Could GOP call Lewinsky to testify?

Could GOP call Lewinsky to testify?

Monica Lewinsky's attempt to transform herself into an advocate against cyber bullying has given Republicans a tantalizing opportunity to call her to the witness stand.

Lewinsky has never testified to Congress, despite her role in the impeachment of President Clinton in the 1990s. She appeared only before a federal grand jury in return for immunity.

Now, with legislation on cyber bullying percolating in both the House and Senate, Republicans could ask Lewinsky to tell her story on Capitol Hill.

"The prospect of Monica Lewinsky testifying before Congress about cyber bullying would force a national debate," said a GOP aide who asked not to be named in order to speak more freely. "She's in a unique position to educate the American public." 

ADVERTISEMENT

While testimony to Congress would give Lewinsky a big platform, it would also have 2016 overtones by reopening the book on the sex scandal at a time when Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump takes aim at media after 'hereby' ordering US businesses out of China Trump knocks news of CNN hiring ex-FBI official McCabe Taylor Swift says Trump is 'gaslighting the American public' MORE is weighing a White House run.

Another senior House Republican aide said having Lewinsky testify could be risky.

"You have to wonder what it would be for Hillary going into 2016," the aide said. "After seeing how she's gone largely unscathed in the Benghazi scandal, I have a sinking feeling [testimony from Lewinsky] would only serve to make her look like a loyal wife who stuck by her husband during a tremendously difficult time."

Lewinsky has spoken out against cyber bullying, most recently during a speech in Philadelphia and in a column for Vanity Fair that was published in May. 

In both cases, Lewinsky cited Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers University student who took his life in 2010 after he was outed online as gay. 

Democratic lawmakers responded to Clementi’s death by introducing legislation in his name. First championed by the late-Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care: Planned Parenthood to leave federal family planning program absent court action | Democrats demand Trump withdraw rule on transgender health | Cummings, Sanders investigate three drug companies for 'obstructing' probe Democrats demand Trump officials withdraw rule on transgender health The Hill's Morning Report - Progressives, centrists clash in lively Democratic debate MORE (D-Wash.) and Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) have since reintroduced the bill in the Senate and House.

The bill would require all universities and colleges with federal funding to put in place polices against harassing people online.

Lewinsky's attempt to enter the dialogue about bullying has drawn mixed reviews, with at least one anti-bullying group saying her involvement would “set back” their efforts.

Both Murray and Holt declined comment on how Lewinsky’s support of The Tyler Clementi Foundation could impact their legislation. Lewinsky also did not respond to a request for comment. 

Republicans have opposed the bill, as have civil liberties groups, such the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). They argue that the legislation would limit free speech on campuses because of how the law defines "harassment."

If Republicans win control of the Senate, Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderThe Hill's Morning Report - How will Trump be received in Dayton and El Paso? McConnell faces pressure to bring Senate back for gun legislation Criminal justice reform should extend to student financial aid MORE (R-Tenn.) would likely become the chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee, which has jurisdiction of the proposed cyber bullying bill.

A spokesman for Alexander declined to comment on matters relating to his potential chairmanship.

A spokesman for Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.), chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, also did not respond to a request for comment on Lewinsky. His committee would likely have the jurisdiction over a House bill. 

Lawmakers would have to reintroduce the bullying bill during the next Congress.