Transcript: House manager Bryant's statement of background
January 14, 1999
January 14, 1999
CHIEF JUSTICE WILLIAM REHNQUIST: The chair recognizes Mr. Manager Bryant.
REP. ED BRYANT (R-TENNESSEE): Mr. Chief Justice, members of the Senate and my distinguished colleagues from the bar, I am Ed Bryant, the representative from the Seventh District of Tennessee.
During this portion of the case, I, along with Representative Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, Representative Jim Rogan of California, and Representative Bill McCollum of Florida will present the factual elements of this case.
Our presentation is a very broad roadmap which first we will provide -- I will provide the history and background of the parties, followed by Mr. Hutchinson and Mr. Rogan who will review the articles of impeachment. Mr. McCollum will close with a summation of the facts in evidence.
It is our intent to proceed in a chronological fashion, although by necessity there will be some overlap of the facts and circumstances arising from what I have called the four-way intersection collision of President William Jefferson Clinton, Ms. Paula Corbin Jones, Monica Lewinsky, and the United States Constitution.
As a further preface -- preface to my remarks, permit me to say that none of us today are here in these hallowed chambers that relish doing this job for us. But we did not choose to be involved in that reckless misconduct, nor did we make those reasoned and calculated decisions to cover up that misconduct which underlies this proceeding.
However, this collision at the intersection, if you will, of the president, Ms. Jones and Ms. Lewinsky is not in and of itself enough to bring us together today. But had truth been a witness at this collision and prevailed, we would not be here. And when it was not present even under oath to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth in a judicial matter, the impact of our Constitution must be felt.
Hence we are here today to do our respective duties.
By voting these articles of impeachment, the House is not attempting to raise the standard of conduct to perfection for our political leadership. Such a person does not walk the world today. Everyone falls short of this mark every day. But political life is not so much about how an individual fails but rather how that person reacts to that failure.
For example, a person campaigning for a political office admits wrongdoing in the past and says he will not do that again.
Most people accept that commitment.
He is elected. Thereafter, he repeats this wrongdoing and is confronted again. What does he do? He takes steps to cover up this wrongdoing by using his workers and his friends. He lies under oath in a lawsuit which is very important to the person he is alleged to have harmed.
He then takes a political poll as to whether he should tell the truth under oath. The poll indicates the voters would not forgive him for lying under oath. So he then denies the truth in a federal grand jury.
If this person is the president of the United States, the House of Representatives would consider articles of impeachment. It did and voted to impeach this president.
But do not let it be argued in these chambers that we are not electing saints, we are electing presidents.
Rather, let it be said that we are electing people who are imperfect and who have made mistakes in life, but who are willing to so respect this country and the office of the president that he or she will now lay aside their own personal shortcomings and have the inner strength to discipline themselves sufficiently that they do not break the law which they themselves are sworn to uphold.
Every trial must have a beginning, and this trial begins on a cold day in January, 1993.
REHNQUIST: Will you please raise your right hand and repeat after me? I, William Jefferson Clinton, do solemnly swear...
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I, William Jefferson Clinton, do solemnly swear...
REHNQUIST: That I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States.
CLINTON: That I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States.
REHNQUIST: And will to the best of my ability.
CLINTON: And will to the best of my ability.
REHNQUIST: Preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
CLINTON: Preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
REHNQUIST: So help me God.
CLINTON: So help me God.
BRYANT: I had expected a video portion, but all of you heard the audio portion. But as you can hear from the audio production, and perhaps some of you could see, William Jefferson Clinton placed his left hand on the Bible in front of his wife, the chief justice and every American watching that day, and affirmatively acknowledged his oath of office.
On that very day, and again in January of 1997, the president joined a privileged few. He became only the 42nd president -- person -- in our nation, to make the commitment to faithfully execute the office of the president and to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. He has the complete executive power of the nation vested in him by virtue of this Constitution.
And as we progress throughout the day, I would ask that you be reminded of the importance of this oath. And before you is a copy of it, and certainly available as anyone would like to look at it on breaks.
William Jefferson Clinton is a man of great distinction. He is well educated, with degrees from Georgetown University and Yale Law School. He has taught law school courses to aspiring lawyers. He served as governor and as attorney general for the state of Arkansas, enforcing the laws of that state.
The president now directs our great nation. He sets our agenda and creates national policy in a very public way. He is in fact a role model for many.
President Clinton also serves as the nation's chief law enforcement officer. It is in this, primarily in this capacity that the president appoints federal judges. Within the executive branch, he selected Attorney General Janet Reno and appointed each of the 93 United States attorneys who are charged with enforcing all federal, civil and criminal law in federal courthouses from Anchorage, Alaska to Miami, Florida, and from San Diego, California to Bangor, Maine.
Before you we have another chart which shows the schematics of the Department of Justice and how it's under the direct control of the president through his cabinet attorney general, and then down to such functions as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Immigration, U.S. Marshal's Office, Bureau of Prisons and so many other very important legal functions this federal government performs.
As the protectors of our Constitution, the United States attorneys which he supervises through the U.S. attorney and their assistants prosecute more than 50,000 cases per year. Through these appointments and his administration's policies, the president establishes the climate in this country for law and order.
Each and every one of these 50,000 cases handled by his United States attorneys is dependent upon the parties and the witnesses telling the truth under oath. Equally as important in these proceedings is that justice not be obstructed by tampering with witnesses nor hiding evidence.
Quoting from the November 9, 1998 Constitution Subcommittee testimony of attorney Charles J. Cooper, a Washington, D.C. attorney, he states that the crimes of perjury and obstruction of justice, like the crimes of treason and bribery, are quintessentially offenses against our system of government, visiting injury immediately upon society itself, whether or not committed in connection with the exercise of official government powers.
Before the framing of our Constitution and since, our laws have consistently recognized that perjury primarily and directly injures the body politic, for it subverts the judicial process, and this strikes at the heart of the rule of law itself.
Professor Gary McDowell, the director at the Institute for United States Studies at the University of London, also testified in that same hearing and referenced the influential writer William Paley. And I have this quote also in a chart form for those of you who would like to review it later.
Paley saw the issue of oaths and perjury as one of morality as well as law. Because a witness swears that he will speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, a person under oath cannot cleverly lie and not commit perjury.
If the witness conceals any truth, Paley writes, that relates to the matter in adjudication. That is as much a violation of the oath as to testify a positive falsehood.
Shame or embarrassment cannot justify concealment of truth. Linguistic contortions with the words used cannot legitimately conceal a lie, or if under oath, perjury. And Professor McDowell concludes with a quote from Paley which accurately provides, I believe, the essence of a lie or perjurious statement: "It is willful deceit that makes the lie, and we willfully deceive where our expressions are not true in the sense in which we believe the hearer apprehends them."
Neither has the -- this United States Senate been silent on the issue of lying under oath and perjury. You have rightfully recognized through previous impeachment proceedings the unacceptable nature of a high government official lying under oath, even in matters initially arising from what some would argue here are merely personal.
In 1989, many of you present today using the very same standard, which is Section 4 of the Constitution, which is set forth there for impeaching a federal judge or the president, many of you actually voted in support of a conviction and the removal of a U.S. district judge for lying under oath.
Indeed, truth-telling is the single most important judicial precept underpinning this great system of justice we have -- a system which permits the courthouse doors to be opened to all people from the most powerful man in America to a young woman from Arkansas.
On May 6, 1994, Paula Corbin Jones attempted to open that courthouse door when she filed a federal sexual harassment lawsuit against President Clinton. The case arose from a 1991 incident when she was a state employee and, he, the governor. Further details of the underlying allegations are not important to us today, but Ms. Jones' pursuit for the truth is worth a careful study.
The parties first litigated the question of whether Ms. Jones' lawsuit would have to be deferred until after the president left office. The Supreme Court unanimously rejected the president's contention and allowed the case to proceed without further delay.
Ms. Jones sought and appropriately won her day in court. Now incumbent with this victory, however, was the reasonable expectation that the president would tell the truth.
After all, this was the most important case in the whole world to Paula Corbin Jones. Notwithstanding this, that fact didn't happen that the president told the truth.
Even after the president was ordered to stand trial, pursuing the truth for Ms. Jones remained an elusive task. The evidence will indicate that President Clinton committed perjury and orchestrated a variety of efforts to obstruct justice, all of which -- all of which -- had the effect of preventing the discovery of truth in Paula Jones' case.
During the discovery phase, Judge Susan Webber Wright of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas ordered the president to answer certain historical questions about his sexual relations with either state or federal employees.
In part, Judge Wright said: The court finds, therefore, that the plaintiff is entitled to information regarding individuals with whom the president had sexual relations or proposed or sought to have sexual relations and who were, during the relevant time frame, state or federal employees.
Judge Wright validated Mrs. -- Ms. Jones's right to use this accepted line of questioning in sexual harassment litigation.
More often than not, these cases involve or involved situations where he said, she said. They produce issues of credibility and are often done in private. Because of this, they are very difficult for a victim to prove.
Such standard questions are essential in establishing whether defendant -- the defendant has committed the same kinds of acts before or since. In other words, a pattern and practice of harassing conduct.
The existence of such corroborative evidence or the lack thereof is likely to be critical in these types of cases. Both the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines and the federal rules of evidence permit the use of this type of evidence.
In short, a defendant's sexual history, at least with respect to other employees, is ordinarily discoverable in a sexual harassment lawsuit.
To not expect a defendant in this type of litigation to speak the truth creates in its worst case a very real danger to the entire area of sexual harassment law which would be irreparably damaged, and in its best case, sends out a very wrong message.
As such, the will and intent of Congress with regard to providing protection against sexual harassment in the workplace would be effectively undermined.
The pattern and practice witnesses from Paula Corbin Jones -- whom Paula Corbin Jones was entitled to discover should have included the name of Monica Lewinsky. But before I discuss Ms. Lewinsky further, I want to offer three matters of caution to each of you as jurors in this very important matter.
Number one, I do not intend to discuss the specific details of the president's encounters with Ms. Lewinsky. However, I do not want to give the Senate the impression that those encounters are irrelevant or lack serious legal implications. In fact, every day in courtrooms all across America, victims of sexual harassment, of rape, assault, abuse -- must testify in many public cases in order to vindicate their personal rights and society's right to be free from these intolerable acts.
The president's lies about his conduct in the Oval Office with Ms. Lewinsky also make these unseemly details highly relevant. If you were to accept the president's version about the relationship, you must in effect say to Ms. Lewinsky that she is the one who is disregarding the truth.
But beyond this, his denials also directly contradict Miss Lewinsky's testimony -- or not only directly contradict Miss Lewinsky's testimony, but also contradict eight of her friends and the statements by two professional counselors with whom she contemporaneously shared details of her relationship.
By law, their testimony may serve as proper and admissible evidence to corroborate her side of this unfortunate story.
Number two, the evidence and testimony in this proceeding must be viewed as a whole. It cannot be compartmentalized. Please do not be misled into considering each event in isolation and then treating it separately.
Remember, events and words that may seem innocent or even exculpatory in a vacuum may well take on a sinister or even criminal connotation when observed in the context of the whole plot.
For example, when we all agree that Ms. Lewinsky testified quote, "No one ever told me to lie" unquote. When considered alone, this statement would seem exculpatory.
In the context of other evidence, however, we see that this one statement gives a misleading inference. Of course, no one said, now Monica, you go down there and lie.
They didn't have to. Based upon their previous spoken and even unspoken words, Ms. Lewinsky knew what was expected of her. Surely if the president were to come into the Senate floor and give testimony during this proceeding, he would not tell you that he honestly expected here to tell the truth about their personal relationship.
After all, the purpose of her filing the false affidavit was to avoid testifying in the Jones' case and discussing the nature of their relationship.
If she had told the truth in that affidavit, instead of lying, she would have been invited to testify immediately, if not sooner.
Number three, throughout our presentation of the facts especially as it relates to the various illegal acts, I ask you to pay particular attention to what I call the big picture. Look at the results of those various acts, as well as, who benefited. Please make a mental note now, if you can, and ask yourself always as you look at each one of these illegal acts that are presented to you. A, what was the result of that illegal act? And B, who benefited from that illegal act?
I believe that you will find that the evidence will show that while the president's "fingerprints" may not be directly on the evidence proving these illegal acts, the results of the acts usually inure to the benefit of the president and the president alone.
Subordinates and friends alike are drawn into this web of deceit. The president is insulated. Crimes are committed. Justice is denied. The rule of law is suspended. And this president is the beneficiary.
Some examples: one, subpoenaed evidence disappears from Ms. Lewinsky's apartment and reappears under Ms. Currie's bed. What was the result of that? Who had the benefit of that?
Two, Ms. Lewinsky files a false affidavit in the Jones case. What's the result of filing that false affidavit and who benefited from that?
Number three, the president's attorney files the Lewinsky affidavit not knowing it was false, representing to the court that, quote, "There is absolutely no sex of any kind in any manner, shape or form," unquote, while the president sits in the deposition and does not object to that -- very silently sits in the deposition. What was the result of that? And who benefited from that filing of the affidavit?
Four and finally, Ms. Lewinsky after months of job searching in New York City is offered a job with a Fortune 500 company in New York City within 48 hours of her signing this false affidavit.
Who shared the results of that with Ms. Lewinsky and who obtained the benefit of that?
Another example occurred in a meeting between the president and Ms. Lewinsky in July -- July 4, 1997 to be specific -- when as a part of their conversation she mentioned that she had heard someone from Newsweek was working on a story about Kathleen Willey.
The president had Ms. Lewinsky back for a visit on July 14, some ten days later, following his return from an overseas trip, and she was questioned about the Willey story and specifically if Linda Tripp had been her source.
Important to this point now, important to this point, the president then asked Ms. Lewinsky to try to persuade Ms. Tripp to call White House counsel -- legal counsel Bruce Lindsey. The president told her to notify Ms. Currie the following day, quote, "Without getting into the details with her, even mentioning names with her," unquote, whether Ms. Currie had, quote, "Mission accomplished," with Linda.
And as you will learn from Mr. Hutchinson, who will follow me with his presentation, this is very similar to the method of operation with another job the president requested be done, which in that case succeeded with a, quote, "Mission accomplished," unquote.
And I ask you to watch for that in Mr. Hutchinson's presentation.
I want to now rewind the clock back to November of 1995. We are here in Washington where Ms. Lewinsky has been working at the White House since July of 1995. As you continue to listen to the evidence, from this point on November the 15th forward, remember that Ms. Lewinsky and the president were alone in the Oval Office workplace area at least 21 times. And I have listed these in chart form beginning again in November of 1995 and going through into '96 and into the early part of 1997, or continue through the year.
During that time they had at least 11 of the so-called salacious encounters there in the workplace at various times during the day and night, three in 1995, five in 1996 and three in 1997.
They also had in excess of 50 telephone conversations, most of which appeared to have been telephone calls to and from Ms. Lewinsky's home. And I have scheduled all of these telephone calls to show you the 50-plus telephone calls.
Also, they exchange -- exchanged some 64 gifts, with the president receiving 40 of these gifts and Ms. Lewinsky receiving 24 of these gifts. And again, we have charts that reflect the receipt of both sets of gifts.
And again, these charts will be here in the front, always available for your inspection. We also know that their affair began on November 15th. Interestingly, there's even a conflict here with the president.
According to Ms. Lewinsky, they had never spoken to each other up to that point. Yet, he asked this unknown intern into the private area of his office that day, the Oval Office, and kissed her.
He then invited her back to return later that day when the two engaged in the first of these 11 acts of misconduct.
Now the contradiction is -- in the statement that the president relied upon in his grand jury testimony that has been referenced earlier, very carefully worded. In that statement, the president gave his testimony before the grand jury about meeting in this relationship. And he says: "I regret that what began as a friendship came to include this conduct." Almost as if, it had evolved over a period of time. So, there is very clearly a conflict there.
As Ms. Lewinsky's internship was ending that year, she did apply for and receive a paying job with the White House Office of Legislative Affairs. This position allowed her even more access to the Oval Office area. She remained a White House employee until April, 1996 when she was reassigned to the Pentagon. The proof would show that Ms. Evelyn Lieberman, deputy chief of staff at the time believed that the transfer was necessary because Ms. Lewinsky was so persistent in her efforts to be near the president.
Although Ms. Lieberman could not recall having heard any rumors linking her and the president, she acknowledged that the president was vulnerable to these kinds of rumors.
While Ms. Lewinsky tried to return to work in the White House, her absence was appreciated by those on the president's staff who wanted to protect him.
After she began her job at the Pentagon in April, there was no further physical contact with the president through the 1996 election and the remainder of that year. The two communicated by telephone and occasionally saw each other at public events. Their only attempt at a private visit in the Oval Office was thwarted because Ms. Lieberman was nearby.
On December the 17th, she attended a holiday celebration at the White House and had a photograph made shaking hands with the president. However, the evidence establishes that in 1997, Ms. Lewinsky was more successful in arranging visits to the White House. This was because she used the discreet assistance of Ms. Currie, the president's secretary, to avoid the likes of Ms. Lieberman.
Ms. Currie indicated that she did not want to know the details of this relationship. Ms. Currie testified that on one occasion when Ms. Lewinsky told her quote, "as long as no one saw us and no one did, then nothing happened," unquote, Mr. Currie responded, quote "don't want to hear it; don't say anymore; I don't want to hear anymore." unquote.
Early on during their secret liaisons, the two had concocted a cover story to use if discovered. Ms. Lewinsky was to say that she was bringing papers to the president. The evidence will show this statement to be false. The only papers that she ever brought were personal messages having nothing to do with her duties or the president's.
The cover story plays an important role in the later perjuries and obstruction of justice. Ms. Lewinsky stated that the president did not expressly instruct her to lie.
He did, however, suggest misleading -- the misleading cover story, and when she assured him that she planned to lie about that relationship, he responded approvingly. On the frequent occasions that she promised that she would always deny the relationship and always protect him, for example, the president responded, in her recollection -- that's good, or something affirmative -- not, don't deny it.
The evidence will establish further that the two of them had, in her words, a mutual understanding that they would keep this private -- so that meant deny it -- and take whatever appropriate steps needed to be taken.
When she and the president both were subpoenaed in the Jones case, Ms. Lewinsky anticipated that, as we had on every other occasion and every instance of this relationship, we would deny it.
In his grand jury testimony, President Clinton acknowledged that he and Miss Lewinsky might have talked about what to do in a non-legal context to hide their relationship, and that he might have said that Miss Lewinsky should tell people that she was bringing letters to him or coming to visit Mrs. Currie -- Miss Currie.
But he always stated that, "I never asked Miss Lewinsky to lie." But neither did the president ever say that they must now tell the truth under oath. To the contrary, as Miss Lewinsky stated, "It wasn't as if the president called me and said, you know, Monica, you're on the witness list, and this is going to be really hard for us. We're going to have to tell the truth and be humiliated in front of the entire world about what we've done, which I would have fought him on probably," she said. That was different.
"And by not calling me and saying that, you know, I knew what that meant," according to Monica Lewinsky.
In a later -- in a related but later incident that Mr. Hutchinson may refer to, Monica Lewinsky testified that President Clinton telephoned her at home around two to three o'clock one morning on December the 17th, 1997, 2:00 to 2:30 a.m.
He told her that her name was on the list of possible witnesses to be called in the Paula Jones lawsuit. When asked what to do if she was subpoenaed, the president suggested that she could sign an affidavit.
Miss Lewinsky indicated that she was 100 percent sure that he had suggested that she might want to sign an affidavit. And she understood his advice to mean that she might be able to execute an affidavit that would not disclose the true relationship.
And when Miss Lewinsky agreed to that false affidavit, she told the president by telephone that she would be signing it and asking if he wanted to see it before she signed it. According to Miss Lewinsky, the president responded that he did not, as he had already seen about 15 others.
Concurrent with these events I've just described, the evidence will further demonstrate that as Ms. Lewinsky attempted to return to work at the White House after the 1996 elections, she spoke with the president. According to Betty Currie, the president instructed Betty Currie and Marsha Scott, the deputy director of personnel, to assist in her return to the White House.
In the spring of 1997, Ms. Lewinsky met with Ms. Scott. She complained with subsequent notes to Ms. Scott and to the president about no progress being made with her getting back to the White House. On July 3, of that year, she dispatched a more formal letter to the president. In fact, using the salutation, dear sir. And raising the possible threat that she might have to tell her parents about why she no longer had a job at the White House, if she didn't get another job.
She also indicated her possible interest with a job in New York at the United Nations. The president and Ms. Lewinsky met the next day in what Ms. Lewinsky characterized as a very emotional visit including the president scolding her that it was illegal to threaten the president of the United States.
Their conversation eventually moved on to other topics though -- primarily her complaints about his failure to get her a job at the White House.
Continuing Ms. Lewinsky's effort to return to work near the president, there was a July 16 meeting and a September 3 telephone call with Ms. Scott. On the evening of September 30, the president advised Ms. Lewinsky that he would have Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles help in the job search, and Bowles later passed this on to John Podesta, although each recall their involvement occurring earlier in the year.
Just a few days later, however, her hopes of a job at the White House quickly ended. On October the 6th, she had a conversation with Linda Tripp who told her that she would never return to work at the White House, and this was according to a friend of hers on the staff.
Learning this secondhand was, according to Ms. Lewinsky, the straw that broke the camel's back. She decided to ask the president for a job in New York with the United Nations and sent him a letter to that effect on October the 7th.
During an October 11 meeting with the president, she suggested -- he suggested that she give him a list of New York companies which interested her. She asked if Vernon Jordan might also help her. Five days later, she provided the president with her wish list and indicated that she was no longer interested in the UN position, although she did receive an offer on November the 24th and declined it on January the 5th, 1998.
After this meeting with the president, arrangements were made through the president for Ms. Lewinsky to meet Mr. Jordan. On the morning of November 5, 1997, Mr. Jordan spoke by telephone with the president for about five minutes, and later met with Ms. Lewinsky for the first time for about 20 minutes.
According to Ms. Lewinsky, Mr. Jordan told her that he had spoken with the president, that she came highly recommended, and that quote "we're in business." unquote. However, the evidence reflects that Mr. Jordan took no steps to help Ms. Lewinsky until early December of that year, after she appeared on the witness list in the Jones case.
Actually, Mr. Jordan testified in his grand jury testimony that he had no recollection of even having met Ms. Lewinsky on November 5, and when he was shown documentary evidence demonstrating that his first meeting with Ms. Lewinsky occurred then, he acknowledged that such a meeting was entirely possible.
So you can see that was not indeed a high priority for Mr. Jordan at that time until December.
For many months Miss Lewinsky had not been able to find a job to her satisfaction, even without the perceived help of various people. Then in December of 1997, something happened which caused those interested in finding Miss Lewinsky a job in New York to intensify their search.
Within 48 hours of her signing this false affidavit in the Paul Jones case, Miss Lewinsky had landed a job with a prestigious Fortune 500 company.
It is anticipated that the attorneys for the president will present arguments which will contest much of the relationship with Monica Lewinsky. The president has maintained throughout the last several months that while there was no sexual relationship or sexual affair, in fact there was some type of inappropriate intimate contact with her.
What has now been dubbed as legal gymnastics on the part of the president has made its appearance. Other examples followed. Within his definition of the word "alone," he denies being alone with Miss Lewinsky at any time in the Oval Office.
He also questions the definition of the word "is," and it depends on what the word "is" means in how you answer a particular question.
Further we would expect the president to continue to disavow knowledge of why evidence detrimental to his defense in the Jones case was removed from Ms. Lewinsky's apartment and hidden beneath Ms. Currie's bed; or knowledge of how Ms. Lewinsky found herself with employment -- with an employment offer in New York virtually at the same time she finally executed an affidavit in the Jones case.
Unfortunately, for your search for the truth in these proceedings, the president continues today to parse his words and use legal hair-splitting in his defense. I cite for your consideration, his answer filed with this body just days ago.
For instance, one, responding in part to the impeachment Article I, the president persists in a wrong-headed fashion with his legal hairsplitting of the term sexual relations which permits him to define that term in such a way that in the particular salacious act that we're talking about here, one person has sex and the other person does not.
As a graduate of one of the finest law schools in America and as a former law professor and attorney general for the state of Arkansas, the president knows better.
Number two -- and I have this state here -- this statement here extracted out of the president's answer to this proceeding. Responding to both articles of impeachment, one and two, the president now would have you to believe that he was not focusing -- the quote was "not focusing" when his attorney, Bob Bennett, was objecting during the deposition and attempting to cut off a very important line of questioning to the president, by representing to Judge Wright that Ms. Lewinsky's affidavit proved that there is no need to go into this testimony about the president's life. This affidavit proves there is absolutely no sex of any kind in any manner, shape or form. And remember, this is the same president who now pleads he lost his focus during this very important part of this deposition.
This is the very same president who is renowned for his intelligence and his ability to compartmentalize, to concentrate, to focus on whatever matter is at hand.
And now, he comes before this Senate to each one of you in his answer, by and through his attorneys and pleads that he simply wasn't paying attention at this very important part, during his own deposition.
In Tennessee we have a saying for situations like that -- it's, that dog won't hunt.
Number three, in further response to Article I, which the president effectively admits -- he effectively admits his guilt to obstruction, as I read this.
His pleadings refer to the president himself, and he states, "He" -- the president -- "truthfully explained to the grand jury his efforts to answer the questions in the Jones deposition without disclosing his relationship with Ms. Lewinsky."
So he says, I did explain in the deposition my relationship, but without explaining my -- I did, I did answer the questions in the Jones deposition in a way so as not to disclose my relationship with Ms. Lewinsky.
Then at the bottom of the same page, he says that -- he denies that he attempted to impede the discovery of evidence in the Jones case. Now think about this with me a minute. The purpose of the -- basically, the purpose of the Jones deposition of the president was to secure truthful testimony about these kinds of pattern-and-practice witnesses, and therein discover the likes of Monica Lewinsky. That's the purpose of being there.
And the president has just admitted in his answer that he purposely answered questions so as not to disclose his relationship with Ms. Lewinsky.
Said another way, he intentionally answered questions to avoid the discovery of one of his female employees with whom he was sexually involved. And that is precisely, folks, that's precisely what impeding the discovery of evidence is. So, I'd asked you to, if you've get an opportunity, to look at that very closely.
Number four, in his answer to Article II, the president denies that he encouraged Monica Lewinsky to execute a false affidavit in the Jones case.
When everything is said and done, Ms. Lewinsky had no motivation, had no reason whatsoever to want to commit a crime by willfully submitting a false affidavit with a court of law. She really did not need to do this at that point in her life.
But this twenty-something young lady was listening to the most powerful man in the United States, a man she greatly admired, and hearing him effectively instruct her to file a false affidavit to avoid having to testify about their relationship, and in order to do that she had to lie about the physical aspects of their relationship.
According to her, the president didn't even want to see that actual affidavit because he had seen 15 more just like it, and as such knew it would be right.
Number five, in addition -- in an additional response to Article II, the president answers and asserts that he, quote "believed that Ms. Lewinsky could have filed a limited, but truthful affidavit, that might have enabled her to avoid having to testify in the Jones case."
Now, that is an incredible statement. That is an incredible statement, given the fact that the president knew first-hand of the extent of their sexual relationship, and he also knew that the Jones discovery efforts were specifically after that type of conduct. Even with the best of legal hair-splitting, it's still difficult to envision a truthful affidavit from Ms. Lewinsky which could have skirted the issue enough to avoid testifying.
And if you really believe the president had this belief, don't you think he would have accepted Ms. Lewinsky's offer to review her affidavit and perhaps share this bit of wisdom he had with her before she signed it and lied? After all, in this answer he's just filed, he says he had an out for her. He had a way for her to have the best of both worlds -- not to have to lie and still avoid testifying in the Jones case. Why didn't he share that with her when she gave him the opportunity, if he in fact had such an idea in those days? I suggest to you that perhaps that's a recent idea.
But even if for some reason you don't believe Ms. Lewinsky offered to share that affidavit with him, don't you think it still would have been in the president's best interest to give Ms. Lewinsky his thoughts before she violated the law with a completely false affidavit.
Now, indeed, is the time to stop the legal gymnastics and the legal hair-splitting and to deal with these charges and these facts appropriately.
As a House manager, I believe that I can speak for all of us out of a sense of fairness and again that request that we and the president be permitted to call witnesses.
I would submit that that the state of the evidence is such that, unless and until the president has the opportunity to confront and cross examine witnesses like Ms. Lewinsky and himself to testify, if he desires, there can be no -- there can be any -- there can not be any doubt of his guilt on the facts.
A reasonable and impartial review of this record, as it presently exists, demands nothing less than a guilty verdict. And while it's been the consistent defense of the White House to be inconsistent, it still comes as something of a surprise that the president has not made a stronger case for calling witnesses.
Before now, he has aggressively sought the opportunity to challenge the truth and the veracity of witnesses in these impeachment proceedings. During the hearings in the House, which many believe are analogous to grand jury proceeding, the president's defenders and his attorneys consistently complained of the failure to call witnesses and the lack of fairness and due process.
Almost every day there were partisan attacks from the White House and its emissaries who were dispatched throughout the media talk shows with the same complaints of no witnesses.
And always, our measured response was a calm assurance that there would be witnesses called during the trial phase in the Senate. Is there any doubt that our forefathers intended a two-step impeachment proceeding? The House would function as the grand jury and determine whether to charge to impeach. Then you, as the trier of fact, would function as the jury to try the case and weigh the testimony and the credibility of the fact witnesses.
In recent days, some have publicly asserted that the House was hypocritical or is hypocritical because we didn't call some of the fact witnesses it now (ph) asked to call in the Senate -- we asked to call in the Senate.
For the record, it must be noted that the House Judiciary Committee out of an abundance of fairness, did allow the president's defense team 30 hours in which to present any witnesses they could have chosen and they could have examined.
But any allegation of hypocrisy certainly appears to miss the point that the writers of our Constitution never contemplated two separate trials for an impeachment proceeding. But now, we would respectfully request, is the time -- or suggest, is the time for witnesses.
All Americans, including the president, are entitled to enjoy a private family life free from public or governmental scrutiny. But the privacy concerns raised in this case are subject to limits. And three of these I will briefly discuss.
First, the first limit was imposed when the president was sued in federal court for alleged sexual harassment. The evidence in such litigation is often personal. At times, that evidence is highly embarrassing for both the plaintiff and the defendant.
As Judge Wright noted at the president's January, 1998 deposition, I have never had a sexual harassment case where there has not been some embarrassment. Nevertheless, Congress and the Supreme Court have concluded that embarrassment-related concerns must give way to the greater interest in allowing aggrieved parties to pursue their claims. Courts have long recognized the difficulties of proving sexual harassment in the work place. Inasmuch as improper and unlawful behavior often takes place in private.
To excuse a party who lied or concealed evidence on the ground that the evidence covered only personal or private behavior would frustrate the goals that Congress and the courts have sought to achieve in enacting and interpreting the nation's sexual harassment laws.
That is particularly true when the conduct that is being concealed -- sexual relationship in the workplace between a high official and a young, subordinate employee -- itself conflicts with these goals.
Second. The second limit was imposed when Judge Wright required disclosure of the precise information that is in part the subject of this hearing today. A federal judge specifically ordered the president on more than one occasion to provide requested information about relationships with other women, including Miss Lewinsky.
The fact that Judge Wright later determined the evidence would not be admissible at the trial, or still later granted judgment in the president's favor, does not change the president's legal duty at the time he testified.
Like every litigant, the president is entitled to object to discovery questions and to seek guidance from the court if he thought those questions were improper. But having failed to convince the court that his objections were well founded, the president was duty bound to testify truthfully and to testify fully.
Perjury and attempts to obstruct the gathering of evidence can never be an acceptable response to a court order, regardless of the eventual course or outcome of that litigation.
The Supreme Court has spoken forcefully about perjury and other forms of obstruction of justice. Quote: "In this constitutional process of securing a witness' testimony, perjury simply has no place whatsoever. Perjured testimony is an obvious and flagrant affront to the basic concepts of judicial proceedings. Effective restraints against this type of egregious offense are therefore imperative."
The insidious effects of perjury occur whether the case is civil or criminal. Only a few years ago the Supreme Court considered a false statement made in a civil administrative proceeding, quote: "False testimony in a formal proceeding is intolerable. We must neither reward nor condone such a flagrant affront to the truth- seeking function of adversary proceedings. Perjury should be severely sanctioned in appropriate cases."
Stated more simply, perjury is an obstruction of justice.
Third and final, the third limit is unique to the president. The presidency is more than an executive responsibility. It is the inspiring symbol of all that is highest in America in purpose and ideals. As the head of the executive branch, the president has the constitutional duty to take care that the laws are faithfully enforced and executed.
The president gave his testimony in the Jones case under oath and in the presence of a federal judge, a member of a co-equal branch of government. He then testified before a federal grand jury -- a body of citizens who had themselves taken an oath to seek the truth.
In view of the enormous trust and responsibility attendant to this high office, the president has a manifest duty to ensure that his conduct at all times complies with the law of the land.
In sum, perjury and acts that obstruct justice by any citizen, whether in a criminal case, a grand jury investigation, a congressional hearing, a civil trial, a civil discovery proceeding, are profoundly serious matters. When such acts are committed by the president of the United States, those acts are grounds for conviction and removal from office.
SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MISSISSIPPI): Mr. Chief Justice.
REHNQUIST: The chair recognizes the majority leader.
LOTT: I ask unanimous consent that there now be a recess of the proceedings for 15 minutes.
REHNQUIST: In the absence of objection ...
BRYANT: Mr. Chief Justice, I have just about one minute and I'll be concluded.
LOTT: I withhold my request.
REHNQUIST: Very well.
BRYANT: Thank you, Mr. Leader.
As I reach the conclusion of my presentation, the time line is now in December of 1997. Following her November 5 meeting with Mr. Jordan, Ms. Lewinsky had no communication with him or the president for a month. Then in early December, 1997, the parties in the Jones case exchanged witness lists and Ms. Lewinsky was scheduled as a potential witness by the Jones attorneys. One or about that same day, Ms. Lewinsky attempted to make an uninvited visit to the White House, and later that day was allowed in by the president. But it was during this time in December of 1997 that some of the seams began to unravel for the president.
I will conclude my remarks at this point, and thank the chief justice and the members of the Senate for their careful attention. My colleague from Arkansas, Mr. Hutchinson, will follow me now, or at the end of any recess as may be necessary.
REHNQUIST: The chair recognizes the majority leader.
LOTT: (OFF-MIKE) the manager for the interruption right at the end of his remarks, but I renew my request -- unanimous consent to take a 15 minute break in the proceedings at this point.
REHNQUIST: In the absence of objection, it's so ordered.
Thursday January 14, 1999
Jurors give mixed reviews to House case
Senate struggle over witness testimony continues
Mood on Hill businesslike as prosecutors begin case against Clinton
Starr will watch trial, won't comment on procedures
Document: House managers' rebuttal memo
Clinton proposes billions more to boost police numbers
Study: Most former Wisconsin welfare recipients now working
Powell comfortable with opting out
Trial will infringe on Sabbath observance for Lieberman
U.S. Justice may meet Pollard representatives
Lawyers fight over Clinton-Jones check
Bipartisan panel urges overhaul of veterans programs