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 TIME on politics Congressional Quarterly CNN/AllPolitics CNN/AllPolitics - Storypage, with TIME and Congressional Quarterly

Transcript: Questioning of Representative Charles Canady (R-FL)

House Judiciary Committee hearing, December 8, 1998

SENSENBRENNER: The gentleman from Florida, Mr. Canady.

CANADY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I want to thank the members of the panel for being here today. I will candidly state that with the exception of Professor Ackerman's argument concerning the procedural status of a resolution of impeachment passed by this House, I didn't find any new arguments advanced with respect to the grounds for impeachment or the proper circumstances for impeachment.

But I appreciate your being here, and I want to say something about that issue. But before I do that, I want to also thank Mr. Craig for indicating that we will soon be receiving an exhaustive defense in writing of the president's conduct that's set forth in the record.

CANADY: And I'm not going to dwell on that. But I do want to ask one question, which just stands out to me, of Mr. Craig.

Mr. Craig, in the president's deposition last January, he was asked this question. "At any time were you and Monica Lewinsky alone together in the Oval Office?"

He answered, "I don't recall." He gave kind of an extended discussion there about working on the weekends, in which he indicated, "It seems to me she brought things to me once or twice on the weekends."

There was then a follow-up question: "So I understand your testimony is that it was possible then that you were alone with her, but that you have no specific recollection of that ever happening." Answer from the president: "Yes, that's correct."

Now Mr. Craig, is it your position here today, on behalf of the president, that when the president gave those answers in the deposition, he was telling the truth?

CRAIG: That's correct, Congressman. He answered the question that it was possible that he was alone with her. This is in the civil deposition. So all the descriptions that I gave to that civil deposition is accurate.

It was evasive. It was misleading. He tried to be narrowly accurate.

But Congressman, he did not violate his oath.

CANADY: Well, Mr. Craig, let me just say this. I read it. It's here in writing.

I believe this is an accurate transcription of what took place. This is in the public domain. And it seems to me that the president unequivocally denied that he had any specific recollection of being alone with Miss Lewinsky.

And for you to contend today that that's truthful, I think, is not credible. And that's just an observation. And there are other questions about other parts of the record that I am sure we will focus on as we move forward with this.

But I must candidly state that I don't see how anyone in this country could believe that that was a truthful answer in light of all of the evidence that is before us. Let me address the issue about the standards for impeachment.

And I think it's important that all of us acknowledge that not all criminal acts are impeachable. No one here contends that. We also understand that impeachment should not be for trivial matters.

Impeachment, we all understand, is a grave step to take. And, yes, I believe -- and I believe most of the members of the committee understand -- that we need more than probable cause to move forward with an impeachment. We need convincing evidence.

But I believe that on the record before us we have convincing evidence of a pattern of lying under oath and obstruction of justice. I can't detail that here, but I believe that's in the record. And we will discuss that.

And I think we need to look at the effect of such conduct on the system of government. I refer back to the report of the committee in the Nixon inquiry. It said, "The emphasis has been on the significant effects of the conduct undermining the integrity of office, disregard of constitutional duties and oath of office, arrogation of power, abuse of governmental process, adverse impact on the system of government."

I believe that there is a convincing case here of such an adverse impact. Let me quote, finally, Chief Justice Jay, who delivered the following charge to a grand jury.

He said, "Independent of the abominable insult which perjury offers to the divine being, there is no crime more extensively pernicious to society. It discolors and poisons the streams of justice and, by substituting falsehood for truth, saps the foundations of personal and public rights."

He goes on to say...

SENSENBRENNER: The gentleman's time has expired.

CANADY: Thank you.

Investigating the President


Tuesday, December 8, 1998

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