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

Transcript: Questioning of first panel by Rep. John Conyers

House Judiciary Committee hearing, December 8, 1998

SENSENBRENNER: The gentleman from Michigan, Mr. Conyers.

CONYERS: Well, let me begin by reminding my acting chairman that it wouldn't have affected whether this would have been an independent counsel appointed at all.

One of the -- well, let me put all three of these together, Mr. Craig. Mr. Starr alleged that the president lied about sexual relations before the Paula Jones deposition and in the grand jury. He -- it is also alleged that the president obstructed justice by assisting Miss Lewinsky with a job search, and that he further obstructed justice in conversations with Betty Currie after his January 17 deposition.

Could you put those in context for us, please?

CRAIG: Let me talk, first, about the president's testimony in the civil deposition.

He denied, in the civil deposition -- in accordance with the definition that he had been provided as to what a sexual relationship was -- he denied having a sexual relationship as defined in the deposition and by the Jones judge.

There may be disagreement as to whether his testimony fell within or without that definition. But there is no disagreement that the president himself, and in fact Monica Lewinsky, as she wrote her affidavit and testified in the grand jury, believed that what he was testifying was within the definition, as given to him, in front of the court.

The point I am trying to make here is that there was an effort by the president to testify accurately but not to disclose information about his relationship. That may be blameworthy, it may be wrong. You m conversation with the president, was not a witness in any proceeding. Her name had not appeared on the Jones witness list. She had not been named as a witness in the Jones case, and the discovery period was down to its very final days. There was no reason to suspect that she would play any role in the Jones case as a witness. And the president did not know that the OIC at that point had embarked on an investigation of him.

To obstruct a proceeding or to tamper with a witness, Mr. Conyers, there must be both a proceeding and a witness. Here, as far as the president knew, there was neither.

And there is a second important point that is also deleted or left out or ignored in the presentation of the referral. Mr. -- Ms. Currie testified about this conversation with the president on numerous occasions, and repeatedly testified that she felt absolutely no pressure to agree with the questions that the president asked her.

Let me just cite one excerpt from the transcript of Ms. Currie's testimony. I'll be...

SENSENBRENNER: The gentleman's time has expired. You know, somebody else can bring that up, if we are to keep on time.

CRAIG: Yes, sir.

SENSENBRENNER: Mr. Chairman, might he finish the sentence? Could he finish the sentence?

CRAIG: It's very quick, Mr. Sensenbrenner. She was asked, "Did you feel pressure when he told you those statements?" She said, "None whatsoever." She was asked, "Did you feel any pressure to agree with your boss?" She said "None."


CONYERS: Thank you very much, Mr. Craig.

Investigating the President


Tuesday, December 8, 1998

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