Sen. Mack's closed-door impeachment statement
Released into Congressional Record, February 12, 1999
Sen. Connie Mack (R-Florida): Mr. Chief Justice, today the Senate finds itself at an unlikely crossroads in American history. We have assembled as a court of impeachment to sit in judgement of our President, William Jefferson Clinton, on the charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. We have worked our will in this matter according to a process rooted in English common law, written by our Founders into the Constitution, and exercised against the Chief Executive only once before in American history.
This is not a task to be taken lightly, and we have not arrived easily at our decision. The Senate today is engaged in weighty struggles that go to the very heart of our private and public lives. We are at an unlikely juncture between principle and public opinion, repentance and the rule of law, perception and punishment, forgiveness and findings of fact. These are difficult issues, Mr. Chief Justice. We approach our task fully aware that our decisions today will reverberate across this great land and throughout the length and breadth of history.
There has been much discussion about how we got here. And while the answer to that question may be varied in all its permutations, then amplified in the echo-chamber that is our modern public debate, it can be said with assurance that this whole unseemly business began when the President, caught in an improper private act, took deliberate steps to conceal it. And for all the other parties blamed for our presence here today--the media, the independent counsel, the political factions opposed to the President, the House of Representatives--it must be clearly understood that this process began with the deliberate and wilful acts of the President of the United States to lie in a Supreme Court sanctioned civil rights inquiry and obstruct the due course of justice. It all started with the high-handed disregard for the law exhibited by the nation's Chief Executive. It ends today.
Mr. Chief Justice, when the sound and fury of the moment has passed, and this episode can be observed with the objectivity that comes with the passage of time, I believe it will be self-evident that we have followed the Constitution to the best of our abilities. In a free, democratic society such as ours, the foundation of freedom is an independent judiciary, the rule of law, and most importantly the Constitution. Our Constitution is the framework for American society, and I have been constantly reminded throughout these proceedings of the importance of our duty to honor the dignity of this document.
The magnitude of this undertaking deserves no less than a sincerity of purpose and an absolute confidence in the wisdom of our Founders. The American people should not be swayed by those who argue the prominence of this case--in all its tawdry and unseemly detail--has made unnecessary a thorough process of determining the truth. We stand in judgement of the President. Our decisions will be remembered throughout history. Our precedent may be followed by future Senates. Yet, still we have heard throughout this exercise the unfortunate call to end these proceedings, save a few weeks, and inject the politics of expediency into a monumental Constitutional undertaking. I find these arguments display a remarkable lack of confidence in the sound and just system outlined by our Founders to address very serious charges levied against the President of the United States.
I am grateful the Senate rejected those calls and put in place a responsible mechanism for the thorough airing of fact and argument. I am confident our process during this trial, though far from perfect, was appropriate. We allowed time for detailed presentations on the part of the House of Representatives and the President. We held an extensive question-and-answer session to review and clarify matters presented by both sides. And we have allowed for the appropriate and necessary deposition of key witnesses. Unfortunately, the simple fact is that the outcome of this matter was, in many minds, predetermined. In spite of this, the integrity of the process was, time and again, fought for and protected. Now--today-- it only remains for us to cast our votes.
I wish to address my remarks not so much to the people listening in this room today, but rather to those future generations who will look back at the record and transcripts for guidance, direction, and a more thorough understanding of the process that played out in this chamber during the first two months of 1999. I mentioned earlier the significance of the Constitution. I cannot stress enough the essential role that this historical document has played in the trial of William Jefferson Clinton. This document laid the framework for what has taken place. Be it understood, the Senate tried the President because the Constitution requires that we do so. There is no exception for popular Presidents, such as William Jefferson Clinton. The Constitution provides for this process to be applied to everyone evenhandedly.
Although the trial of this President was not a trial in the traditional sense, it is important to note that if the impeachment of a President presents itself again, there is nothing restricting a more traditional trial from occurring. In fact, I would encourage future Senates to utilize a judicial proceeding more closely aligned to a typical courtroom trial. Every impeachment trial will have its own dynamic environment, determined by the political and social context in which it occurs. The
trial of William Jefferson Clinton occurred in a prosperous time. The citizens of this nation are largely satisfied, the President enjoys consistently high approval ratings, and the economy is outstanding. Impeaching and then trying the President has not engendered popular public support. I make these observations for future generations who reflect on this process simply to explain the mood of our nation and the political environment in which this proceeding occurred. As a result, we should not deceive ourselves into believing that public opinion did not impact this process. I would like to believe, however, that the competing demands of expediting the process versus honoring our Constitutional duties created a struggle that produced the most fair trial possible under the circumstances. Accordingly, the process we followed and the rules complied with may not be appropriate for the next trial. The decisions made in this environment should not be considered to set precedent that is inflexible. In fact, the precedent we set deserves thoughtful consideration and reasoned critique when reflected upon in the years and decades to come.
In that light, our official duties in this matter began on December 19, 1998, when the United States House of Representatives impeached the President, William Jefferson Clinton. After listening to the evidence, reading the trial memorandums and the record, and carefully considering the arguments presented by both the House Managers and White House counsel, I believe the President is guilty of both articles.
Before I address the merits of the case against the President, I think it is necessary to discuss whether the crimes of perjury and obstruction of justice constitute high crimes and misdemeanors as contemplated by the Framers of our Constitution. This topic has been the subject of much controversy in the past months.
It is true that private acts are the genesis of the matter before us. Had the acts stayed private, we would not be here today. The President, however, brought these private acts under our public purview and created a matter of public concern when he used his position and his power to deny and obstruct the civil rights of Paula Jones.
Contrary to what has been asserted, this is not just a case about a sexual encounter between the President and a young White House intern. This instead is a case about depriving Paula Jones, an individual who sought and was granted the right to file a civil rights action against the President, of her constitutional right to a day in court, a right which nine justices of the Supreme Court unanimously decided that she deserved. And--almost unbelievably--on the heels of this Supreme Court mandate, the President seemed to strengthen his efforts to deny Paula Jones' civil rights. Once these acts moved into the public arena, forming the basis for charges as serious as perjury and obstruction of justice, it is my opinion these acts became high crimes and misdemeanors as envisioned by our Founders. While our only precedent involves the impeachments of federal judges, I am satisfied the standards used in these cases also apply to the charges levied against the President.
The President of the United States is the head of the Executive Branch and the Chief Law Enforcement Officer of this nation. When the Founding Fathers established our tripartite system of government, it was decided that the three branches of government would operate as checks and balances on one another. As a result, no branch would be more powerful than the other. This structure is at the very core of our success as a Republic.
By obstructing justice and lying under oath, William Jefferson Clinton violated his duty as Chief Law Enforcement Officer, disrespected the Judicial Branch of the government, and undermined the foundations of our judicial system's truth-seeking process. If I were to determine that the President's actions did not constitute high crimes and misdemeanors, I would be asserting that the Executive Branch and the Office of the Presidency are more important than the Judicial Branch, and that the President of the United States is not obligated to abide by the rule of law. As a citizen and as a Senator, I cannot, in good faith, ignore the separation of powers argument. In my view, the President's conduct was in violation of the rule of law and his actions have betrayed the trust of the people of the United States. It is my firm belief that the serious offenses committed by William Jefferson Clinton are high crimes and misdemeanors and warrant impeachment, conviction, and removal from office.
Amazingly, we continue to hear the argument that although the President's actions rise to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors, he should not be removed from office. The Constitution provides if a President is found guilty of high crimes, then he is automatically removed from office. Our Constitution does not allow for finding the President guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors, and then permitting him to stay in office. Only an amendment to the Constitution would make such a step permissible.
There were several points during the trial of the President when I had a visceral reaction to certain charges raised by the House Managers. This reaction occurred, each time, at precisely the point when the Managers discussed the President's strategy to attack the character of Monica Lewinsky, Kathleen Willey and others. The callous disregard for the soul of another human being and the unsympathetic wounding of the character of another carried out by the President using the apparatus of the Presidency is chilling and deserves condemnation by
those who cherish freedom.
Before I proceed to my view of the specific articles, it may help to explain that I approach this process unencumbered by a law degree. While that in no way gives me license to disregard the legal aspects of the matter before me, it does permit me to translate legal concepts into layman's terms. As I worked my way through the voluminous record and sat through days of the trial, I found it easiest to understand this case if I approached it in chronological order. Given that, I will discuss the Obstruction of Justice count first, because in the course of this tragic series of events, I believe the President started down this slippery slope by the actions he took, as opposed to the words he spoke. Sadly, the words, uttered under an oath to tell the truth, came later.
OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE
I view obstruction of justice, in its most simple terms, as actions that somehow interfere with the fact-finding or truth-seeking mission of a lawsuit. The record before us is replete with examples which, in my opinion, prove that the President of the United States intended to, and did in fact, obstruct justice. Specifically, I believe the President obstructed justice by corruptly engaging in, encouraging, and supporting a scheme to conceal evidence that had been subpoenaed in the Jones case; by encouraging Ms. Lewinsky to file a false affidavit in the Jones case; by allowing his attorney to make false and misleading statements to a federal court judge; by relating false and misleading statements to Ms. Currie and presidential aides in order to influence their testimony; and by intensifying and succeeding in an effort to secure job assistance for Ms. Lewinsky in order to encourage her to testify favorably toward the President in the Jones case.
I believe the first example of obstruction occurred when the President was issued a subpoena in the Paula Jones case. This case was a federal civil rights action in which the President was sued for sexual harassment, hostile work environment harassment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. As part of the discovery process in the Jones case, subpoenas were issued to several former state and federal employees suspected of having sexual relations with the President. Included in these was a subpoena which requested the President to produce the gifts he had received from Monica Lewinsky. This request was denied by the President on five different occasions, as ultimately five separate subpoenas were issued. As a last resort, Judge Wright granted Paula Jones' motion to compel the President to produce gifts. The President, however, still did not turn over the gifts and instead replied that he had none. The President's unwillingness to comply is ironic given that later--in his grand jury testimony--he stated that he receives and gives hundreds of gifts a year, and that the whole gift-giving concept is inconsequential to him. The President's behavior belies his testimony.
The gift concealment continued beyond the President refusing to turn over the presents Ms. Lewinsky gave him. Ms. Lewinsky was also subpoenaed in the Jones case and was asked to turn over gifts the President had given to her. According to Ms. Lewinsky, when she suggested to the President that the gifts be hidden, he responded that he would have to 'think about it.' I am aware that the record does not reflect a specific directive by the President to Ms. Lewinsky to hide the gifts. My reading of the record and my interpretation of the evidence, however, leads me to the inescapable conclusion that the Chief Law Enforcement Officer of the country, and a well-educated lawyer to boot, did not fulfill his duty to turn gifts over himself and did not abide by his duty again when Ms. Lewinsky asked him what she should do with her gifts.
There is some confusion over exactly how the President's secretary, Ms. Currie, came to be in possession of the gifts that the President gave Ms. Lewinsky. I find it compelling, however, that when the President and Ms. Lewinsky met on the morning of December 28, Ms. Lewinsky suggested that the gifts the President had given to her should be hidden. A few hours later phone calls were made from Ms. Currie to Ms. Lewinsky. On that same afternoon, Ms. Currie arrived at Ms. Lewinsky's residence to pick up the gifts, and ultimately, the gifts were found under Ms. Currie's bed. In my view, this is sufficient evidence to connect the President's involvement with the gift concealment. I find it hard to believe that Ms. Currie would on her own, without influence from the President, decide to hide Ms. Lewinsky's gifts.
As an aside, I feel compelled to point out a pattern that seems to have evolved during this administration. The hiding of evidence in a personal residence harks back to the mysterious reappearance of the Whitewater billing records in the White House residence several years ago. There seems, in my mind, a proclivity on the part of the President to cause the disappearance of key evidence whenever wrongdoing is alleged. Hence, gifts under the bed equate to billing records in the White House residence.
In view of the President's actions up to this point, I am convinced the President was involved in Ms. Currie's receipt of the gifts. The simple truth is that, in spite of repeated requests, the gifts the President received were never produced and only some of the gifts given to Ms. Lewinsky were produced. In my view, it was no accident that gifts which were not handed over were instead hidden beneath the President's secretary's bed.
As the Jones case progressed, so did the President's determination to obstruct justice. As fate would have it, Monica Lewinsky was named as a witness in the
civil rights action. Upset and scared, the President suggested to Ms. Lewinsky that if she were subpoenaed she could file an affidavit in an effort to avoid testifying in a deposition. Ms. Lewinsky did in fact file an affidavit. The affidavit was claimed by the President to be truthful because of what Ms. Lewinsky understood 'sexual relations' to mean at that time.
While the President maintains the truth of the affidavit even until this day, Ms. Lewinsky testified before the grand jury that, in fact, it was not a truthful affidavit. Specifically, she testified before the grand jury that she was willing to submit a false affidavit under the penalty of perjury because she did not think that her affair with the President was anyone's business. I assume that we would still not have Ms. Lewinsky's admission that the affidavit was false, but for the fact that she was in fear of being prosecuted for perjury herself.
I think the President's behavior in regard to the affidavit of Ms. Lewinsky fits squarely in the definition of obstruction of justice. I am not impressed with the President's argument that this conduct became 'irrelevant' when Judge Wright later determined that the Lewinsky matter was not essential to the Jones lawsuit.
On the contrary, I am compelled by the fact that when the President was weaving this contorted web, it was his clear intent to conceal his relationship with Ms. Lewinsky. At the time the Lewinsky affidavit was prepared, the President could not have known Judge Wright would later determine that the Lewinsky matter was unrelated to the Jones lawsuit due to the consensual nature of the President and Ms. Lewinsky's relationship. Rather, the President was making every effort to see that nothing about his relationship with Ms. Lewinsky was disclosed.
The next crucial event arrived on the day of the President's deposition in the Jones case. At the deposition, the President's attorney, Bob Bennett, stated that Ms. Lewinsky's affidavit was true. Specifically, Mr. Bennett stated that 'there is no sex of any kind, shape, or form.' The President claims, not surprisingly, that he was not paying attention when his attorney made these statements, and in addition, that the Lewinsky affidavit was technically true because the word 'is' means 'at this time.'
My review of the President's videotaped testimony leads me to believe the President was paying attention to Mr. Bennett. When watching the videotape, it is apparent to me the President's attention is riveted on every person who speaks. He is attentive and his eyes track the speakers as they engage in dialogue. I believe the President purposely allowed Mr. Bennett to mislead the court. Part of the record before us includes a letter from Mr. Bennett asking the trial court not to rely on the affidavit or his comments regarding the document. Thus, it appears Mr. Bennett also believed that the President allowed him to mislead the court.
Moreover, I am not persuaded by the President's argument that the affidavit was technically true because 'is' means 'at this time.' I am offended by the President's lack of respect for the truth-seeking process our justice system is designed to foster and protect. Indeed, I am disturbed that the President would attempt to manipulate each and every word. To take the President's interpretation of 'is' to its logical conclusion that nothing was occurring at that very minute is ridiculous.
Clearly, things did not go well at the Jones deposition. In fact, the President admitted later in his grand jury testimony that he was surprised by the depth of the inquiry regarding Monica Lewinsky. This probing questioning made the President increasingly desperate. On Saturday, after the President's deposition, he called his secretary, Ms. Currie, and asked her to come to the White House the following day. Both the President and Ms. Currie testified that such a Sunday meeting was out of the ordinary. When Ms. Currie arrived, the President called her into the Oval Office and made several statements, which he later described as questions, regarding Monica Lewinsky. Ms. Currie testified before the grand jury, that the President said the following to her:
I was never really alone with Monica, right?
You were always there when Monica was there, right?
Monica came on to me, and I never touched her, right?
You could see and hear everything, right?
She wanted to have sex with me, and I cannot do that.
This conversation was repeated between the President and Ms. Currie again two days later. Though Ms. Currie testified that on both occasions she felt 'no real pressure' to agree with the President, she did nonetheless think he wanted her to agree with him. And, agree she did.
Lawyers for the President have defended his actions by stating that the President was refreshing his memory with Betty Currie because he was aware that the media frenzy regarding Monica Lewinsky was about to break loose. I find this explanation unconvincing for numerous reasons. The first, and perhaps most obvious reason is that a person does not typically refresh his recollection with statements he knows to be false. It is beyond belief that the President could assert such a defense. He knew he was alone with Ms. Lewinsky, and even he testified he would have been an 'exhibitionist' if he had conducted these acts in public view. In fact, when asked during the grand jury proceedings if Ms. Currie was nearby when he and Ms. Lewinsky had intimate contact, the President responded: 'I never--I didn't try to involve Betty in that in any way.' Further, the President's statements to Ms. Currie implying that she was always present, and that she could see and hear
everything, defy logic by indicating that Ms. Currie was always with the President and Ms. Lewinsky. The President clearly knew that was not the case.
The sum of this evidence convinces me the President was not only obstructing justice by tampering with a potential future witness, but also violating the gag order that had been put into effect by Judge Wright in the Jones case. The irony here is that one reason Ms. Currie became a potential witness was due to the President's own urging. Throughout the Jones deposition the President repeatedly offered 'you should ask Betty.' Then, on the very next day following these remarks, he summoned Ms. Currie to the White House and asked and answered his own leading questions. Importantly, the following week, Ms. Currie was subpoenaed to testify in the Jones matter.
I have also concluded the President's conversations with his aides concerning his relationship with Ms. Lewinsky constitute witness tampering. The President told his aides, John Podesta, Sidney Blumenthal, and Erskine Bowles, misleading and untrue statements about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. In fact, Mr. Podesta testified in the grand jury proceedings that the President was extremely explicit in his comments about denying any physical relationship and any sexual contact with Ms. Lewinsky.
Although the President's approach to this group of potential witnesses differed from his approach to Ms. Currie in that he did not ask this group to agree with his statements, I find these conversations equally disturbing. To mislead his key aides, who he admitted might be called to testify before the grand jury, demonstrates that there are no bounds on the President's attempts to protect himself. He was willing to mislead any person who might have blocked his intricate obstruction plan.
In addition, I believe that the President obstructed justice by intensifying and succeeding in an effort to secure job assistance for Ms. Lewinsky in order corruptly to prevent her from truthfully testifying in the Jones case. Although the President promised Ms. Lewinsky assistance with her New York job search prior to her name appearing on a witness list in the Jones case, it seems odd and much too coincidental that the President's assistance intensified after he learned that Ms. Lewinsky was on the witness list.
In October, Ms. Lewinsky expressed her interest to the President in moving to New York and finding a job. In early November, Ms. Lewinsky had a meeting with Vernon Jordan to discuss potential jobs in New York City. Ms. Lewinsky testified before the grand jury that this meeting resulted in no activity taking place. However, unbeknownst to Ms. Lewinsky, her job search would take a 360 degree turn in December. Possibly the most important day was December 6, 1997, when the President learned that Ms. Lewinsky's name had appeared on a list of potential witnesses in the Jones case. A little over a month later, Ms. Lewinsky was offered and accepted a job with Revlon in New York City.
Because I feel the sequence of events that took place in December is extremely telling; I will lay these events out. On December 6, the President learned Ms. Lewinsky was a potential witness in the Jones case. On December 7, the President and Mr. Jordan met at the White House. According to both parties, however, Ms. Lewinsky was never discussed. On December 8, Mr. Jordan received Ms. Lewinsky's resume by courier. On December 11, Mr. Jordan met with Ms. Lewinsky and made phone calls to various New York companies on her behalf. On December 17, after a job in New York seemed like a much more likely prospect for Ms. Lewinsky, the President telephoned Ms. Lewinsky at 2:00 a.m. to inform her that her name was on a witness list in the Jones case. On December 19, Ms. Lewinsky was served a subpoena in the Jones case. On December 31, Ms. Lewinsky and Mr. Jordan ate breakfast together at the Park Hyatt Hotel. On January 7, Ms. Lewinsky signed an affidavit to be filed in the Jones case in which she denied having sexual relations with the President. On January 8, Ms. Lewinsky interviewed in New York with MacAndrews and Forbes, a company recommended by Mr. Jordan. On that same day, Ms. Lewinsky informed Mr. Jordan that the interview did not go well. Mr. Jordan made a call to the Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer at MacAndrews and Forbes. On the morning of January 9, Ms. Lewinsky was given a second interview. On that same morning, Ms. Lewinsky was given an informal job offer, which she accepted. On January 13, 1998, Ms. Lewinsky received a formalized job offer.
It is apparent from the above time line that the President's efforts in finding Ms. Lewinsky a job in New York intensified at an excessive rate once it was discovered that Ms. Lewinsky was going to be a witness in the Jones case. The President was well aware of the fact that Ms. Lewinsky's testimony could be harmful to him, and thus, it was in his best interest to get Ms. Lewinsky a job in New York as soon as possible. It seems to be no coincidence that the President did not tell Ms. Lewinsky that she was a potential witness until eleven days after he learned of this news. Rather, it appears the President was using these eleven days to ensure that Ms. Lewinsky understood the President was her friend and was trying to assist her in her New York job hunt. Interestingly, Ms. Lewinsky was not informed of her witness status until after interviews in New York had been scheduled for her by Vernon Jordan.
PERJURY BEFORE THE GRAND JURY
The President is also charged with making perjurious, false, and misleading
testimony to a Federal grand jury concerning his corrupt efforts to influence the testimony of witnesses and to impede the discovery of evidence in the Jones civil rights action. My review of this charge, and the evidence offered, leads me to conclude that the President engaged in several separate acts of perjury. Specifically, the President lied under oath regarding the nature and details of his relationship with Ms. Lewinsky; lied regarding his conversation with Ms. Currie on the day following his Jones deposition; lied regarding his knowledge of Ms. Lewinsky's affidavit in the Jones case; lied regarding statements made to aides about his relationship with Ms. Lewinsky; lied regarding prior false and misleading statements he allowed his attorney Bob Bennett to make to a federal judge in the Jones case; and lied when he denied engaging in a plan to hide gifts that had been subpoenaed in the Jones case.
After the Jones deposition, on January 26, 1998, the President went on national television and declared: 'I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.' In addition, he denied that he urged her to lie about the affair. Over the next seven months, the President continued to deny the relationship. In the face of mounting evidence to the contrary, the Office of the Independent Counsel sought and received permission from the Attorney General to expand its investigation to include whether the President lied under oath in his Jones deposition.
Seven months later, on August 17, 1998, the President appeared before a grand jury to answer questions regarding his Jones deposition and his alleged affair with Ms. Lewinsky. Prior to his testimony, the President took a solemn oath to tell the truth. Specifically, when asked during the grand jury proceedings what this oath meant to him, the President stated: 'I have sworn on an oath to tell the grand jury the truth, and that's what I intend to do.' Moreover, the President stated: 'I will try to answer, to the best of my ability, other questions including questions about my relationship with Ms. Lewinsky; questions about my understanding of the term 'sexual relations,' as I understood it to be defined at my January 17, 1998 deposition; and questions concerning alleged subornation of perjury, obstruction of justice, and intimidation of witnesses.'
In my opinion, however, the President violated his stated intention to answer questions honestly and to the best of his ability. Perjury is defined by the United States Code as 'whoever under oath in any proceeding before or ancillary to any court or grand jury of the United States knowingly makes any false material declaration or makes or uses any other information, including any book, paper, document, record, recording, or other material, knowing the same to contain any false declaration.' See 18 USC s.1623. I believe that the President's statements fall within the above definition because his statements were both false and material to the proper inquiry of the grand jury.
First, the President gave false and misleading testimony during the grand jury proceedings concerning the nature and details of his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. On August 17, 1998, the President read a prepared statement to the grand jury as a response to the question of whether he was physically intimate with Monica Lewinsky. The prepared statement said:
When I was alone with Ms. Lewinsky on certain occasions in early 1996 and once in early 1997, I engaged in conduct that was wrong. These encounters did not consist of sexual intercourse. They did not constitute sexual relations as I understood that term to be defined at my January 17, 1998, deposition. But they did involve inappropriate intimate contact.
These inappropriate encounters ended, at my insistence, in early 1997. I also had occasional telephone conversations with Ms. Lewinsky that included inappropriate sexual banter.
I regret that what began as a friendship came to include this conduct, and I will take full responsibility for my actions.
During Ms. Lewinsky's grand jury testimony, she stated that the President had contact with various parts of her body. Even under the limited interpretation that the President has given the Jones definition of 'sexual relations,' the contact between the President and Ms. Lewinsky, as testified to by Ms. Lewinsky, constituted sexual relations on the part of both parties.
Before the grand jury, the President referred to his prepared response nineteen times in order to avoid providing honest and complete answers to the questions posed. By referring to his prepared statement, the President asserted that his encounters with Ms. Lewinsky did not constitute 'sexual relations.' The fact is that the evidence overwhelmingly affirms that the President had sexual contact with Ms. Lewinsky and his attempts at legal hairsplitting to maneuver around the truth failed.
To address part of the perjury charge creates the need to resolve the credibility conflict between the President and Ms. Lewinsky. By finding that the President committed perjury in regard to testimony concerning the nature and details of his relationship with Ms. Lewinsky, it is clear that I find the testimony of Ms. Lewinsky to be more honest and forthright. Some may question why I believe the testimony of Ms. Lewinsky over the testimony of the President. First and foremost, I believe Ms. Lewinsky had no motive to lie, whereas the President had every motive to conceal the details of this intimate relationship. Not only was his Presidency on the line, but his credibility with his staff would be destroyed if the
truth were exposed. Even more importantly, the President's credibility is questionable because he had to fear that discovery of the truth would cause his family immense devastation.
Furthermore, I believe Ms. Lewinsky is more credible because her statement is corroborated. Ms. Lewinsky told the intimate details of her relationship to her therapists, her friends, Linda Tripp, her mother, and her aunt. Thus, it is not difficult to find that Ms. Lewinsky is a more credible witness than the President.
I further believe the President made perjurious and misleading statements before the grand jury when he disclosed his version of his conversations with Betty Currie. As stated earlier, I believe that the rhetorical questions the President asked Ms. Currie on two separate occasions were an effort to coach a potential witness in the Jones case. During his grand jury testimony, the President testified that he questioned Ms. Currie because he thought the story would break in the press, he needed to get the facts down, and he was trying to refresh his memory. The reality is the President was never trying to refresh his memory. Ms. Currie even acknowledged in the grand jury proceedings that based on the way the President stated the questions and his demeanor, she believed he wished for her to agree with his statements.
In addition, according to the President's own grand jury testimony, he told no one of his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. Specifically, during grand jury questioning, the President was asked with regard to his relationship with Ms. Lewinsky: 'Had you told anyone?' The President answered: 'Absolutely not.' Question: 'Had you tried, in fact, not to let anyone else know about this relationship?' Answer: 'Well, of course.' Question: 'What did you do?' Answer: 'Well I never said anything about it, for one thing. And I did what people do when they do the wrong thing. I tried to do it where nobody else was looking at it.'
Thus, if the President was hiding his intimate encounters with Ms. Lewinsky, how would Ms. Currie have been capable of refreshing his memory on details of his secret relationship? The truth is that the President was fully aware of the fact he touched Ms. Lewinsky. Likewise, the President was fully aware that there had been instances when he was alone with Ms. Lewinsky. The only reason the President asked Ms. Currie those five infamous rhetorical questions was to provide a false and misleading account of the events to Ms. Currie in the hope Ms. Currie would substantiate the false testimony he gave in his deposition. The President's grand jury testimony that he was trying to refresh his memory was simply a story concocted to cover up the fact that he obstructed justice. Thus, his grand jury testimony was perjurious.
In addition to making false statements with regard to the potential testimony of Betty Currie, the President also made false statements with regard to tampering with the potential testimony of his aides. The President testified to the grand jury that he said to his aides things that were true about his relationship with Ms. Lewinsky. 'I said, I have not had sex with her as I defined it.' This statement is, however, patently untrue, as White House Deputy Chief of Staff John Podesta's testimony indicates. Mr. Podesta testified that the President was explicit in stating that no sexual contact of any kind occurred between the two parties.
Furthermore, during the grand jury proceedings, the President testified that when he was asking Ms. Currie about the times he was alone with Ms. Lewinsky, he was referring to 1997. The President stated: 'Keep in mind, sir, I just want to make it--I was talking about 1997. I was never, ever trying to get Betty Currie to claim that on the occasions when Monica Lewinsky was there when she wasn't anywhere around, that she was. I would never have done that to her, and I don't think she thought about that. I don't think she thought I was referring to that.' The President was then asked: 'Did you put a date restriction? Did you make it clear to Ms. Currie that you were only asking her whether you were never alone with her after 1997?' The President responded: 'Well, I don't recall whether I did or not, but I assumed--if I didn't, I assumed she knew what I was talking about, because it was the point at which Ms. Lewinsky was out of the White House and had to have someone wave her in, in order to get in the White House.' In my view, this is just one more example of the President creating a false story to cover up the fact that his conversation with Betty Currie constituted witness tampering.
The President also provided perjurious, false, and misleading testimony to a Federal grand jury regarding his knowledge that the contents of an affidavit executed by Ms. Lewinsky were untrue. Attorneys for Paula Jones were seeking evidence of sexual relationships the President may have had with other state or federal employees. In this process, Ms. Lewinsky was subpoenaed as a witness. The President suggested that Ms. Lewinsky should file an affidavit to avoid having to testify. If the truth had been told in this affidavit, and if Ms. Lewinsky had been honest about the nature of her relationship with the President, Ms. Lewinsky indisputably would have been an important witness.
The President stated before the grand jury, when asked about the Lewinsky affidavit: 'Did I hope [Monica Lewinsky would] be able to get out of testifying on an affidavit? Absolutely. . . Did I want her to execute a false affidavit? No, I did not.' The President's testimony is not credible and is misleading in light of the fact that it was virtually impossible for Ms. Lewinsky to file a truthful affidavit that would have permitted the President to achieve his objective of not having Ms. Lewinsky testify. This is just one more instance were the President lied, misled, and violated his
solemn oath to tell the truth.
In addition, the President gave perjurious testimony in regard to false and misleading statements he allowed his attorney Bob Bennett to make to a federal judge in the Jones case. When asked during his grand jury testimony how he could have lawfully sat silent while his attorney made a false statement, the President explained that he was not paying 'a great deal of attention.' As I stated earlier, from reviewing the President's videotaped deposition numerous times, I believe that it is apparent that the President was indeed paying attention when his attorney made these false statements.
Finally, in his grand jury testimony, the President stated he told Ms. Lewinsky that if the attorneys for Paula Jones asked for the gifts, she had to provide them. In light of the fact that all of the gifts the President gave Ms. Lewinsky were never produced and some of the gifts were found under Ms. Currie's bed, I do not believe that the President's grand jury testimony regarding his conversation with Ms. Lewinsky was truthful.
Accordingly, after considering all of the evidence, I believe that the President is guilty of both Article I and Article II.
Mr. Chief Justice, the President of the United States has put the Senate in a difficult position. His actions have caused all of us to examine the uncomfortable details surrounding his reckless affair with a young White House intern. But it was not his unfortunate actions with the White House intern that brought us to this moment. Rather, it was his wilful and deliberate attempt to cover it up in a judicial proceeding and then lie under oath to a Federal grand jury. We are not here because we disagree with the President's politics. In fact, I happen to consider the President a very capable man, who has, by his own actions, destroyed his place in history. For me to watch someone strategically dismantle all they have worked for is disturbing, to say the least. However, in spite of the human side of this tragedy, there is no escaping that we are here simply because of the President's intentionally deceptive behavior and his unwillingness to abide by the law.
We were handed very serious charges against the President by the House of Representatives. In disposing of this matter, we have followed the only template we have: the Constitution and the precedent of previous Senates. We have followed the Founders to the best of our abilities. Despite cries all around to end the trial and ignore our Constitutional mandate, the Senate allowed for a process rooted in the search for truth. All sides had an opportunity to make their case, question witnesses, and answer inquiries posed by individual Senators.
Although this journey was less than perfect, we did not fail in this endeavor. We did not fail our Founders, we did not fail the House of Representatives or the President, and we did not fail the American people. I attended the meetings of the Senate, reviewed the material in the record, asked questions of the House Managers and White House counsel, and reviewed the depositions of witnesses. I am satisfied that our proceedings over the past month allowed me sufficient information to arrive at my decision.
I am convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that William Jefferson Clinton is guilty of the charges levied by the House of Representatives and should be removed from office. By employing that standard I do not wish to influence others who find a different standard to be more appropriate.
I am proud of the United States Senate and how it conducted itself during this process. Despite extraordinary difficulty, we did our job according to the Constitution and to the best of our ability. I am hopeful that through this process we have provided future generations with enough information to make an informed judgement of this President's actions. In the end, however, history will be the final arbiter.
Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice. I yield the floor.
Friday, February 12, 1999
How the senators voted on impeachment
What's next for Clinton, Congress
Politicians react to Clinton verdict
Clinton apologizes to nation
Transcript: President Clinton comments on end of Senate trial
Clinton's evolving apology for the Lewinsky affair
A reverent tone inside the Senate chamber
Evening newspapers get Clinton scoop
Text of Clinton e-mail sent to White House staff
Weary nation welcomes the trial's end
Bush sends video to Iowa activists
Rehnquist returns to Supreme Court
In history's annals, where will we find Monica?
Linda Tripp says she would do it again
Student: The New Yorker stole Monica Lisa