On September 16, 1998, my brother Josef (Joe) Hein returned from a twelve-day trip to Bosnia, where he had served as a supervisor for the State Department election observation team. In fact, his interest in mediation and peace conflict resolution led him to Bosnia three times between 1997 and 1998 during the elections which were called for by the Dayton Peace Agreement.
At the time, he also served as an aide on Capitol Hill to Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), whom he worked for between 1996 and 2000. Joe believed in the platform of the Democratic party, and was a strong advocate for President Bill Clinton. One of my earliest memories with Joe is going to a rally for President Clinton, where I helped pass out stickers.
Yet it was on this trip in September 1998 that the unfolding story of President Clinton’s abuses of power escalated. The Starr Report, prepared by Independent Counsel Ken Starr for the House Judiciary Committee, was relased. While Clinton had previously denied many of the accusations from both Paula Jones and Monica Lewinsky, the Starr Report argued that there were eleven possible grounds for impeachment of Clinton.
For whatever reason (I wish I could ask him now), these new events led my brother to write a letter to President Clinton just two days after he returned from Bosnia. I did not know this letter existed until August of 2021, just a few months after my father passed. As it turned out, my father had kept a number of my brother’s possessions and records which I did not know existed until then – including this letter.
This letter deserves to be made available as a testament to my brother’s honesty, passion, and love. More than that, this letter serves an example of a young politician willing to hold the sitting president of his own party accountable. Such a witness is rare today. It makes me miss my brother all the more for the impact he could have had.
My brother chose to speak truth to power, and he did so from the position of his faith. In this published version, I have added my own voice to my brother’s, both as an editor as well as a co-author. Most of what you read – over 90% – is still my brother’s own words. As I have meditated on this letter, I have grown in what it means in caring for others as they agonize over the weight of their sin. My brother’s heart is on full display here, even as he called President Clinton to account for his injustice and abuse.
I do not know if the letter was ever read or answered.
I hope this letter is instructive and encouraging for you, just as it was for me.
Although I believe this message has true importance, I want you to know as you read this that I write these words in full humility before you. I have no idea what you have gone through in this last year. In fact, I have never even met or spoken to you in my life. I do not know you and you do not know me. However, I believe we are both children of God., and that is enough for me. Because of this sacred truth, I feel an obligation to share with you what has been on my heart. It is only when I returned from Bosnia two nights ago that this obligation so strong I could not resist following it.
I have just returnned from a trip to Bosnia, where I served with the State Department election observation team. Every day of the twelve days I was in Bosnia, I thought about your suffering and your abuses; your choices, your words and your actions. As one created in God’s image – like you – I am unable to merely sit here and watch your personal downfall without trying to help. My words have nothing to do with your views, your beliefs, or even our common political party. I believe in my heart that we must help all others in this world, especially those who are suffering the most. You are suffering greatly, and if we are to be good Samaritans as Jesus said then we all must try to help end the suffering in any way we can. I care much more about you as a person than as a president. ‘President’ is just a title; it is merely your occupation. It is not your highest identity. Your highest identity is as a child of God. As such, you are held in the highest regard by God.
I have great faith in you as I have great faith in all, but there is always a reckoning for our sins. We are all sinners. But the good news is we can all be redeemed! No one is any better or worse in God’s eyes, but we all must turn to Christ and follow His Truth. This is the message I feel burdened to deliver to you today.
There is nothing more important in this world than loving God and pursuing His Truth. Loving those who love you, even loving those who hate you, is equal to this – but not greater. Jesus called these the greatest of the commandments. Regardless of how we attempt to shape and mold it, God’s Truth is the Truth. The strange thing is, we all know this simple message to be true, but each one of us deny it most of the time throughout most of our lives.
Your calling as President is a great purpose. Indeed – you have helped millions! Your leadership in helping stop the war in Bosnia saved thousands of lives. Your leadership in preventing a war in Haiti by sending Jimmy Carter saved thousands of lives. Your leadership in sending Kofi Annan to Iraq saved thousands of lives. Your diligent work on race relations and America’s denial of slavery has changed thousands of lives. These are just a few of the things you have done. You have exhibited true moral leadership.
And you still can.
You are the same man that you were before. You can be a true moral leader. Please don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise, for you are a child of God. When we doubt ourselves, we doubt God. Let us never doubt the power of God. There is nothing God cannot do. Nothing.
While becoming President was a great thing in and of itself, perhaps it was not your highest calling? Your purpose on this Earth, the reason you were born to your mother and father, may have been to struggle in these darkest hours of your life. Could your highest calling be to purse God and his Truth? To lead our country in Truth by confessing all of your sins and abuses publicly and honestly? To do the right thing and give justice to Monica, to your family, to our country?
Perhaps this is your greatest example to the world. Your example can be one of Truth or one of continued deception of the American people, your family, yourself, and your God.
Your example to the watching world can be that in his darkest hour, when he saw the world crumbling before him, a President named Bill Clinton in the year 1998 decided to follow the Truth and live it. Bill Clinton, against the advice of all those closest to him, decided to give the Truth a try and be completely and totally honest with the nation, the world, himself, and his God. Bill Clinton, the leader of this great country, gave up his power in order to give justice to his country and those whom he abused.
This would mean no half-truths, no lies of omission, no twisting of any words or past actions, no parsing of semantics, nothing but the Truth, the whole Truth. This is the choice you have before you today. It is the only choice that matters anymore. Choosing God’s Truth will do more good for this world than any program you have ever conceived, any progress you have made, any assistance you have given to any other human, any war you have ever stopped or prevented.
Mother Teresa once said,
“God does not demand that I be successful. God demands that I be faithful. When facing God, results are not important. Faithfulness is what is important.”
Today you are facing God. Today you have a personal meeting with His Truth. God demands that you be faithful. You must follow His Truth; not what you believe will make you successful or bring about the results you want. This is no time to plan, strategize, calculate, plot, or weigh costs and benefits. You have a moral obligation to be faithful and tell the truth. It will not be easy. It will make you cry. It will make you feel weak, afraid, and twisted inside. It may even feel like your heart is being ripped out of your body and your soul tossed to the wolves. But in the end the Truth will set you free. It will make you whole. It will mend not only your own heart and your life, but also the heart of this great country you serve.
God is beyond anything we can imagine and God will always be there for us no matter what we do. If you open your Bible and read the story of Job again, I believe you will see the point of this all. God gives life to us. God gives us everything we have and more. Yet on account of our fallen human nature, we lie, cheat, abuse, deceive, and fabricate. But God is there with you when you sit in agony each night before you go to sleep. God is always waiting for us to choose the Truth and confess our sins. He promises to forgive and set us free.
When you sit down on your bed at night and cry, God is there. When you are filled with regret, sadness, and the sickening feeling that goes deep down into your being, God is with you. Love is sitting next to you. However, He demands that we make the choice to follow Him rather than ourselves. We must confess our sins and give ourselves into His hands. This is repentance.
Jesus of Nazareth once said,
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. 10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. 14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:3-16)
Proof of thirst for righteouness comes from pursuing God’s Truth by being honest in word and deed. And God’s Truth is found in Christ. You can do this. There is time. Do not doubt yourself or your God. But if you have to choose one or the other, doubt yourself and trust God. There is nothing more important in the world. If you trust Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, you will be forgiven and set free.
When I was in Bosnia, I noticed you had appointed spiritual advisors. No advisor will now make this decision for you. The only real spiritual advisor you have is the voice of God you hear each day inside you. His eternal Truth is always right. As Dr. King said,
“Jesus is eternally right. History is replete with the bleached bones of nations that refused to listen to him.”
Will you choose now to turn to Christ, who is on the side of eternal righteousness and justice? Or will you choose to lead our country, by your example, down a road of destruction?
The purpose of all worthwhile religion is Love and Truth, for Love and Truth come from God. If the purpose of our religion was not such, it would be of no use to us. Wherever your faith may lie today, summon it and let it build strength inside you. You must find the strength through God and His Truth to be honest with this country and the rest of the world. You cannot continue traveling the nation and the world hoping that everything will go away like so many other things from your past may have.
The choice is before you – indeed, the obligation – and you must come before the people and be completely and totally honest. Confess your sins and admit the truth on national television and agree to answer any question anyone has as long as they continue asking questions. Sit in a chair, alone in front of the world, just as Jesus did on his cross 2000 years ago and suffer. Do not continue putting your suffering on Monica, your family, or this country. Answer any question as truthfully as you can from any person in this nation for as long as you can stay awake. Then come back the next day and answer more and be truthful again until all of the questions are done. Confess your abuse of power to Monica, to your family, to this country. Confess the ways in which you denied Monica’s personhood and used her for your own twisted desire. Confess the ways in which your sins have deeply wounded your family. Acknowledge the now-broken trust we the people have in you. Vow to do whatever is right by the Truth of Christ to pursue justice and right what you have wronged.
And after this, see a trained professional, a counselor, a psychiatrist and work through all the dark places in your heart. Some would say it would be a national disgrace for a sitting president to go to a psychiatrist, but they are wrong. Some would say you would immediately lose the Presidency, but they are wrong. It is always an honorable thing for a sick man to admit to himself he has problems and to look to the world and say, “I need help and I am going to get it.”
If anyone has to carry the cross, let it be us. If anyone needs to suffer let us suffer ourselves so no one else has to. I do not want to see you suffer one single moment longer, but I know that only through accepting suffering for your actions, asking God’s Truth to enter your heart, and being completely open to the world will your suffering end. There is nothing else in the world that will end it.
In his darkest hour, a man truly decides if he trusts God and Truth. This is your darkest hour. You have two options, to continue lying at all costs in an attempt to save your presidency, or to tell the truth and save your soul.
In a 1914 tribute to Gandhi, Professor Gilbert Murray at Oxford wrote,
“Be careful in dealing with a man who cares nothing for sensual pleasures, nothing for comfort or praise or promotion, but is simply determined to do what he believes to be right. He is a dangerous and uncomfortable enemy because his body which you can always conquer gives you so little purpose over his soul.”
We all have a calling to follow this as Gandhi did. He was no greater a man than you or I or anyone else. He simply made it his point in life do what he believed to be right. This is your highest service to God. I know it will be no easy task for you to become truthful. If it was easy you would have already done it, for you are stronger than most. But if it was easy, it wouldn’t be worth much. Nothing worth having comes easy.
So in the end, the choice is a beautiful one. You can choose to follow God through faith and repentance, or you can continue following your ego, your intellect, and the darkness in your heart. I will pray each moment that you will choose to turn to God, who alone can lead you in the way of love, truth, and justice. But prayer and reading Scriptures, whether on your own or in the presence of others will do no good unless we have the Faith in God to go inside our souls and embrace His Truth.
You may recall the story of the chief tax collector named Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10). Here was a man who greatly abused his power, placing unjust taxes on the people in order to grow his own wealth. Yet when Jesus saw Zacchaeus, his heart went out to him. Everyone else avoided Zacchaeus at all costs. Not Jesus. Jesus invited himself into Zacchaeus’ home, and it was there that the beauty of God’s Truth in Christ overwhelemed him. It was there where he repented of his sin and abuse of power. Zacchaeus experienced the truth we read in the words of St. Paul,
“God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
This repentance was freeing, but it did not come without a personal cost. Zacchaeus soon learned that on the other side of repentance, there was a moral obligation for him to right what he had wrong; to give justice where he had created injustice. In fact, he restored fourfold of what he had taken from those he defrauded.
Forgiveness is likewise available to you. But it will not come without consequence for you; for as soon as you find that you are freed, much will be required of you. Justice and righteousness are required of all those who turn to Christ in repentance and faith.
Jesus tells us that we have an obligation to help those who are suffering, whether it be physical, emotional, or spirirtual suffering. I believe you are suffering greatly, and want you to know I am here for you at all times. I am just one person; a weak one at that. But through God and His Truth I believe that one human can change the world. And I know you believe this to be true. Your life is a testimony to this belief. Your road to the presidency is a testimony to this belief.
Don’t give up yet. You can still do the right thing. Dr. King said,
“Only when it is dark enough, can you see the stars.”
It is dark, but it is not so dark that you are blind. And if you are blind, God will carry you. As the psalmist said,
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4)
You may be in darkness; it may be so dark that you feel close to death. But even when you cannot see through the darkness, God has promised to be with you. Christ is with you. He will never leave us nor forsake us. God is the star that you must follow tonight. You have a choice before you greater than any other that you have ever had in your life before.
Trust yourself to your God.