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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. James Sensenbrenner

House Judiciary Committee hearing, December 8, 1998


Mr. Hyde will be out of the room for a bit, and we will begin the questioning.

I will begin with myself and, again, I will reiterate Mr. Hyde's admonition that the questions will be limited to five minutes, and when the red light goes on for each questioner, we will state that the time has expired and go on to the next questioner.

So I yield myself five minutes.

Mr. Craig, in your opening statement, you asked members of the committee to open their hearts and open their minds and to look at the record. And I think, since the ninth of September, committee members have spent a lot time looking at the record -- first in executive session and then in the public meetings that this committee has had pursuant to the resolution that the House of Representatives directed us to conduct an impeachment inquiry.

We've heard an awful lot of academic discourse and discussion on what constitutes an impeachable offense, what constitutes perjury. But we've heard nothing from the president contradicting the fact witnesses in the grand jury testimony that Judge Starr sent over to us in 18 boxes worth of evidence.

I'm disappointed that there are no fact witnesses rebutting any of the evidence that was contained in the 18 boxes and your presentation today and tomorrow. Are you disputing any of the facts? And if so, why are you not bringing forth witnesses that can provide direct fact testimony, rather than opinion or argument disputing the facts?

CRAIG: Congressman, let me respond to that this way. We have submitted, in writing, three different responses to the referral that was presented to the House of Representatives by Mr. Starr and the Office of Independent Counsel. And we -- in those responses, we take issue with many of the facts laid out by Mr. Starr in those -- in that referral.

We do dispute representations and characterizations that the independent counsel has made, and we do dispute some of the testimony that has been presented in the grand jury. And we, in particular, urge the committee not necessarily to take at face value the characterizations of that testimony or the president's testimony that are to be found in the referral by Mr. Starr.

We find that frequently he mischaracterizes that testimony or the Office Independent Counsel in the referral has mischaracterized the testimony of the president in order to construct a perjury allegation.

SENSENBRENNER: Well, let me get to the heart of this case. Did Monica Lewinsky provide false testimony to the grand jury, in your opinion?

CRAIG: We think, in some areas, she provided erroneous testimony that is in disagreement with the president's testimony, and particularly in specific areas having to do with the grand jury.

Now, you are going to have to make a determination as to how important the divergence, the disagreement or the disagreement on the testimony is. We're not...

SENSENBRENNER: There have been complaints by the president's counsel and by the minority Democrats on this committee that grand jury testimony is not subject to cross-examination, and that Miss Lewinsky and the other witnesses that came before the grand jury were not cross examined. How come you are not bringing any of these people before this committee to provide the cross-examination that the grand jury procedure denied you?

CRAIG: We have found, Mr. Chairman, many inconsistent statements in the grand jury testimony itself that we believe we can use to support our case. We believe that the president should be given a presumption of innocence and that the burden should be on the committee to call fact witnesses and determine whether the credibility of the fact witnesses is such that should draw that conclusion.

SENSENBRENNER: Well, the investigation was done pursuant to the independent counsel statute. And I would just observe, Mr. Craig, that if the president had told the truth in January, there would have been no independent counsel investigation of this whole matter and we wouldn't be sitting here today.

My time is expired.

Investigating the President


Tuesday, December 8, 1998

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