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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. Robert Scott

House Judiciary Committee hearing, December 8, 1998

SENSENBRENNER: The gentleman from Virginia, Mr. Scott.

SCOTT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, earlier this morning, I mentioned a motion that I'd like to introduce. The motion would have been -- had it been in order -- that I move that the committee establish a specific scope of inquiry prior to the White House's rebuttal of still undefined allegations.

If it shall be necessary to expand the scope of inquiry, then such expansion shall be permitted by majority vote of the committee. In addition, once specific allegations of inquiry have been designated, the committee shall hear from witnesses with direct knowledge of these allegations before it considers any articles of impeachment.

When that is in order, Mr. Chairman, I would like to introduce that. But in the meanwhile, I'd like to ask Mr. Craig whether or not he's been given a list of allegations noting that Mr. Starr's original report had 11 allegations.

SCOTT: He came back with 10. Mr. Schippers, Republican counsel, came up with 15. Our Democratic counsel came up with three.

Kathleen Willey has been mentioned as a possible scope. Campaign finance reform was in one day and out the next. Insult by the virtue of the response to the 81 questions has been mentioned as an impeachable offense, or lack of candor. Do you have a list of the allegations that you're responding to?

CRAIG: We do not, Congressman, and may I just say one thing about that problem, which I think has been highlighted by what Congressman Canady just did?

Particularly when allegations are being made about perjury, it is very important to particularize what the statement or what the alleged testimony is that is perjurious. And if this committee is going to be considering those kinds of articles, it would be of benefit to the world, as well as to this individual trying to serve a purpose of a defense lawyer, to know precisely what it is the president said in the grand jury that is supposed to be perjurious.

This is the way, in fact -- it's the common pleading way -- you deal with indictments for perjury or allegations of false testimony.

SCOTT: OK. Now, much has been said about 17 boxes of material. It's my understanding you've been given access to about a third of that material. Is that right?

CRAIG: I think we've been given some access, yes. But we're not allowed to take notes or to make copies.

SCOTT: OK. Mr. Ackerman, you indicated -- I think you acknowledged in your testimony that there is precedence for carrying over impeachments from one Congress to the next. Is there any question about the need to appoint managers by the House in the new Congress? Is there any question about that aspect of it?

ACKERMAN: There is only one case of carrying over since -- in the last 65 years. That's Judge Hastings' case. The previous carryovers are the trial of Pickering in 1804, which is the high point of no due process throughout the entire -- this was the worst possible precedent in the history of the United States. And then there was Judge Lauderback, I think it was, in 1933, which was just before the -- it was sort of the final revenge of the lame duck Congress. So there's only one case...

SCOTT: The question is, is there any question that the new House would have to appoint managers?

ACKERMAN: Absolutely. And in that case, the new House appointed managers. So there is no precedent for holding over the managers appointed by one House to the other House.

SCOTT: The other question I have is I'd like to ask, I guess Professor Wilentz, the title of the offense has been mentioned as the impeachable offense. Can you comment on why the title of the offense should not be used as the measure of whether it's an impeachable offense but the underlying behavior?

Is perjury an impeachable offense? Usually it's perjury, because you lied about bribes and things like that, that we ought be looking...

WILENTZ: Under some circumstances, perjury is plainly an impeachable offense.

SCOTT: And how do you measure, rather than the title, what do you look to to determine whether it's an impeachable offense?

WILENTZ: When it goes to a fundamental assault on our political institutions; when it goes to, as Mason said in the Constitutional Convention, when it's a crime against the state. That is the spirit of the Constitution as well as the letter.

SENSENBRENNER: The gentleman's time has expired.

SCOTT: And without that, it's not an impeachable offense?

Investigating the President


Tuesday, December 8, 1998

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