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Transcript provided by FDCH

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

Transcript: Hyde's opening statement and committee debate

House Judiciary Committee hearing, December 9, 1998

HENRY HYDE: The committee will come to order.

Today we will hear from the fourth panel of witnesses. Panel witnesses will each have 10 minutes to make a statement. After the testimony of the witnesses, members will be allowed to ask questions for five minutes.

I ask that the members please pay attention to their time and be aware that their questions should be asked and answered within their five minutes. The reason for that is it takes over three hours to cover the members under the five-minute rule.

And so to make this meaningful, and -- we have to watch our time. Now immediately following this panel, the committee will receive the testimony of White House Counsel Charles Ruff.

After his presentation, members will question Mr. Ruff under the five-minute rule.

After the members have questioned, the committee counsel may question Mr. Ruff.

Thursday morning -- tomorrow morning -- we will have a presentation by Minority Chief Investigative Counsel Abbe Lowell at 9 a.m. and a presentation by Chief Investigative Counsel David Schippers at 1 p.m.

Immediately following Mr. Schippers, we will begin consideration of a resolution containing articles of impeachment for our deliberation. We will hear opening statements from all members Thursday evening.

Friday, we will begin consideration and debate of articles of impeachment. I want to, by way of informing the minority and the majority, these matters all still under discussion, works in progress, but I am -- at this point, my thinking is to provide a 10-minute allocation for every member to make an...

SCOTT: Sorry, I couldn't hear you, Mr. Chairman.

HYDE: OK. My present thinking is to allow 10 minutes for each member to make an opening statement so that you can prepare for that. I think 10 minutes is adequate in balance.

I also know that you would like copies of any articles of impeachment that we may have. Let me just suggest to you -- they are still works in progress. We think it improper -- improvident -- to issue any documents until we have heard the testimony.

And changes are occurring as we speak. But as soon as we have a document that we feel fairly is a working draft that -- that we can stand behind, we will get it to you.

SCOTT: Will the gentleman yield?

HYDE: I certainly will yield.

SCOTT: As you know, we -- Mr. Conyers and I wrote a letter asking for the specific articles to be available at least 48 hours before we had to take action on them.

It seemed to me that, if we are going to consider the factual basis and go through the record to determine what the facts are and to propose amendments and to determine whether or not with specificity they actually constitute impeachable offenses, that we would need some period of time.

And 48 hours before we start having to deal with them I think is a minimum amount of time.

SCOTT: Will we have 48 hours before we have to...

HYDE: The actual amendment process would not begin until Friday morning. And we'll try to get you something early afternoon today. But they're still being drafted and I'm unwilling to provide working papers and nothing more.

We will give you a workable draft, fairly solid in terms of what we -- the final product -- early afternoon today. And you won't need the amending process until Friday morning.

JACKSON LEE: Will the gentleman yield?

HYDE: Yes.

JACKSON LEE: I think you answered the question. If there were a desire to amend or to add to or to distract from -- detract from this process of working together on these is an open process?

HYDE: You mean, you want to help us draft articles of impeachment?

JACKSON LEE: I mean the spirit of bipartisanship, I want to know if the opportunity is open?

HYDE: Oh, indeed. The amendatory process will permit you draft them any way you would like and we will give it full consideration.

JACKSON LEE: Or undraft them?

HYDE: Oh, yes, undraft.

JACKSON LEE: And the final question, Mr. Chairman, is as you well know, the votes will probably come very late in the day or possibly Saturday. Would we have an opportunity for an explanation of our votes before we would vote?

HYDE: Well, I originally thought five-minute opening statement and then five minutes at the end of the final vote, but I'm persuaded by one of your members that a 10-minute opening statement is probably the procedure of choice.

So we will all have plenty of opportunity to talk and a 10-minute opening statement I hope will suffice. And then at the end we can vote and get -- as the phrase goes -- get this behind us.

JACKSON LEE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

FRANK: Will the gentleman yield? Mr. Chairman, I -- would the gentleman yield?

Mr. Chair, I think you've done an adequate amount of time. My guess is that by the end, the opportunity we will have to explain ourselves will substantially outpace the interest anyone has in hearing our explanation.

HYDE: I want to associate myself with the sentiments of the gentleman from Massachusetts.

SENSENBRENNER: Gentleman yield?

HYDE: Yes.

SENSENBRENNER: Also in the spirit of bipartisanship, can we get a commitment on the Democratic side that the majority will have copies of amendments in advance so that we can prepare arguments and also any resolution of censure that the Democrats may offer.

FRANK: Mr. Chairman.

HYDE: Well, just a second. First of all, they have to have the document so they can know how to amend it or...

SENSENBRENNER: I'm aware of that.

HYDE: ... amendments. So that would come first. Then I'm sure they would give us their proposed amendments in adequate time for us to study them. The gentleman...

FRANK: Well, two things. First, I think obviously there's this major resolution that could be done. But I would have to say -- and while it may be possible to do some of the amendments -- as the gentleman from Wisconsin knows because he's an able legislator -- sometimes you do decide during the process because of the ebb and flow of the argument that you might want to offer an amendment. So I think that's an undertaking I think you can try, but I would never be able to commit...

SENSENBRENNER: Will the gentleman yield?

FRANK: Yes, I...

SENSENBRENNER: How about a censure resolution?

Can we get a copy of that just like you're asking for a copy of our proposed articles?

FRANK: I'll trade you a copy of it for a vote on it on the floor.

SENSENBRENNER: Well, I think -- if the gentleman will yield further -- you know, I think that, you know, we have been dealing in good faith and saying that we would give you copies of the proposed articles in advance.

I would hope that the gentleman from Massachusetts would seriously consider reciprocating with any proposed censure resolution that the Democrats propose.

FRANK: Let me say, first of all, I'm speaking of course in the absence of the ranking minority member. But -- yes, if there's a censure resolution ready, I'm sure people will be...

HYDE: I have no doubt that we will have mutual exchanges of documents.

HYDE: Mr. Rothman.

ROTHMAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'm concerned about the response from Judge Starr to the questions raised by...

MEEHAN: We've written him a letter...

ROTHMAN: If I may just finish...

MEEHAN: I'm sorry. I'm just trying to anticipate your question.

ROTHMAN: I saw yesterday, it was distributed, a copy of a letter under your signature and Mr. Conyers' signature asking Judge Starr to answer the questions that had been previously forwarded by the Democratic minority and others. And you had indicated that you had hoped that he would have them by the end of the week.

First of all, I very, very sincerely appreciate the chair's efforts in getting these answers to these questions. I believe Judge Starr indicated during his testimony he would be happy to provide them. Then he wrote back and said, well, he wasn't sure if he would, subject to both parties agreeing. And now that the chair and the ranking member have put it in writing, I'm hopeful that the chair will able to get from Judge Starr these answers before we debate and before we vote.

DELAHUNT: Would the gentleman yield?

HYDE: Obviously, they are not much help if we've already had the debate and vote. So we will attempt to move that process along. I don't like to be giving deadlines to anybody. But...

ROTHMAN: Mr. Chairman, if I may just finish? I just want to again repeat my thanks to the chair for taking that action.

HYDE: Well, I appreciate that very much. Thank you.

MEEHAN: The independent counsel -- we could probably save time -- he doesn't have to prepare them, the answers. He can just leak them to the press, and we'll read them.

HYDE: Very good.

DELAHUNT: Mr. Chairman, to...

HYDE: Wait a minute. Are you going to comment on what Mr. Meehan said? Otherwise, you're not recognized for that purpose.

DELAHUNT: Well, speaking to what Mr. Meehan said, I would hope that the chair would entertain -- to address the concern of some members in terms of explanation for votes, and expanded time period for the filing of concurring or dissenting opinions.

HYDE: Well, if what you're saying means you want additional time beyond the 10 minutes for the opening statement....

DELAHUNT: No, I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about after the committee concludes its business.

HYDE: You have two days to file minority views.

DELAHUNT: Right. I would hope, however, that the chair would entertain waiving that particular rule.

HYDE: You don't want to go into the Christmas week, Bill, I don't think. We don't want to put you against the wall, but we have to move ahead. Really. Two days. I know you can collect your thoughts in two days and express them well.

DELAHUNT: I need more time, Mr. Chairman.

HYDE: Consult with Mr. Meehan.

DELAHUNT: I will consult with Mr. Meehan.


All right.

SCOTT: Mr. Chairman?

HYDE: Yes. Mr. Scott.

SCOTT: Are we going to have a business meeting sometime before the -- before -- I have a motion pending. I guess based on the explanation, it may not be relevant. But I'd like the opportunity to offer it whenever we can get around to it.

HYDE: All right. We do have some business to attend to. We're waiting to -- for the propitious time to do that. So at that point, we'll consider your motion, too.

SCOTT: Very well.

HYDE: Would the witnesses please stand and take the oath?

Thank you. Do you solemnly swear or affirm that the testimony you are about to give to the committee is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?


HYDE: Thank you. Let the record show the witnesses answered the question in the affirmative.

We have a distinguished panel today, as we have had all week. Thomas P. Sullivan is a senior partner at Jenner and Block (ph), and has practiced with that firm for the past 44 years. He's a former Unites States attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. Mr. Sullivan specializes in civil and criminal trial and appellate litigation, and he has served as an instructor at Loyola University School of Law and for the National Institute for Trial Advocacy.

HYDE: Richard Davis is a partner with the New York law firm of Weil, Gotschal and Manges. He clerked for the United States District Court Judge Jack B. Weinstein (ph) from 1969, 1970. He also served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York from 1970 through 1973, and was task force leader for the Watergate Special Prosecution Force, 1973-1975. From 1977 to 1981, he served as assistant secretary of the Treasury for enforcement and operations.

Edward S.G. Dennis, Jr., is a partner in the litigation section of the Philadelphia law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. He joined the firm after 15 years with the Department of Justice, during which he held the following positions: acting deputy attorney general, assistant attorney general for the Criminal Division, and U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. He is co-chairman of the Corporate Investigations and Criminal Defense Practice Group.

William F. Weld is a former two-term governor of Massachusetts, a graduate of the Harvard Law School. Governor Weld began his legal career as a counsel with the House Judiciary Committee during the Watergate impeachment inquiry. He then served as U.S. attorney and as head of the Criminal Division at main justice under President Reagan before being elected governor of Massachusetts in 1990.

Governor Weld is currently a partner in the Chicago law firm of McDermott, Will and Emery (ph), and he is also the author of the recently published comic political crime novel, "Macro by Moonight -- by Moonlight."

I hope it's not a violation of any rule or regulation to give a plug for the governor's book.


Ronald Noble is a associate professor of law at NYU Law School. He served as undersecretary of the treasury for enforcement 1994-1996, as deputy assistant attorney general and chief of staff in the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice 1988-1990, and as assistant United States attorney in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, 1984-1988.

Investigating the President


Wednesday, December 9, 1998

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