Lott: Clinton's Behavior 'Disgusting' But He'll Withhold Judgment
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Aug. 31) -- Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott said Monday people are upset about President Bill Clinton's admission about Monica Lewinsky and raised the question, "Can he lead -- can he provide leadership without the necessary respect and with the problems that he has?"
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott
At a news conference to discuss the upcoming five week session of Congress, Lott said the Lewinsky disclosures had cost the president credibility.
"That's what really matters. Will he, can he provide leadership at a very critical time internationally and domestically? And I guess only time will answer that question," said Lott.
He said at meetings with voters he attended during the summer recess the Lewinsky scandal "was the first question they asked ... a lot of people are offended that the president looked them in the face and said 'I did not do this,' and he did. It is very much on people's minds. How could it help but be ... there is a nervousness there I had not seen before."
While deploring the president's conduct, Lott said he did not believe another address to the nation would be helpful and he would wait until Independent Counsel Ken Starr's report before deciding on what action might be necessary.
"The president's current situation does require comment, I believe, because it does cast a shadow upon our work here and on our ability to work together. So I'll say only this about this particular matter: As a husband and a father, I am offended by the president's behavior and by the tragic example that he has set for the young people of this country," said Lott.
"There is a moral dimension to the American presidency. And today that dimension, that power has been lost in scandal and in deception. As a citizen, I'm disappointed in the way the highest office in the nation has been reduced in stature and diminished in credibility.
"As a senator, though, I must be guided by what I believe to be in the best interest of our country. Apologies are a matter between the president and those he has wronged. Forgiveness is a matter between the president and his God.
"My duty, on the other hand, as a senator, in accord with the Constitution and the independent counsel law, is to withhold judgment on certain critical questions until the House of Representatives has received Judge Starr's report, reviews their findings and decides whether or not to act upon them," Lott said.
Pressed on whether he thought Clinton should resign, Lott said, "I've said what I think about the circumstances. I think they are, you know, disgusting. I'm very disappointed by the whole matter that has been coming forward -- the fact that apparently these acts did occur in the White House and that he, well, in effect lied about it to the American people.
"But I'm not going to go beyond that now, because I don't know all that's in the report that I presume will be coming to the Congress. I don't know if it will rise to levels that could justify proceeding in the House on impeachment or anything else," he said.
"So I'm going to wait for that report and withhold judgment or further comment until I see it," Lott said.