political pundit Cokie Roberts once described him as “one of the smartest men who ever walked”.

Using high-blown lang-uage, he made references to the beaches of Normandy, civil war battles and oaths taken by Thomas Moore. Many observers thought it was over the top.

Bob Barr – the man targeted by Larry Flynt

Bob Barr – who called for Clinton's impeachment before Monica Lewinsky was even heard of – ran into personal difficulties during the trial when Larry Flynt, editor of the pornographic magazine Hustler, accused him of hypocrisy over an alleged extra-marital affair and the testimony he gave in his divorce case.

Barr also made a howler when he angered senators by suggesting the case needed to be simplified because members of the upper house did not have the attention span of the average juror.

Asa Hutchinson – Clinton's old adversary

Asa Hutchinson is a slick former US attorney from Arkansas.

He is an old adversary of Clinton's from their days back home when he prosecuted the then governor's brother, Roger, for cocaine dealing.

“Not all attorneys are trial attorneys, but he is one of those attorneys who is able to think on his feet,” says Ron Fields, an Arkansas attorney who worked with Hutchinson.

He questioned Vernon Jordan, the wealthy, high-powered lawyer and Clinton confidant who helped Lewinsky to get a job and was at the heart of the obstruction of justice allegations.

Their duel was one of the high points of the trial. “Hutchinson, I'm a lawyer and I'm a loyal friend, but I'm not a fool,” said Jordan as he admonished his inquisitor for suggesting he told Lewinsky to destroy evidence.

Lindsey Graham – the Desert Storm veteran

A Desert Storm veteran who had a distinguished legal career in the US Air Force before establishing his own private law practice in South Carolina, Lindsey Graham argued his case in a down-to-earth, homespun fashion, peppering his arguments with jokes.

“When Lindsey speaks, he's a hard guy to dislike,” says Dave Woodard, who managed Graham's first congressional campaign.

“When he explains his position, even the most ardent Democrats don't feel ill will toward him. He has that quality of disarming his opponents,” says Woodard.

James Rogan – the aide interrogator

James Rogan, 40, was once the youngest sitting judge in California and, before that, specialised in the prosecution of gang murderers.

The testimony he elected from White House aide Sidney Blumenthal, about Clinton's early claims, that Lewinsky was a stalker, was among the most interesting of the trial.

Ed Bryant – the soft-spoken Tennessean

The cross-examination of the star witness was left to Ed Bryant – a Tennessean with a reputation for being cool-headed.

It will be his voice – asking the questions – that will be heard for decades to come on the videotape of Lewinsky's account of her relationship with the President.

The former army lawyer was selected for his soft-spoken, low-key manner.

Lewinsky was easily his match, however. He sounded nervous at first, stammering like a schoolboy. She was calm and polished.

Nothing new of substance was gleaned, and perhaps Bryant, more than any other lawyer, will always wonder if he could have done better.