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Text of Sen. Harkin's letter to Rehnquist

January 23, 1999
Web posted at: 6:06 p.m. EDT (1806 GMT)

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, January 23) -- Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) appealed Saturday to Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who is presiding over the impeachment trial, to stop the debriefing of Monica Lewinsky by House prosecutors. Below is the text of Harkin's letter:

Dear Mr. Chief Justice:

I am writing you on a matter of significant constitutional consequence. I ask you, as presiding officer of this Court of Impeachment, to issue an order in protection of this court's "sole power to try impeachment" to prohibit any questioning by or on behalf of the House Managers of any witness pursuant to the January 23, 1999, order of the District Court Judge Norma Holloway Johnson. Such questioning would violate the Senate's sole authority under Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution to try impeachments and would be a clear violation of the procedures adopted unanimously by this Senate for the conduct of this trial. It is up to the Senate, not the Independent Counsel or any Article III district judge, to determine the procedures under which the House Managers or White House Counsel may interview witnesses.

In support of my request, I cite the Supreme Court's opinion in U.S. v. Nixon, wherein the Supreme Court held, and I quote: "The first sentence in Article I, Section 3 is a grant of authority to the Senate, and the word 'sole' indicates that this authority is reposed in the Senate and nowhere else. ...Judicial involvement in impeachment proceedings, even if only for purposes of judicial review, is counterintuitive because it would eviscerate the 'important constitutional check' placed on the Judiciary by the Framers."

As the Independent Counsel may be interviewing Ms. Lewinsky as early as tomorrow morning, I ask that you give prompt consideration of this matter. Thank you for your consideration of my request.

Sincerely,

Tom Harkin

United States Senator


Investigating the President

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Saturday, January 23, 1999

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