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Transcript: House debates articles of impeachment

December 18, 1998

SENSENBRENNER: For purposes of a unanimous consent request, I yield to the gentleman from Washington, Mr. Hastings.

SPEAKER: The gentleman is recognized.

House impeachment debate

Page 1: Adjournment debated

Page 2: ; LaHood sets rules;

Page 3: Gephardt (D); Hutchinson (R)

Page 4: Bonior (D); Frost (D); Menendez (D); Frank (D)

Page 5: Edwards (D); DeLauro (D); Gekas (R); Bryant (R) Boucher (R)

Page 6: Skelton (D); Lewis (D); Barr (R); Johnson (R) Schumer (D)

Page 7: Cunningham (R); Nadler (D); Graham (R); Barrett (D) Buyer (R)

Page 9: Sensenbrenner (R); Jackson Lee (D); Bliley (R)

Page 10: DeGette (R); Gallegly (R); Wexler (D); Campbell (R); Rothman (D); Petri (R)

Page 11: Waters (D); Bono (R); Fazio (D); Brady (R); Kennelly (D); Hulshof (R)

Page 12: Lofgren (D); Johnson (R); Kennedy (D); Linda Smith (R); Christian-Green (D); Bachus (R); Tony Hall (D)

Page 13: King (R); Owens (D); McCollum (R); Jefferson (D); Bryant (R); Manton (D); McHale (D)

Page 14: Lantos (D); Riggs (R); Meek (D); Myrick (R); Jackson (D); Linder (R); Horn (R)

Page 15: Obey (D); Goodling (R); Slaughter (D); Ros-Lehtinen (R); Kildee (D); Ewing (R); Filner (D); Coble (R)

Page 16: McGovern (D); Talent (R); Stearns (R); Kilpatrick (D); McInnis (R); Markey (D); Fawell (R); Klink (R); Whitfield (R); Hastings (D); Hansen (R)

Page 17: Lowey (D); Waxman (D); Houghton (R); Wynn (D); Kingston (R); Pelosi (D); Wicker (R); Eshoo (D); Deutsch (D); Greenwood (R); Doggett (D); Jerry Lewis (R); Boehner (R)

Page 18: Kind (D); Chabot (R); Woolsey (D); Lazio (R); Sawyer (D); Goss (R); Green (D); Callahan (R); Cannon (R); Evans (D); Kucinich (D); Olver (D); Rogan (R)

Page 19: Wilson (R); Cardin (D>; Clayton (D); Farr (D); Aderholt (R); Weygand (D); Baldacci (D); Sanders (I); Jenkins (R); Stokes (D); Kennedy (D); Davis (D); Carson (D); Diaz-Balart (R); Skaggs (D)

Page 10

U.S. REPRESENTATIVE DOC HASTINGS (R-WA): I thank the gentleman for yielding. Mr. Speaker, I'm in favor of the articles of impeachment and ask unanimous consent to revising (OFF-MIKE) remarks.

SPEAKER: Without objection.

SENSENBRENNER: Mr. Speaker, for purposes of unanimous consent request, I yield to the gentleman from California, Mr. Calvert.

SPEAKER: The gentleman's recognized.

U.S. REPRESENTATIVE KEN CALVERT (R-CA): I rise in favor of impeachment and ask unanimous consent to revise...

SPEAKER: Without objection.

SENSENBRENNER: Mr. Speaker, I yield two minutes to the distinguished gentlewoman from New Mexico, Mrs. Wilson.

SPEAKER: The gentlewoman is recognized for two minutes.

U.S. REPRESENTATIVE HEATHER WILSON (R-NM): Mr. Speaker, I hadn't planned to talk today. I've made my decision and told my constituents, but some of the comments made on the floor have caused me to reconsider my silence.

WILSON: It appears that some of our members believe or would have others believe that those of us who will vote to impeach the president are driven by some kind of blind partisanship or are doing it because our arms are being twisted.

I am the junior member of this House. The district that I love is more Democrat than Republican. And not once, not once has any leader of this House even so much as asked me how I will vote. I read the evidence, and I must admit that I was looking for some explanation of rebuttal of the facts, some justification to spare the country from impeachment. I could not find it, and I cannot turn from the truth and the evidence that supports it.

I have reached my decision with a profound sense of sadness. I am constantly reminded of the symbol of justice in America. Justice holding the scales is not blind because she looks away or because she will not see. Justice is blind so that every citizen, regardless of race, or creed, or station in life will be treated equally under the law, and that includes the president of the United States. It is a powerful symbol, and today it is one we must live up to, even when it would be easier to look away.

You may challenge the facts, you may challenge my reasoning, but do not challenge the integrity of my purpose.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from...

CONYERS: Mr. Speaker, I profoundly apologize to those of my colleagues on this side of the aisle who have been waiting so very long to be recognized. We have the exigencies of the evening. We have still a lot of members and our time is running shorter, and I'm going to have to reduce to 1-1/2 minutes of many of my colleagues whom I had intended to give a much larger amount of time. I apologize for it. And now I recognize for 1-1/2 minutes the distinguished gentleman from Maryland, Mr. Cardin, and then the gentlelady from North Carolina, Mrs. Clayton, and the gentleman from California, Mr. Farr.

SPEAKER: The gentleman's recognized. Without objection.

U.S. REPRESENTATIVE BEN CARDIN (D-MD): Mr. Speaker, by the president's own admission, his conduct was wrong. He misled his family and our nation. The president has gravely disappointed, embarrassed our country. The question presented to Congress is not whether the president's conduct is reprehensible, but whether his actions warrant his impeachment and removal from office.

Short of a declaration war, there's no more solemn responsibility for a congressman enacting the possible impeachment of the president. I was never so proud to be a member of this House during our debate of our participation in Operation Desert Storm. That debate helped bring out nation together, regardless of what side one was on that issue. The debate consolidated our country and everyone felt good with the results.

Unfortunately, the process used in the House impeachment inquiry has brought about just the opposite result in our nation. However, each of us must be guided by what the Constitution dictates as far as impeachment.

Our decision will not only affect this president, but will affect the future of our presidency. The Constitution and the historical record indicates that the words in the Constitution were clear to the framers of the Constitution that they apply only to fundamental offenses against the system of government.

President Clinton's misleading statements have nothing to do with his official duties of his office. They were designed to conceal an embarrassing, highly inappropriate personal relationship. As such, they do not rise to the level of an impeachable offense. I urge my colleagues to reject each of the four articles of impeachment. I yield back the balance of my time.

SPEAKER: The gentleman has two other speakers that he announced previously. The gentlewoman may proceed. The gentlewoman from North Carolina for 1-1/2 minutes.

U.S. REPRESENTATIVE EVA CLAYTON (D-NC): Mr. Speaker, today is a very sad day for this House and this country. I rise in opposition to these articles of impeachment. What we say today will be soon forgotten, but what we do will be remembered throughout history.

We are considering articles of impeachment of the president of the United States based on standards of our personal preference selected interpretation of the law, and partisan politics, yet we use the Constitution, the rule of law for our reckless action. The Constitution clearly states what constitutes an impeachable offense. And we must not here attempt to substitute our personal views. We are establishing a dangerous precedent when we move to lower the standards below treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors. We should follow the Constitution, not use it as a tool for public execution, but we should use it to extol the high virtues and the greatness of this nation.

Much is said about the rule of law, and that the president is not above the law. The rule of law, however, must be based on justice if it is to survive. The inscription that appears upon the United States Supreme Court says, "Equal justice under law." It should read, "Equal law under justice." Justice is a higher authority. The process of impeachment that we are now undertaking is permitted by law, but each of us must ask the question -- What does justice require of us? The law says we indeed can impeachment the president. Justice says we must consider the greatness of this country and what he has done. Does that lead to impeachment offense? We are breaking the law, we are violating our oath when we do not consider the Constitution.

SPEAKER: Gentleman from California, 1-1/2 minutes. Without objection.

U.S. REPRESENTATIVE SAM FARR (D-CA): Mr. Speaker, today is the wrong day and this is the wrong way. When our side asked this morning -- Why are we doing this today? -- the Republican leadership responded, "Because we want to demonstrate democracy at work." Democracy at work.

I served this country in the United States Peace Corps. I know how to demonstrate democracy at work, and this is not it. No one anywhere in the world today can explain why a Congress would impeach the most popular elected president in the world at a time when that president is engaged in a conflict in Iraq.

What you see here today is not a demonstration of democracy, it is a demonstration of a partisan political coup. This is not only the wrong day, this is also the wrong way.

Mr. Speaker, you can't claim that a democracy is working when you deny the minority a voice. There are no options here today. There will be no vote for censure. That is not even allowed not offered. There is absolutely no alternatives, no nothing, just plain meanness.

SPEAKER: Gentleman from Wisconsin.

SENSENBRENNER: Mr. Speaker, I yield for unanimous consent request of the gentleman from Virginia, Mr. Davis.

SPEAKER: Gentleman is recognized.

U.S. REPRESENTATIVE THOMAS DAVIS III (R-VA): ... to place a statement in the record on this. It will be available on my Web page for constituents and the press as well. Thank you.

SPEAKER: Without objection.

SENSENBRENNER: Mr. Speaker, I now yield a minute to the gentleman from Alabama, Mr. Aderholt.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from Alabama is recognized for one minute.

U.S. REPRESENTATIVE ROBERT ADERHOLT (R-AL): Mr. Speaker, it gives me no pleasure to rise this afternoon in support of impeaching our president, William Jefferson Clinton. But make no mistake about it, it is Bill Clinton who has brought us to where we are today. And the issue here is not the relation that Bill Clinton had with Monica Lewinsky, but rather the credibility and the honor under oath that must exist within the institution of the presidency, and which has been squandered by the current occupant of this high office.

There are absolute applicable standards by which we all must live. If we do not live up to those standards, we will no longer be that nation which stands as a beacon of hope for all the world. This president has backed up his words of repentance with action that can only be characterized as stonewalling.

There are many who say that the president -- what he has done is no big deal and that anyone would do the same. As a relatively young man, I remember a time in this great nation when those endowed with public trust and those that were elected to public office were held to a higher standard. Today this vote we take a step toward restoration of honor and responsibility.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from Michigan.

CONYERS: Mr. Speaker, once again, the exigencies of time have required me to apologize in advance to my colleagues because I'm now going to have to limit all of them to one minute. And I recognize my friends that have been waiting so long, Mr. Weygand of Rhode Island, Mr. Baldacci of Maine and Bernie Sanders -- Mr. Sanders of Vermont.

SPEAKER: The gentleman's recognized for one minute. Without objection.

U.S. REPRESENTATIVE BOB WEYGAND (D-RI): Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

About two months ago, Mr. Speaker, I rose with 30 of my Democratic colleagues to support the Republican request for an inquiry. I did so because I really had grave reservations about what the president had done. I truly believed that there may be, indeed, an impeachable offense. I listened with an open mind and hoped for fairness and openness in the hearings. Unfortunately, I was very disappointed because I looked for clear-cut evidence that would show me and my people in Rhode Island that, indeed, there was an impeachable offense. We didn't come to that conclusion.

So I researched and looked back, and back just 211 years ago, Alexander Hamilton said in regard to impeachment, "In many cases, it will connect itself with preexisting factions and will enlist all the animosities, the partialities, the influence and the interest in one side or the other. And in such cases, it will always be dangerous that the decision will be regulated more by a comparison of strength of the parties, rather than the demonstration of innocence or guilt."

Mr. Chairman, I ask all of you to consider that because today it is the impartiality of partisanship, and we should be really considering the evidence. It is not there. Please do not vote for these articles of impeachment.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SPEAKER: The gentleman's recognized for one minute.

U.S. REPRESENTATIVE JOHN BALDACCI (D-ME): May I revise, extend and add on?

SPEAKER: The gentleman may.

BALDACCI: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, my colleagues in the majority have sought to claim for themselves the mantle of the rule of law. In fact, however, I believe they have strayed far from the mandates of the United States Constitution, the supreme law of the land. They've tried to make the case that if we do not impeach President Clinton, we'll be sending the message that the president will not be held responsible for his actions. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Whether or not Congress votes to impeach and convict, President Clinton will be subject to both criminal and civil prosecution when he leaves office. In addition, the Constitution explicitly states that a person who is impeached and convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to indictment, trial, judgment and punishment according to the law.

BALDACCI: Regardless of what action the Congress does or doesn't take, President Clinton, like every other citizen, will be held accountable in court for his alleged violations. Forget not that when President Nixon stepped down from office, he still had to be pardoned because of the crimes that he committed he could have been held responsible for. The president under the Constitution is the only one that's allowable for double jeopardy.

I ask my colleagues that this matter is so important that we do not want to lessen the standard for future generations.

Thank you very much.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from Vermont is recognized for one minute.

U.S. REPRESENTATIVE BERNARD SANDERS (I-VT): Mr. Speaker, I have never fully appreciated before just how out of touch this institution is with the needs of the American people. Forty three million Americans have no health insurance. Millions of senior citizens cannot afford their prescription drugs. And this House is going to vote to send to the Senate for a trial to go on month after month after month to discuss where Bill Clinton touched Monica Lewinsky.

The global economy is volatile. The average American today is working longer hours for lower wages, and we have the widest gap between the rich and the poor. And we are voting today perhaps to paralyze our government as the Senate explores the president's extramarital relations and his lies and his cover-up of that relationship.

Mr. Speaker, Bill Clinton acted deplorably in his personal behavior, but what the American people are saying loudly and clearly is "Let's get on with the business of the American people."

CONYERS: Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from New York, a member of the committee, 15 seconds.

SPEAKER: The gentleman's recognized for 15 seconds.

NADLER: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Rogan a few moments ago said that an impeachment vote is not a vote to remove the president, but simply to charge him. I read from the resolution: "wherefore William Jefferson Clinton by such conduct warrants impeachment and trial and removal from office," in addition to which we're already being told he should resign rather than face a trial.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from Wisconsin.

SENSENBRENNER: I yield myself 15 seconds.

SPEAKER: The gentleman's recognized.

SENSENBRENNER: We've heard all of these prophets of economic doom and gloom if the House discharges its constitutional duty today in impeaching the president. The NASDAQ hit an all-time high. I think the markets are smarter than some of the people who are making these accusations.

Now I yield to the gentleman from Nebraska, Mr. Barrett, for a unanimous consent request.

SPEAKER: The gentleman's recognized.

U.S. REPRESENTATIVE BARRETT (R-NE): I thank the gentleman for yielding. I rise in support of all four articles of impeachment, and ask unanimous consent to revise and extend.

SPEAKER: Without objection.

SENSENBRENNER: Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Georgia, Mr. Collins, for a unanimous consent request.

SPEAKER: The gentleman is recognized.

U.S. REPRESENTATIVE MAC COLLINS (R-GA): Mr. Speaker, request permission to enter into the record a statement supporting the articles of impeachment.

SPEAKER: Without objection.

SENSENBRENNER: Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from New Jersey, Mr. Pappas, for a unanimous consent request.

SPEAKER: The gentleman is recognized.

U.S. REPRESENTATIVE MIKE PAPPAS (R-NJ): Mr. Speaker, I stand in support of four articles of impeachment and ask unanimous consent to revise and extent my remarks.

SPEAKER: Without objection.

SENSENBRENNER: Mr. Speaker, I now yield four minutes to the gentleman from Tennessee, Mr. Jenkins, a member of the Judiciary Committee.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from Tennessee is recognized for four minutes.

U.S. REPRESENTATIVE BILL JENKINS (R-TN): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Speaker, the gentleman from Florida, Mr. Stearns, and others in this House today have made a very good point about the defense that's been made in this case. In the committee and again here today, the defense employed does not consist of a denial of the charges or an explanation of the behavior that's involved, but rather it's an admission of the acts by many defenders, and it is coupled with almost certainly attacks on the special counsel, attacks on the Judiciary Committee and attacks on the entire Congress.

And today that defense has been expanded to plead that our military forces would not want us to consider this matter at this time. A great Air Force officer, our colleague, Representative Sam Johnson from Texas, who spent seven years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, who surely earned the right to speak to and refute that defense, refuted it very capably here today.

Now, let's hear from another great American soldier who uttered these words, and these words were reprinted in an ad in "Roll Call" magazine today. "Duty, honor, country. These three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. The unbelievers will say they are but words, but a slogan, but a flamboyant phrase. Every demagogue, every cynic, every hypocrite, every troublemaker will try to downgrade them even to the extent of ridicule and mockery. But they build your basic character. They mold you for your future roles as the custodians of the nation's defenses. The long, gray line has never failed us. Were you to do so, a million ghosts in olive drab, in brown khaki, in blue and gray would rise from their white crosses, thundering `Duty, honor, country."'

These are excerpts from General of the Army Douglas MacArthur's farewell to the corps of cadets at West Point on May the 12th, 1962. Eleven years earlier, he was invited to address a joint session of Congress, ending his 52 years of distinguished military service. He spoke of the courage and the sacrifice of so many Americans who did not fail us, including those who gave their lives defending our values and our way of life.

NADLER: Would the gentleman yield for a question?

JENKINS: I would ask you, please remember the words of this great soldier...

NADLER: Would the gentleman yield for a question?

JENKINS: ... as you consider the merits of the allegation and the defenses to the allegation of this case.

I yield back the balance of my time.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from Michigan.

CONYERS: Mr. Speaker, I would like to now recognize the gentleman from Wisconsin, Mr. Kleczka, for a unanimous consent request.

SPEAKER: The gentleman's recognized.

U.S. REPRESENTATIVE GERALD KLECZKA (D-WI): Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to the articles of impeachment and ask unanimous consent to revise and extend.

SPEAKER: Without objection.

CONYERS: And now, with apologies to my colleagues where I am now reduced to only one minute for each of them, I'd like to recognize the following persons. My beloved colleague, Lou Stokes from Ohio, Mr. Kennedy from Rhode Island, Mr. Danny Davis from Illinois and Mrs. Julia Carson (ph) from Indiana.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from Ohio is recognized for one minute.

U.S. REPRESENTATIVE LOUIS STOKES (D-OH): Thank you.

Mr. Speaker, for 30 years I've served in this institution. It's an institution which I've always loved, honored and revered. I have taken pride in being able to speak from this well on many historic occasions, but it is no honor today to speak and cast the last votes of my career against a resolution to remove from office the president of the United States.

This is, in my opinion, the saddest day in the history of the House of Representatives. It is also a sad day for America. As one who long before coming to Congress practiced and studied constitutional law, I am convinced that the Framers of the Constitution believed that they could entrust to this elected body the responsibility of determining what constitutes treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.

I firmly believe that they trusted us to place the interests of the American people on such an exalted plain that they never envisioned this House removing a president from office except for grievous transgressions against the government which elected him. I believe the Founders never envisioned this provision of our Constitution being used in such an unconstitutional and unfair manner as to overthrow an election where the American people have gone to the polls to vote and elect their president.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from Rhode Island is recognized for one minute. Without objection.

U.S. REPRESENTATIVE PATRICK KENNEDY (D-RI): We have no right to stand here and debate the rule of law if we cannot even extend to the president of the United States that same right of due process as required by our Constitution. The majority has replaced the notion of due process with the notion that if you just say something long enough, it will become true.

Today we will be remembered for impeaching a president, for a punishment that does not fit the crime. Today we will be remembered for a political mutiny of our commander-in-chief when our troops were in the field. And today this Congress sends a message that the constitutional scales of justice can be tipped to one side if it suits the purpose of one political party.

Four hundred respected historians have said that the presidency will be permanently disfigured and diminished by today's vote. Over 200 constitutional scholars have argued that the sentiment of these offenses does not rise to the level of impeachment. And two thirds of the American public have said the same thing.

Mr. Speaker, Republicans, put your country before your party!

SPEAKER: The gentleman from Illinois is recognized for one minute.

U.S. REPRESENTATIVE DANNY DAVIS (D-IL): (OFF-MIKE)

SPEAKER: Without objection.

DAVIS: Mr. Speaker, I call this the nightmare before Christmas. And the American people find it difficult to believe that here we are on this day, talking about impeaching a president who just came back from the Middle East almost with a peace accord. This is not about impeaching Bill Clinton. This is about trying to roll back the clock. This is about impeaching Affirmative Action, impeaching women's rights. This is about taking America back rather than moving it forward.

I know how I'm going to vote. My people have told me. I will not disregard the people who elected me. Seventy percent of them have said to me, "Protect the president. Vote to keep this president in office." So I will not vote for this nightmare before Christmas. I will not vote for this lynching in the people's House. I will vote against these resolutions.

SPEAKER: The gentleman -- or the gentlewoman from Indiana is recognized for one minute, and without objection.

CARSON: Mr. Speaker, we have dispatched and asked some of America's woman and men to place themselves in harm's way and degrade Saddam Hussein's capacity in weapons of mass destruction. Simultaneously, we place the citizens of America in harm's way by utilizing political weapons of mass destruction to degrade and destroy the president of the United States.

Lyndon Johnson said the difference between Democrats and Republicans is that we don't hate your presidents. Some say this is not about sex. It's about lying under oath. Lying under oath about sex is still about sex. And the only reason it's about sex is that you guys couldn't find anything else to get on him. Any extramarital affair, whether it's by a president or a member of Congress, is lying under oath -- the most sacred of oaths, the marriage vow.

Any lie told by a president about the people's business is under oath -- the presidential oath of office. It's not just one poll, but in all polls by a two-to-one margin, the American people say that when it comes to people's sex lives, even president's sex lives, the government should mind its own business.

SENSENBRENNER: Mr. Speaker.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from Wisconsin.

SENSENBRENNER: Speaker, I yield myself 30 seconds.

SPEAKER: The gentleman is recognized.

SENSENBRENNER: Mr. Speaker, the gentleman from Rhode Island says the president wasn't given due process, and exactly the opposite is true. Chairman Hyde gave the president a standing invitation to appear before the Judiciary Committee. He did not accept that offer.

P. KENNEDY: Will the gentleman yield?

SENSENBRENNER: No.

P. KENNEDY: The gentleman has named me and my accusation. I'd like to have a chance to...

SENSENBRENNER: Mr. Speaker, I have the floor.

P. KENNEDY: Is not perjury a legal term? Have you defined perjury in a court of law? Or is just your constant repetition that the president has lied?

SPEAKER: The gentleman from Rhode Island is out of order. The gentleman from Wisconsin.

SENSENBRENNER: Mr. Speaker, the president's lawyers had up to 30 hours to present their defense. Mr. Starr had 12 and a half hours.

SPEAKER: The gentleman will suspend. The chair will remind all persons in the gallery that they are here as guests of the House and that any manifestation of approval or disapproval of proceedings is in violation of the rules of the House.

The gentleman may proceed.

SENSENBRENNER: Mr. Speaker, the Democrats had almost two-thirds of the witnesses before the committee. They called 28 witnesses. The Republicans called 15 and they shared two. Chairman Hyde asked the White House to present evidence that would exonerate the president.

SPEAKER: The gentleman's 30 seconds have expired.

SENSENBRENNER: They didn't. Mr. Speaker, I yield the gentleman from New York, Mr. Boehlert, for a unanimous consent request.

SPEAKER: The gentleman is recognized.

BOEHLERT: Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of that enduring document, the Constitution. It has stood the test of time, and ask unanimous consent to revise and extend my remarks.

SPEAKER: Without objection. The gentleman from Wisconsin.

SENSENBRENNER: Mr. Speaker, I yield two minutes to the gentleman from Florida, Mr. Diaz-Balart.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from Florida is recognized for two minutes.

DIAZ-BALART: Unanimous consent to revise and extend.

SPEAKER: Without objection.

DIAZ-BALART: Mr. Speaker, this is a very sad and difficult day, but those of us elected to lead in this great representative democracy must act and vote based upon our consciences, even in the most difficult of situations.

DIAZ-BALART: I would like to make just a few points. First of all, the founders of the republic did not create the remedy of impeachment to change the results of presidential elections, but rather as a great check and balance to redress patterns of delinquent conduct by chief executives.

Secondly, all democratic governments must have both the legitimacy of origin and the legitimacy of conduct. President Clinton obviously enjoys the legitimacy of origin, having been elected to the presidency.

His serious violations of the law, however, including his breaking of oaths in judicial proceedings to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, have lost for him the legitimacy of conduct.

Thirdly, the matter before us today has nothing to do with the president's private life, which should be of interest to no one. This has to do with perjury, obstruction of justice and abuse of power, violations of the law.

Failure to impeach President Clinton would increase the likelihood that perjury would be committed in future legal proceedings. It would increase the likelihood that future Congresses would hesitate to impeach federal judges for perjury or obstruction of justice.

In short, it would do grave harm to the integrity of the judicial system of the United States. The essential point of the action that we are now taking is that no one in the United States is above the law, not even the president.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from Michigan.

CONYERS: Mr. Speaker, I yield fifteen seconds to the gentleman from New York...

SPEAKER: The gentleman is recognized for...

CONYERS: Mr. Nadler, a member of the committee.

SPEAKER: ... Fifteen seconds.

NADLER: Mr. Speaker, the Republicans say we are not contesting any fact allegations. But the fact is, there were no fact witnesses brought before the Committee. There were no specific perjury quotes, no specific alleged lies cited in the Articles.

And I ask the Republicans, do you deny the president admitted to an inappropriate relationship in front of the grand jury? Is your beef that he wasn't graphic enough...

SPEAKER: Time of the gentleman...

NADLER: ... about who...

SPEAKER: ... time of the gentleman has expired. The gentleman from Michigan.

CONYERS: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased now to recognize the following members for one minute. Mr. Skaggs, Mrs. Maloney, Mr. Andrews, and Mr. -- all for a minute, and Mr. Romer of Indiana for one-and-one-half minutes.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from Colorado is recognized for one minute.

SKAGGS: The censure of a president is a remedy available to us to deal with the misconduct of a president. It was used in 1800 against President Adams. Then, Representative John Marshall, a future chief justice, made no argument against its constitutionality. If it was good enough for him, it should be good enough for us.

In denying us that option, the majority undermined its claim of conscience, because the essence of conscience is the freedom to choose among reasonable alternatives. This is a political solstice with a cold darkness to match the winter solstice. I pray that a new and better season of our politics will come.

I so want the speakership of my friend Bob Livingston to succeed and to nurture a renewal of this House. We owe him and ourselves and the country that opportunity. I want nothing more than for this House to fulfill the aspirations of its members and the people.

Let it be a great and decent deliberative body serving in honor the great purposes of a great nation. This is my last speech here. I leave my colleagues with the plea to be good to each other, so that you may do your best for the country that we love.

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Investigating the President

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Friday, December 18, 1998

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