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

Transcript: House debates articles of impeachment

December 18, 1998

SPEAKER: The gentlewoman -- the gentlewoman from New York is recognized for one minute.

MALONEY: Mr. Speaker, if an action by a president poses a threat to our government, then he may be impeached for that action. The president's behavior was reprehensible, insensible, even unimaginable, but it is not impeachable.

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

The punishment does not fit the crime. The authors of the Constitution never intended this result.

Even Chairman Hyde said that he intended to conduct bipartisan hearings. We have watched as these intentions have eroded into an unnecessary partisan battle.

The president is accused of degrading his office. We must ask ourselves: Is the proper response to degrade the process by lowering the standard of impeachment?

Our biggest responsibility is to the American people. The American people elected this president and they have made it clear that they would like to keep him, warts and all. I join my Democratic colleagues in calling for a lesser punishment than a political death penalty. It is unfair, it is partisan, it is wrong.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from New Jersey is recognized for one minute.

ANDREWS: (Off mike)

SPEAKER: Without objection.

ANDREWS: Thank you.

I oppose the articles of impeachment because I believe, although the president's behavior was deplorable, I believe he has not committed a high crime and misdemeanor, so this decision is wrong for today.

But my colleagues, this decision is wrong for the ages because let me predict to you what is going to happen. Last year the United States Supreme Court said you can now proceed with a civil suit against a sitting president. The next time we have a polarizing president and a Congress from a different party, here's what's going to happen.

There is going to be a civil suit launched against that president. He or she is going to be dragged into discovery. And his or her opponents in this Congress are going to try to categorize anything they can as perjury and obstruction of justice. Articles of impeachment will be pursued, and the country will be weakened.

It is my sincere prayer here tonight that our children will not bear the bitter fruits of the reckless seeds that you are sowing here today.

The Constitution has worked well for over 200 years. Leave it alone.


SPEAKER: The gentleman from Indiana is recognized for 1.5 minutes.


SPEAKER: Without objection.

ROEMER: Mr. Speaker, John Paige (ph) wrote a letter to Thomas Jefferson on July 20th, 1776, which reads, and I quote, "We know the race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong. Do you not think an angel rides in the whirlwind and directs the storm?"

I pray that that providence is with this body, this country and our Constitution for fairness and justice and honor today, and I fear my prayers will go unanswered.

I voted with my Republican friends 68 days ago to initiate this investigation, to look at the facts and corroborate the evidence for a high crime and misdemeanor. And George Mason, who wrote that phrase, said and I quote, "It ranged from a great and dangerous offense to subverting the Constitution." This does not pierce that high threshold.

And when it comes to punishment -- Yes, the president did something reprehensible and immoral and sinful, and he should be punished by censure by this body and by prosecution like every other American would be when he leaves office.

Now finally, Mr. Speaker, this is our rule book. This is our sacred scripture in this body. And there is nothing in here, Mr. Speaker, that prohibits a censure. There is no impediment in our Constitution to a censure. In fact, we have censured and rebuked and criticized president three times -- in 1834, in 1842, in 1860.


And we have impeached a president once. I ask my friend for one additional minute.

SPEAKER: The gentleman's time has expired.

CONYERS: Give the gentleman 30 seconds.

SPEAKER: The gentleman is recognized.

ROEMER: There is precedent, Mr. Speaker. There is no prohibition or prevention to censure, and it is unfair and against our own rules not to let us vote.

Finally, let me quote from Benjamin Franklin who said after the convention when he was asked what have you wrought with this Constitution? And he said, "A republic, if you can keep it."

Mr. Speaker, the Constitution is sacred scripture, and it applies evenly and fairly to all of its people, all of its institutions, including the presidency.

I yield back the balance of my time.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from Wisconsin.

SENSENBRENNER: Mr. Speaker, I yield 30 seconds for a rebuttal to the gentleman from Indiana, Mr. Buyer.

SPEAKER: The gentleman is recognized.

BUYER: I have great respect for my colleague from Indiana, Mr. Roemer, and I would only respond by saying impeachment is the only power in the Constitution granted to Congress to address presidential criminal misconduct and the dereliction in exercise of his duties.

The censure resolution that was offered in the Judiciary Committee in fact has findings of guilt with a punishment. It is prohibitive, then, of a bill of attainder, and is therefore unconstitutional.

(UNKNOWN): Will the Congressman yield?

BUYER: A temptation to take the easy way out by assuming a power not specifically granted in the Constitution should be shunned and I would yield to my friend.

(UNKNOWN): I thank my friend.

SPEAKER: The time of the gentlemen has expired. The gentleman from Wisconsin.

SENSENBRENNER: The gentleman from New Hampshire, Mr. Bass.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from New Hampshire is recognized for one minute.

(UNKNOWN): Will he yield his time? At the unanimous consent to revise ...

SPEAKER: Without objection.

BASS: Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the resolution before us. This debate is not about the president, it's about the presidency. It's not about marital infidelity or contrition as tragic as that might be, but it's about lying under oath and it's not about contorted legalese to create the appearance of truth, it's about facing the underlying facts -- facing the reality of what we all know has happened here.

No citizen should ever be above the law and if you believe, as I do, that President Clinton knowingly made perjurious false and misleading statements under oath to a grand jury and in swore affidavits, that he attempted to corruptly influence the testimony of witnesses and potential witnesses, then you must support this resolution.

Let us pray that 1998 not be the year that we create a sovereign ruler. Rather let it be the moment when we reaffirm the principle of equal justice for all -- I urge support of the pending resolution.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from Michigan. The gentleman from Wisconsin.

SENSENBRENNER: Speaker, I yield one minute to the gentleman from Illinois, Mr. Hastert.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from Illinois is recognized for one minute, without objection.

HASTERT: Mr. Speaker, I am sadden that there is clear and convincing evidence that the president lied under oath, obstructed justice and abused the powers of his office in an attempt to cover up his wrong doing. I regret that the president's behavior puts me in the position of having to vote in favors of articles of impeachment and pass this matter onto the U.S. Senate for final judgment.

In facing this solemn duty, I look to the wisdom of our founding fathers. According to Alexander Hamilton in Federalist 65, impeachment concerns offenses which proceed from the misconduct to public men -- or in other words, from the apt abuse of violation of some public trust. The evidence in President Clinton's case is overwhelming that he has abused and violated the public trust.

In this nation, all men are created equal. Simply put, the president in our representative democracy is not a sovereign who is above the law. Tomorrow, I shall cast a difficult vote. The president's inability to abide by the law, the Constitution, and my conscious have all led me to the sound conclusion that impeachment articles must be passed.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from Michigan.

CONYERS: Mr. Speaker, I would yield 30 seconds to the gentleman from New York, Mr. Nadler, member of the Committee.

SPEAKER: Gentleman is recognized.

NADLER: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Buyer says that a censure resolution would be unconstitutional. The Congressional Research Service says that a censure resolution is an exercise of the implicit power of a deliberative body to express its views. Mr. Delay offered House Resolution 433, disapproving the president's conduct with respect to campaign finance. What's the distinction?

And why did Mr. Hyde make the censure resolution offered in Committee in order? Was he exercising an unconstitutional prerogative? I'd yield to Mr. Buyer.

BUYER: I'd say that the censure resolution that was offered has specific findings of guilt and therefore makes it unconstitutional in its form and it's a punishment that ...

NADLER: What about Delay? What about Delay's resolution?

BUYER: ...the integrity of the president.

SPEAKER: Gentleman from...

CONYERS: Mr. Speaker, I yield 15 seconds to the gentleman from Indiana, Mr. Roemer.

SPEAKER: The gentleman is recognized.

ROEMER: I thank my good friend from Michigan. In our House Rules manual, it explicitly states and I quote, "In the modern practice concurrent resolutions have been developed as a means of expressing principles, opinions and purposes of the two Houses." Thomas Jefferson said, principles, opinions and purposes could be expressed in the form of resolutions. What better person to go to than Thomas Jefferson?

(UNKNOWN): Will the gentleman yield?

SPEAKER: The gentleman from Michigan.

ROEMER: My time's out.

CONYERS: Mr. Speaker. I would now yield to two distinguished ranking Committee members, Mr. LaFalce of New York, Mr. Obersar of Minnesota and then my other colleagues, Mr. DeFazio, Mr. Etheridge of North Carolina, Mr. Payne of New Jersey and Mr. Hinojosa of Texas with my deep apologies, one minute each.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from New York is recognized.

LAFALCE: I ask unanimous to revise and extend my remarks.

SPEAKER: Without objection.

LAFALCE: Today is a very sad day in America's history, especially because everything leading up to today's vote has been so unfair. Ken Starr's investigation was unfair. He even tried to entrap the president. His report was unfair, for he left out important exculpatory evidence. His presentation to the House Judiciary Committee was so unfair that his own ethics adviser resigned as a result.

And the speaker-designate's decision to deny the House and the American people the right to vote on censure as an alternative is unfair. That decision constitutes an obstruction of the justice that the American people believe is warranted. Censure -- the justice that former President Gerald Ford, who knows something about impeachment, believes is warranted; that former Republican presidential candidate Robert Dole advised this body; censure, not impeachment.

I ask unanimous consent -- 15 additional seconds.

SPEAKER: The time of the gentleman has expired.

CONYERS: I would grant the gentleman 15 additional seconds, Mr. Speaker.

LAFALCE: You may have followed your conscience in deciding to vote for impeachment, but you cannot be considered just if you deny those of us -- I believe a majority of this body; I know a majority of the American public -- the right to vote on censure as an alternative to impeachment.

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

OBERSTAR: I ask unanimous consent to revise and extend.

SPEAKER: Without objection.

OBERSTAR: The constitutional scholars testifying before the Judiciary Committee made it clear that there is a high threshold for impeachment. Not all crimes are impeachable offenses. The impeachment power is limited to treason, bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanors. The word "other" means impeachment is limited to crimes similar to bribery and treason, threatening the basic integrity of government.

The charges against President Clinton fall well below this standard. When you cut through the rhetoric about rule of law, abuse of power, civil rights cases -- at bottom, the allegations are that the president tried to conceal an embarrassing private relationship.

These efforts at concealment came in the Paula Jones lawsuit -- a civil lawsuit. The relationship being concealed was that between the president and Ms. Lewinsky. And it was only tangentially relevant to the lawsuit, which was subsequently dismissed.

In any event, in his grand jury testimony, the president admitted an improper intimate relationship. For that, he deserves censure.

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

DEFAZIO: I ask unanimous consent to revise and extend my remarks.

SPEAKER: Without objection.

DEFAZIO: Member after member has risen on the other side and said the president should not be above the law. He is not. Ken Starr is free to prosecute the president, indict him, perhaps while in office, but definitely after. It is not ordinary criminal or civil law in question in this debate. It is article II, section IV of the Constitution regarding impeachment.

Impeachment is a special punishment reserved for the president of the United States and other federal civil officers. The founders set an incredibly high bar for impeachment. Constitutional scholars all agree the framers of the Constitution did not want a president to be impeached simply because of a majority of the members of Congress disagreed with his policies or found his moral repugnant.

The Republican majority has not raised and proven offenses that meet those standards. Rather, they have met the standards set by Gerald Ford twenty five years ago. He said an impeachable offense is anything 218 members of the House will vote for. That is an unconstitutional and cynical standard.

The alternative of censure would serve us well in this matter.

DEFAZIO: A near unanimous House could deliver a stinging and historic rebuke to the president with a motion of censure, and we will be denied that vote, and we're denied sufficient time to speak on the floor.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from North Carolina is recognized for one minute. Without objection.

ETHERIDGE: Mr. Speaker, at this very moment, half way around the world, our troops are engaged in battle. At a time to -- that we're here talking about doing in the commander-in-chief. I deplore that, because they're trying to do away with a dictator who has weapons of mass destruction that he will use.

As a Vietnam veteran, as a veteran of the Vietnam era, I know what it means to serve and have the commander-in-chief under siege. I voted in October for the committee to move forward. I'm ashamed that they did not come back with a joint resolution without it being partisan and unfair and politicized, and I'm ashamed of this body.

I came here to do the people's business. Tonight, we're not doing the people's business. We're doing a partisan business, and that is unfair. The American people will recognize it's unfair, and they're going to make us pay the price for being unfair and being partisan.

And I say if we could vote our conscience, we'd vote for censure. The Speaker-elect said we should vote our conscience, and you're not allowing us to do it, and you ought to be ashamed of yourself.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from New Jersey is recognized for one minute.

PAYNE: Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to this very unfair attack on President Clinton and our Constitution. The partisan assault, which we are witnessing today, is especially painful to me because when I was elected to Congress, I had the privilege of taking over the seat which had, up until that time, been held by the Honorable Peter Rodino.

During the Watergate hearings in 1974, Chairman Rodino won the respect and admiration of the entire nation for his insistence of fairness, his profound respect for the U.S. Constitution and his impeccable sense of decorum.

The Judiciary Committee in the Congress at this time has not done the job, and it's been in a partisan way. Mr. Speaker, I think the American people see this action for what it is today. Isn't it remarkable when a Democratic president engages in a secret affair, the Republicans leap to impeach him. But when a Republican leader engaged in the same conduct, they leap on their feet to give him a standing ovation.

SPEAKER: Did the gentleman from Michigan have one other speaker in this?

CONYERS: Yes, sir. We had Mr. Hinojosa from Texas.

SPEAKER: Is the gentleman from Texas in the chamber?

The gentleman from Wisconsin is recognized. We'll come back.

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

SPEAKER: The gentleman is recognized.

NETHERCUTT: Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of Articles I, II and III and ask unanimous consent to revise and extend my remarks.

SPEAKER: Without objection.

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

SPEAKER: The gentleman's recognized.

OXLEY: Mr. Speaker, I rise and ask unanimous consent in support of the four articles of impeachment, ask unanimous consent to revise and extend my remarks.

SPEAKER: Without objection.

SENSENBRENNER: Speaker, I yield five minutes to the gentleman from Indiana, Mr. Pease, a member of the Judiciary Committee.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from Indiana is recognized for five minutes.

PEASE: Mr. Speaker, as a member of the Judiciary committee, I've spent the greater part of the last several months reviewing the materials which were assigned to us by action of the House.

It has not been an easy task, especially as I struggled to maintain objectivity in the face of intense pressures from across the political spectrum.

It seemed that everyone had an opinion. Usually very firmly held and that anyone of any other opinion was not only wrong, but wrongly motivated as well. I accepted that, though I was discouraged with my own inability to convey to others an understanding that people could hold strong convictions without questioning the motives of those who differed with them and that all matters, but especially those as momentous as these, must be approached with respect for all involved and the institutions which we cherish.

As I have drawn the conclusions which my position on the committee required me to address, the level of rancor here and in my district has increased. And again, it has been across the political spectrum -- everything from my judgment to my patriotism to my motives to my professional and personal life have been attacked by people who obviously feel passionately about the issues before us.

I understand that, too, but feel deeply my failure to persuade others that issues of high importance, perhaps most especially issues of high importance can and should be debated not free of passion, but certainly free of vilification and personal attack.

PEASE: I have tried at all times to conduct myself accordingly. If nothing else, I hope I've made that contribution to this conversation. Members of the Committee have worked, I believe, honestly, sincerely, and under extraordinarily difficult circumstances to do their jobs.

We have differed on many things. From the role of the Committee to the standard of proof, to the definition of high crimes and misdemeanors. On several of them, there was agreement. But I have never questioned the motives of my colleagues or my constituents.

Among the issues the Committee addressed was that of censure. As we went into that discussion, I did not know whether this was an appropriate option for us to consider. But I felt the instructions of the House allowed us to review it.

As one who hoped to find both the right answer and one that most of us could support, I felt that we must. We did. And through the course of the discussion, it became clear that the meaning of censure and its place in a constitutional construct was unclear.

Aside from the constitutional discussion of whether either the House or the Senate, neither or both, could impose a censure, there was not even agreement on whether a resolution of censure was intended to punish or not.

After long debate, my conclusion on that subject is simply this: If censure is intended as a punishment of the president, it is specifically constitutionally prohibited as a Bill of Attainder. If censure is not intended as a punishment of the president, it is meaningless. I have not researched the options available to the Senate, but for the House, I am convinced that this option is not available. Mr. Speaker, I yield the balance of my time.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from Michigan.

CONYERS: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased now, and with apologies to my colleagues, since we are down to one minute on this side, to recognize Mr. Hinojosa of Texas, ranking member Gejdenson, and Maurice Hinchey, and Mr. Clement of Tennessee, in that order.

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

HINOJOSA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you, Mr. Speaker. This is a sad day in our nation's history. I say this because the stage has been set today to impeach our president against the will of the American people. This action is partisan. This action is wrong. This action is unconscionable.

How can we say this is a political democracy, when an overwhelming majority of the American people have clearly stated they want our president to remain in office? How can we say this is a political democracy when an overwhelming majority of the American people have said they want to see us negotiate a compromise?

How can we undo the last two presidential elections and say to the American people, "your votes do not matter?" Are we a democracy, or aren't we? I do not intend to stand by idly and be a party to what I will again will say is quite obviously an unfair process.

I was elected to this Congress to represent the people, and that is precisely what I intend to do by casting my vote against impeachment. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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

GEJDENSON: I request to revise and extend my remarks.

SPEAKER: Without objection.

GJEDENSON: Mr. Speaker, I would hope the Republicans no longer come to the floor to tell us they are for small government, because they are involved in the ultimate big government act. They are attempting to take away from the people the decision of who will preside over this great country.

When we saw Kruschev removed by the Politburo, no one ran tears. He wasn't elected by the people. He was appointed by an unelected body. When we see coups and coup d'etats, the removal of elected presidents in third world countries, we are saddened that they haven't developed to a stage where they have the institutional instincts for debate without trying to criminalize the process of differing views.

But here in this House today, the Republican party ignores what the Constitution asks us to do. The president, for his criminal acts, if they exist, he is left to the normal criminal process. We are here to judge if he undermined the United States in his office.

Did he indeed take actions that deem necessary for removal? The answer is no. Vote against this proposal.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from New York is recognized for one minute.

HINCHEY: May I ask unanimous consent to submit a longer statement for the record?

SPEAKER: Without objection.

HINCHEY: Mr. Speaker, in our recent history, Barbara Jordan gave us the best short definition of an impeachable offense during the impeachment hearings on President Nixon, when she said she would not tolerate the dimunition, subversion, the destruction of the Constitution.

President Clinton stands accused of something far short of that standard. By now, I think most Americans have concluded that the president has not subverted the Constitution, he has not undermined our system of government.

This impeachment punishes the country. It robs us of the time and attention that we should be devoting to other matters. It subverts the official duties of the president. It forces us to endure a trauma that serves no practical purpose.

It opens us the possibility that the country will be forced to endure similar suspensions of the nation's business again and again if future presidents face impeachments for any charges that a hostile prosecutor or a congressional majority can find.

Let us reserve impeachment for high crimes that betray the American people and our system of democracy. The charges against the president do not meet that standard.

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

CLEMENT: Mr. Speaker, I've heard a lot of talk today about the rule of law. I wish I could have heard a lot of talk about the rule of fairness. Why couldn't we have voted and debated on Monday, after the bombing ceased in Iraq?

Why couldn't the majority party let us vote on a censure proposal, where all of us in the United States House of Representatives could have voted our conscience.

You know, when I listen to the majority party, it makes me wonder if they think the president hadn't been punished at all yet. The president has been punished. He's been humiliated. He's been embarrassed.

He's paid a high price at home, as well as with the American people, as well as the people all across the world.

You know where in our finest hour has been? When we've known how to compromise. That's our finest hour in the United States House of Representatives. But how do you compromise when you just have one point of view? Vote against impeachment and give us the opportunity to vote on censure.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from Florida.

MCCOLLUM: Mr. Speaker, I yield first one minute to Mr. Istook of Oklahoma, and then one minute to Mr. Freylinghuysen of New Jersey.

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

ISTOOK: I ask unanimous consent to revise and extend.

SPEAKER: Without objection.

ISTOOK: Mr. Speaker, the president was given the opportunity to present witnesses or evidence which would dispute the facts. He did not. His legal hair-splitting defense could not alter the simple truth: the president lied, and lied under oath.

Here is what convinced me that this perjury is an impeachable offense and not simply a moral failure. These were not lies not told under sudden pressure, when he was unexpectantly asked embarrassing questions. The president lies were planned well in advance. They were premeditated.

He knowingly acted to block justice, even after a federal judge his behavior was relevant and material. He orchestrated a deliberate scheme to tell multiple lies under oath on multiple occasions many months apart. Even today, he has admitted only what he has been forced to admit, and otherwise, continues to stonewall.

This was not a spur of the moment to hide personal shame. He had ample time to correct his course, but instead chose to defy the laws of our land.

Mr. Speaker, I will vote to impeach.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from New Jersey is recognized for one minute.


SPEAKER: Without objection.

FRELINGHUYSEN: Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the resolution. WE have before us the evidence, as presented by all responsible parties, as well as the thoughts of so many constituents who feel strongly that their views should be reflected in the votes we cast.

Having reviewed so much of the evidence, I believe it is now clear that the president has violated both his oath of office and the oath he took to tell the truth.

In doing so, Bill Clinton not only perjury, he violated the public trust. I will, therefore, vote in favor of impeachment.

While I know that some will disagree, and strongly so with my decision, I've reached after much thought, deliberation and soul searching. When this sad chapter in our history is closed, I will have voted the way I did because I've shared with my two teenage daughters and thousands of other school children the fact that the truth still matters and always will. And finally, that a vote of conscience is always the right vote.

SPEAKER: The chair would announce that since beginning the debate at 12:15, the Republican side has used two hours and 16 minutes, and the Democratic side has used two hours and 26 minutes. And the gentleman from Michigan is recognized.

CONYERS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I yield to Mr. Meehan, the Committee member of Judiciary for 30 seconds.

SPEAKER: The gentleman is recognized.

MEEHAN: I would just like to (OFF-MIKE) that Estert (ph) from Oklahoma just said that we gave the president an opportunity to call witnesses to prove his innocence. Since when does a burden of proof in this country on the person being accused? You have the obligation to provide a case before the Judiciary Committee and you didn't provide a single material witness in this case -- not one witness -- and then to get up before this House and say the president had an opportunity to bring witnesses to prove his innocence. You have the obligation to provide the witnesses that would have proved the charges before this House and you didn't provide one witness.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from Michigan.

CONYERS: Mr. Speaker, I would like to now yield the following members of one minute. Mr. Abercrombie of Hawaii, Mr. Gutierrez of Illinois, Ms. McKinney of Georgia and Mr. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas.

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

ABERCROMBIE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'll revise this (OFF- MIKE).

SPEAKER: Without objection.

ABERCROMBIE: I think I'm perhaps the only member here who won an election and lost an election on the same day. I won a special election in 1986, lost the primary on the same day. As a result I was the last person to be sworn into this body by Tipp O'Neil before he retired and what I remember from that short time that I was here -- not knowing whether I'd come back -- is remarks from Tipp O'Neill and remarks from Henry Hyde.

Both of them said to me, in the short time I was here, whether you're here three weeks as I was, or whether you're here for 30 years, this is the people's House. This is the House of democracy. That lesson was given to me by Tipp O'Neill and Henry Hyde.

To not have the availability to us today to vote on a censure motion is to take away the fundamental sense of fairness that made me so proud to have been able to come to Hawaii 40 years ago, never knowing that I'd have the chance to serve in this House and to be denied the opportunity now to vote on an alternative, a reasonable alternative, that was emphasized by Henry Hyde and Tipp O'Neill is a travesty.

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

GUTIERREZ: Speaker Gingrich was always a proud to remind us that he was a professor of history so Mr. Gingrich could tell us about the Constitutional Convention, where it was decided that a president could be removed from office for high crimes and misdemeanors or Mr. Gingrich could tell us that censure was weighed and exercised against chief executives in the 19th century.

Let me clear, no one is condoning the president's behavior and if we have the chance, we would vote to condemn it. To take poetic license from Mark Anthony's words, from Julius Caesar, I did not come here to praise Bill Clinton, but I do not intend to see him buried either. Buried under an avalanche of innuendo and salacious scandal.

Nor do I wish to see this Congress play the role of Brutus, reaching across the centuries to stab in the back the founders of our democracy who entrusted us with their legacy. No one is attempting to defend the president. We are trying to defend a historical precedent. The voters spoke and they said they were sick of this partisan political process; sick of this extraordinarily expensive exhaustive examination of an extra marital affair.

History tells us what to do. Vote against impeachment of the president of the United States.

SPEAKER: Gentlewoman from Georgia is recognized for one minute.

MCKINNEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, today I rise with sadness in my heart. It's a sad day for our republic. Today the Republican leadership in the House has proven that they are in fact the minority party. The Republican leadership represents a minority view on impeachment, on health care reform, on tax cuts to benefit the wealthy and on protecting and preserving the social safety net.

Today the Republican leaders have chosen to trample the Constitution with partisan arrogance in order to strike a political blow against President Bill Clinton. Today the American people clearly oppose impeachment, but the Republican leaders, blinded by their own sanctimonious piety and hypocrisy have chosen to push our nation to the brink of a Constitutional crisis for their own political benefit.


Investigating the President


Friday, December 18, 1998

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