ad info

 custom news
 Headline News brief
 daily almanac
 CNN networks
 on-air transcripts
 news quiz

CNN Websites
 video on demand
 video archive
 audio on demand
 news email services
 free email accounts
 desktop headlines

 message boards



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

Transcript: House debates articles of impeachment

December 18, 1998

CONYERS: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to have recognized the gentlelady from New York, Mrs. Nita Lowey, for two minutes.

SPEAKER: The gentlewoman is recognized for two minutes.

House impeachment debate

Page 1: Adjournment debated

Page 2: ; LaHood sets rules;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Page 10

U.S. REPRESENTATIVE NITA LOWEY (D-NY): May I ask unanimous consent...

SPEAKER: Without objection.

LOWEY: Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to the resolution. Our founding fathers viewed impeachment as a mechanism of last resort to protect the nation from a president who threatened the Constitution or the American people. Throughout our history, members of Congress have appreciated the enormous gravity of impeachment and that is why, despite countless disputes, provocations, misdeeds and lies, the House has voted just once in its history to impeach a president.

Indeed, the delicate system of constitutional checks and balances established by the founders works only insofar as each branch of government exercises its prerogatives responsibly.

LOWEY: In the case of impeachment, that means applying the most rigorous test to the use of our authority. The Constitution gives this body the ability to undo our only national election, but we must use that authority judiciously and cautiously. To do otherwise imperils the stability of our democracy, replacing the orderly transfer of power with the constant threat of political upheaval.

A great nation does not overturn two national elections and throw a president of office because he denied having sult is the same: defiance of the public will and rejection of the regular political process.

Mr. Speaker, what will impeachment mean? A trial in this Senate would only deepen the nation's wounds. Imagine the spectacle of the upper chamber of the world's greatest democracy presided over by the highest judge in the land gathered for weeks and months not to consider important affairs of State, but instead to hear the same tawdry testimony, the same tiresome details again and again.

I am frankly amazed, my colleagues, that the House stands poised today at the edge of a deep abyss.

The American people in their wisdom have emplored us to leave the slippery road of impeachment and pursue instead the measured course of censure.

MCCULLUM: I yield 30 seconds to the gentleman from Georgia, Mr. Barr.

SPEAKER: The gentleman is recognized.

BARR: I thank the gentleman. The other gentleman from Florida, Mr. Hastings, brought up an interesting point a moment ago asking rethoritically, who has indeed read the material and reviewed the evidence. It is interesting to note, Mr. Speaker, that in the more than three months that the independent counsel's material, some 60,000 pages, have been over at the Ford Building, there remained, I believe, four members of the Democrat's on the Judiciary Committee that have not spent one minute reviewing that material, and even though arrangements have been made through Chairman Hyde to have other members of both sides of the aisle not serving on the Judiciary Committee ...

MCCULLUM: I yield an additional 15 seconds to the gentleman.

BARR: Thank you -- to review the material so they can have answered any questions or look at the material first hand, I believe there has been at most one member on the Democrat side who has gone over to review the material.

So the answer to the question posed by the gentleman from Florida is apparently most members on the other side are not interested in the evidence and therefore have not even reviewed it.

MCCULLUM: I yield three-and-half minutes to the gentleman from Florida, Mr. Canady.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from Florida, without objection, is recognized for three-and-a-half minutes.

CANADY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to respond to the point made by the gentlelady, my good friend. This is a process that we are following under the Constitution and I am very disappointed that there has been a failure of those who are opposing these articles to focus on the facts of the case before us.

These facts are inconvenient facts. They're very compelling facts, pointing to a pattern of perjury and obstruction of justice by the president of the United States, but all the passionate argument about the independent counsel, all the passionate attacks on the process here in the Congress do not alter the stubborn facts of the case before us.

Now, I would also like to bring to the attention of the members, the "Report on Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment," which was prepared in February of 1974 by the staff of the Nixon impeachment inquiry.

CANADY: And I would ask that all the members consider this key language from that staff report describing the type of conduct which gives rise to impeachment. There, the Democratic staff of the Rodino committee wrote: "The emphasis has been on the significant effects of the conduct: undermining the integrity of office; disregard of constitutional duties and oath of office; derogation of power; abuse of governmental process; adverse impact on the system of government."

Perjury and obstruction of justice clearly undermine the integrity of office. They're unavoidable consequences to erode respect for the office of president. Such offenses are an obvious disregard of the president's constitutional duties and oath of office. Moreover, they are offenses which have a direct and serious adverse impact on the system of government. Obstruction of justice is by definition an assault on the due administration of justice, which is a core function of our system of government.

And as the first chief justice of the United States John Jay observed, no crime is more extensively pernicious to society than the crime of perjury.

The significance of the offenses committed by the president is not in any degree diminished by the fact that they do not directly involve the president's official conduct. Despite their argument that the president is immune from impeachment because of the underlying conduct which gave rise to his crimes was a private matter, the president's lawyers have themselves elsewhere claimed, and I would ask that you listen to this. These are the words of the president's own lawyers. They said, and I quote, "Any conduct by the individual holding the office of the president, whether it is characterized as private or official, can have substantial impact on a president's official duties."

Perjury and obstruction of justice, even regarding a private matter, are offenses that have a substantial impact on the president's official duties because they are grossly incompatible with his preeminent duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.

Perjury and obstruction of justice are not private matters, they are crimes against the system of justice...


CONYERS: If the gentleman will suspend...

CANADY: ... crimes for which this president must be impeached.

CONYERS: Mr. Speaker, I would like to yield to the ranking member of the former Government Operations Committee, the gentleman from California, Mr. Waxman, for two minutes, and ask that he yield to me briefly.


CONYERS: Thank you.

SPEAKER: Yield 30 seconds.

CONYERS: I have just been advised that the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee has unilaterally permitted other members other than committee members to visit the Ford building to hear and read other materials unbeknownst to me, and we had not allowed any Democratic members to go over there, because we didn't know that they were permitted to attend if they were not members of the Judiciary Committee. And I thank Mr. Barr for pointing that out to us.

It's an incredible violation of our democratic rights, and I'm deeply offended by it.

UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: Will the gentleman yield? Will the gentleman yield?

CONYERS: I do not have the time, sir.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from California is recognized.

WAXMAN: Mr. Speaker, over and over again our Republican colleagues have called for the rule of law. Let me suggest that if the president has committed a crime, let him be tried in a court of law. There even he will have the protections of the law. Here in this House, he is not getting the rule of law, but the rule of politics. This president has been subjected to an unprecedented and deliberate strategy to use taxpayers' funded money to investigate him in order to get him. Millions have been spent...


SPEAKER: It is not fair to the member speaking from that podium to have five other members and a staff person standing in the aisle. The members in the aisle will take a seat.

The member can't be heard when there's five members talking in the aisle.

Now, members have a limited amount of time here. And in fairness to members, we need to have an ability for them to be heard. The member may proceed.

WAXMAN: Millions of dollars have been spent. Many reckless charges were investigated, investigated to death, and they were found to have no basis in fact, and they were found to have no basis in fact.

WAXMAN: As a matter of fact, a resolution of impeachment was introduced before anybody had ever heard of President Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky.

There has been an impeachment in search of an impeachable offense. What has been presented to us today do not amount to impeachable offenses. I call for the rule of law and the supremacy of the Constitution.

Yield back the balance of my time.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from Wisconsin.

SENSENBRENNER: Mr. Speaker, I yield myself one minute.

SPEAKER: The gentleman is recognized.

SENSENBRENNER: Now, Mr. Speaker, I think it's important to clear up the record as a result of what the gentleman from Michigan, Mr. Conyers, had to say about access to executive session materials. Just so that all of the members are clear, when the House passed House Resolution 525 in September, immediately after the receipt of the independent counsel's report, only members of the Judiciary Committee had access to the executive session material. Section four of that resolution was effective during the review of the referral from independent counsel Starr.

Pursuant to section one of H.Res. 525, rules relating to review by the committee was effective until there was a further order of the House. Then in October, when we passed our inquiry resolution, that superseded the previous resolution's provisions relative to access to executive session material.

House Resolution 581, the inquiry resolution passed in October, had standard executive session rules of the House obtained.

SPEAKER: Your time has expired.

SENSENBRENNER: I yield myself 15 additional seconds.

SPEAKER: The gentleman is recognized.

SENSENBRENNER: And that meant that all members of the House of Representatives had access to those executive session materials. That has been what the rule is since October 8, and any member has had the legal right to go over to the Ford Building and examine the executive session materials.

Now, I yield one minute to the gentleman from New York, Mr. Houghton.

SPEAKER: The gentleman is recognized for one minute.

HOUGHTON: I ask unanimous consent (OFF-MIKE).

SPEAKER: Without objection.

HOUGHTON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm going to take a little different tack here. I stand here as a Republican. I'm proud of my party, but I'm opposed to impeachment, and having proposed my own censure motion, which sadly will die with this session.

But this is today; what about tomorrow? Today, we deal with the law. Tomorrow, we deal with people's lives. The famous parliamentarian which we've all read, Edmund Burke, once said: "The law sharpens the mind by narrowing it. But in few, law has lifted the mind to a level of comprehension and of humanity."

So Mr. Speaker, when all the arguments are done and when the votes are taken, this is what we must work for: the humanity, the healing of this nation.

I yield the balance of my time.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from Michigan.

CONYERS: Mr. Speaker, I'm delighted to yield two-and-a-half minutes to the gentleman from Maryland, Mr. Wynn, and ask him to yield for a few seconds to me please.

SPEAKER: The gentleman is recognized.

WYNN: I'd certainly yield back to the ranking member.

CONYERS: Thank you. I thank the gentleman from Wisconsin, a ranking member on Judiciary, for his explanation. The one thing it didn't include, of course, was that only members who were trying to have their minds made up were the only ones that came over to the Ford Building that weren't Judiciary Committee members two days before this proceeding on the floor.

And I'm glad to know now that everybody could have come over, but nobody apparently availed themselves until this last minute twisting of arms took place.

I thank the gentleman for yielding.

SPEAKER: The gentleman may proceed.

WYNN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Request unanimous consent to revise and extend my remarks.

SPEAKER: Without objection.

WYNN: I thank the ranking member for his recognition. I rise in strong opposition to these articles of impeachment. We are perhaps at one of the lowest point in American politics. We're in the midst of a parliamentary coup. The party in the majority wants to remove an elected president and that's the parliamentary system. That's not the democratic system. They're doing so without any legitimacy. Legitimacy demands bipartisanship. There is no bipartisanship on the floor today, simply the will of this majority to drive out this president -- a true parliamentary coup.

WYNN: This debate has brought out some of the worst features of man. I have to say it. First of all, hypocrisy. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

Second, unfairness. The members of this body on both sides would like to vote on a censure resolution. The Republican majority will not allow that. The American people believe censure is an appropriate response. The Republican majority will not allow that.

And third, there's a very unseemly obsession with this matter to the exclusion of what used to be called the war effort. It used to be we got behind our young men and women. We focused on what they were doing. This crowd believes that their narrow agenda, their partisan agenda, is more important.

At bottom, this is about sex. Now, the Republicans will jump up and say, no, it's about lying. Well, even if you accept the allegations that they're making, it's about lying about sex. That's not an impeachable offense.

If, in fact, they want to make the argument that this is about the rule of law, then the president is not above the rule of law. The president can be prosecuted. Do not believe the president can escape prosecution for these offenses in a court of law.

Request an additional minute.

CONYERS: I would yield the gentleman an additional minute.

WYNN: Thank the gentleman. The president can be prosecuted after he leaves office. The Founding Fathers left to us the question of impeachment, which is not legal, it's a political exercise which we're engaged in today.

Unfortunately, the Republicans have lost all sense of proportion of judgment. They talk about law, but they don't talk about justice. Justice looks at the situation and fits the sanction to the crime.

In this instance, we don't have high crimes and misdemeanors, we have low crimes and misdeeds. In truth, we ought to have the sanction option. We ought to look at another way to respond to the situation. But we don't have that opportunity.

This crowd, this Republican leadership is forcing us to remove the president, and that's a tragedy. And that is, in fact, a low point in American politics. I relinquish the balance of my time.


SPEAKER: Yes, sir?

SENSENBRENNER: I yield one minute to the gentleman from Georgia, Mr. Kingston.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from Georgia is recognized.

KINGSTON: I ask unanimous consent...

SPEAKER: Without objection.

KINGSTON: ... my remarks. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. First, let me clear up a misconception of the previous speaker about the situation internationally. May 18, 1972, when over 62,000 troops were on the ground in Vietnam, Mr. Conyers, the ranking member on the Judiciary Committee, introduced House Resolution 989, calling for the impeachment of the president of the United States of America.

Now, let me say this. As I've listened to this debate and listened to both parties, there is at least an emerging consensus that lies have been made, laws were broken and that the rule of law was undermined and subverted.

The question diverges on the matter of consequences. Is this impeachable? Some want censure, but the only constitutional remedy to the House is impeachment.

Should the Senate decide, they may be able to censure. They have that option, because only the Senate can decide on punishment. The House does not have that option. Our duty is to accuse, not to punish.

But since Democrats and Republicans haven't -- has my time expired, Mr. Speaker?

SPEAKER: Your time is expired, yes.

KINGSTON: Ten more seconds?

SPEAKER: Gentleman from Michigan.

SENSENBRENNER: I yield an additional 30 seconds, Mr. Speaker.

SPEAKER: The gentleman's recognized.

KINGSTON: I thank the gentleman.

Since Democrats and Republicans have agreed that lies were made, is it a high crime or a misdemeanor? Lying under oath on a material matter is perjury and, under these circumstances, a felony. It has been serious enough that 700 people, under the Clinton-Reno Justice Department, have been tried and convicted of it -- excuse me -- 115 are, in fact, in jail today.

What would happen to the court system if this were not the case? Justice must be applied to all equally, regardless of popularity, party or position.

I sadly must support these articles. Thank you.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from Michigan.

CONYERS: Mr. Speaker, I would yield now two minutes to Mrs. Woolsey. Is she here? OK. Excuse me. May I yield, instead, to the gentlelady from California, Mrs. Nancy Pelosi, three minutes.

SPEAKER: The gentlewoman is recognized for three minutes.

PELOSI: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today is a tragic day for our country because while our young people are fighting in the Persian Gulf and bringing honor to our country, we are bringing dishonor to it with our hypocrisy here in this chamber.

Today, the Republican Party is not judging...


PELOSI: ... our president with fairness...


PELOSI: ... but is impeaching our president...

SPEAKER: The gentlewoman will suspend.

SENSENBRENNER: Mr. Speaker, I make a parliamentary inquiry.

SPEAKER: State it.

SENSENBRENNER: I wonder whether the word hypocrisy on this floor is in order? It impugns the (OFF-MIKE) of members.

SPEAKER: The gentlewoman from California would have to yield for that purpose.

PELOSI: I don't have enough time to yield, Mr. Chairman.

SPEAKER: The gentlewoman may proceed.

PELOSI: Thank you. Today, the Republican majority is not judging the president with fairness, but impeaching him with a vengeance. In the investigation of the president, fundamental principles which Americans hold dear -- privacy, fairness, checks and balances -- have been seriously violated. And why?

PELOSI: Because we are here today because the Republicans in the House are paralyzed with hatred of President Clinton. And until the Republicans free themselves of this hatred, our country will suffer.

I rise to oppose the unfair motions which all for the removal of the president of the United States from office, and in doing so, wish to point out some differences between the investigation of the president and the investigation of Newt Gingrich.

The first principle in our investigation of Newt Gingrich was that at the moment we found exculpatory information, it would be reported immediately to the accused and be made public.

The independent counsel knew that the president was exonerated with Travelgate, Whitewater, and Filegate and he held that information until the hearing, indeed until after the election. This was not fair. Indeed, it is the responsibility of any prosecutor to immediately release information that is exculpatory.

This is not about -- So it's not about Whitewater, it's not about Travelgate, and it's not about Filegate. It's about sex. It's about a punishment searching for a crime that doesn't exist.

In the Gingrich probe, we drew every inference in favor of the accused. But in this case, it took a closing question from a member of the grand jury to Monica Lewinsky to say, "Is there anything you would like to add to your prior testimony?" for Monica Lewinsky to respond, and I quote, "No one ever asked me to lie, and I was never promised a job for my silence."

The point is why didn't the independent counsel elicit that important testimony? In the Gingrich case, we spent a major part of our report explaining the laws which were violated. The Judiciary Committee has not proven perjury, it's not even defined perjury. Instead, it has kept the subject intentionally vague.

Whether one is violating a marital vow or some other aspect of his personal behavior, it is not an impeachable offense. You have not proven perjury.

In the Gingrich probe, we had a bipartisan unanimous vote in our subcommittee and an almost unanimous vote on the floor because we built consensus and we tried to bring the matter to closure. May I have an additional minute?

CONYERS: I can give the lady 30 seconds.

PELOSI: OK. Well, in that case, I'll have to submit the rest of the record where I say that closure -- censure is closure, censure is constitutional. John Marshall, the Supreme Court -- the chief justice of the United States testified that it was. How can the Republicans, we come to punishment -- How can the Republicans exalt Newt Gingrich to the highest post of speaker after he admitted lying to Congress and tried to impeach the president of the United States for lying about his personal affairs. I urge my colleagues to vote no, stop this hatchet job on the presidency, stop this hypocrisy, stop this hatred. Vote no on all four counts. Thank you.

CONYERS: The gentleman from Wisconsin.

SENSENBRENNER: Mr. Speaker, I yield 30 seconds to the gentleman from Arkansas, Mr. Hutchinson.

SPEAKER: The gentleman is recognized.

U.S. REPRESENTATIVE ASA HUTCHINSON (R-AR): I've been taking notes on my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, and I would just ask them to talk about the facts on the articles four. We'd love you to talk about those. If anyone disputes the allegations of perjury, obstruction of justice, we'd like to hear some specific allegations.

The Judiciary Committee conducted an independent review of this matter. We're not bound by Kenneth Starr. All the exculpatory material was made available to the president's counsel. He had an opportunity to call witnesses. We urged him to. All the time was not taken by the president's counsel, and I think that's important to be noted.

I believe it's critical that we're fair through the Judiciary Committee process, and I believe we accomplished that.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from Wisconsin.

SENSENBRENNER: Mr. Speaker, I yield two minutes to the gentleman from Mississippi, Mr. Wicker.

SPEAKER: Gentleman from Mississippi is recognized for two minutes.

U.S. REPRESENTATIVE ROGER WICKER (R-MI): I ask for unanimous consent.

SPEAKER: Without objection.

WICKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm glad we keep coming back to the rule of law question. I think standing for the rule of law includes the following: that the nation's chief law enforcement officer cannot commit perjury and remain in office.

The rule of law means that the commander in chief of our armed forces could not be held to a lower standard than his subordinates. The rule of law means that even the most ordinary and humble citizens are entitled to their day in court, and they are entitled to expect sworn testimony in that court to be truthful, even testimony from the president of the United States.

The rule of law means recognizing that felonious criminal conduct by the president of the United States cannot be tolerated. The rule of law is more important than the tenure in office of any elected official.

During John Adams second night in the White House, he wrote these words: "I pray heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this house and on all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise men ever rule this roof."

Mr. Speaker, it is with great regret that I conclude the current occupant of the White House has utterly failed to live up to this standard. I cast my vote for impeachment to protect the long-term national interest of the United States, to affirm the importance of truth and honesty, and to uphold the rule of law in our nation. Thank you.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from Michigan.

CONYERS: Mr. Speaker, I yield to Mrs. Eshoo of California for a unanimous consent request.

SPEAKER: The gentlewoman is recognized.

U.S. REPRESENTATIVE ANN ESHOO (D-CA): I thank the ranking member. Mr. Speaker, I ask for unanimous consent to place into the record the full statement of our colleague from California, Representative George Miller of the 7th District, his full statement on the resolutions of impeachment, which he is opposed to.

SPEAKER: Without objection, that will be covered under General Lee (ph).

CONYERS: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to recognize for two minutes the distinguished gentleman from Florida, Mr. Deutsch.

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

U.S. REPRESENTATIVE PETER DEUTSCH (D-FL): Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Republican leadership's irresponsible actions today on impeachment is only met by the irresponsible behavior yesterday questioning the military action in Iraq.

The president's conduct has been deplorable, indefensible, but his behavior by any objective analysis does not rise to the level of impeachment as defined by our Constitution.

What did the president do? He misled, he manipulated, and he lied to two specific questions under oath. The first question was whether he was ever alone with Ms. Lewinsky. The leading Supreme Court case on perjury, I think, really points out the fact that that issue was not perjury. As distasteful as that might be, that's the facts (OFF-MIKE).

The leading Supreme Court case talked about someone who testified under oath that he did not have -- his company did not have a Swiss bank account. He, in fact, did. But his company did not. He was prosecuted, convicted for perjury. The Supreme Court overthrew that case because, in fact, that was not perjury, by being deceitful, by being misleading in his answer.

That's exactly what the president did. But even if it were perjury, even if it were perjury, our Constitution talks about subversion of government as issues for impeachment. Can anyone objectively say that the answers to those questions were an attempt to subvert our government? Can anyone say that objectively, honestly? Obviously not. These misrepresentations were lies, but absolutely not a subversion of our government.

Clearly, this is not an impeachable offense. Clearly, again, the conspiracy that my Republican colleagues say occurred in terms of the actions in Iraq, the British are involved in those actions. Are they part of the conspiracy that they allege? Are the 30 countries that are part of the UNSCOM UN team that did the investigation in terms of chemical and biological weapons in Iraq, are they part of this conspiracy as well? Obviously not. Irresponsible actions will be checked at the ballot box and by history. Thank you.

SENSENBRENNER: Speaker, I yield one minute to the gentleman from Florida, Mr. Canady, for...

SPEAKER: The gentleman is recognized.

CANADY: I wanted to compliment my colleague from Florida for at least touching on the facts of the case, but I feel compelled to respond to the points he's made about perjury.

I think what we're hearing here are more of the legalisms, more of the legal gymnastics, more of the hair splitting that we shouldn't be hearing in this context. And I would also point out that the president's own lawyer in his presentation to the Judiciary Committee admitted that when the president answered the questions in the deposition, he intended to mislead by his answers. That was his intention.

Let me read to you from a recent decision of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in the Dizoren (ph) case. It says "A perjury inquiry, which focuses only upon the precision of the question and ignores what the defendant knew about the subject matter of the question at the time it was asked misses the very point of perjury. That is the defendant's intent to testify falsely and thereby mislead his interrogators. Such a limited inquiry would not only undermine the perjury laws, it would undermine the rule of law as a whole, as truth seeking as the critical component which allows us to determine if the laws are being followed, and it is only through the requirement that a witness testify truthfully that a determination might be made as to whether the laws are being followed.

SENSENBRENNER: Speaker, I yield one minute to the gentleman from Pennsylvania, Mr. Greenwood.

SPEAKER: The gentleman is recognized for one minute.

U.S. REPRESENTATIVE JIM GREENWOOD (R-PA): Thank you, gentleman, for yielding. The gentleman from Michigan, Mr. Conyers, made reference earlier in the debate to last-minute arm twisting of the undecided, and I feel compelled to comment.

I made a commitment to myself and to my colleagues, an unusual one, that is to come to this debate with my mind still available to persuasion. I am one of the last few holdouts undecided in this debate, and it needs to be said that not once, not once in this entire ordeal has a single member of my leadership, has a single colleague, has a single member of the Judiciary Committee not only not asked me to vote one way, they've never even inquired as to how I would vote.

We have big differences of opinion here, but it does the process a dis-justice, an injustice to argue that there has been arm-twisting. I think that the whip has been maligned in this process. It has been alleged that he is twisting arms. I spent three and a half hours in the company of Mr. Livingston, Mr. Armey, Mr. DeLay and the entire elected leadership this week, and not once did any of them say a word to me about impeachment.

I thank the gentleman.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from Michigan.

CONYERS: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to recognize the gentleman from Texas, Mr. Doggett, a former member of the supreme court of his state, for two minutes.

SPEAKER: The gentleman's recognized for two minutes.


As a former judge and an attorney, I have seen first-hand the corrosive effect on the justice system of lying. Lying under oath is just as wrong when it is committed by your allies as when committed by your adversaries. And I agree that no Republican made this president lie, just as no Democrat influence Newt Gingrich.

When the House reconvened after the August recess, the president's testimony to the grand jury and his statement to the nation, I was the first member of this House on either side of the aisle to come to this floor and condemn the president's lying and ask that he be promptly punished. Then as today, this Republican leadership had a choice. It could either bring us together in a collective condemnation of this conduct, or it could split us apart.

Unfortunately, on the eve of an election, it took the latter course, and in an unsuccessful effort, it tried to exploit this situation to its maximum political advantage. It arrogantly rejected Democratic suggestions for how to conduct this inquiry, and it delayed for weeks getting the inquiry under way.

When it finally convened, this same committee that comes today and tells us that this is the more important decision of this House short of declaring war failed to meet its burden of proof by calling one single witness who had first-hand knowledge of the facts involved. Instead, it relied almost exclusively on a fellow named Ken Starr, who is obsessed with getting Bill Clinton, no matter what the cost in either wasted taxpayer dollars or in violated civil liberties and rights of privacy.

And so I find myself today, I think, like many Americans, disgusted with the whole situation. Find a situation that is so shameful...

May I have an additional 30 seconds?

CONYERS: I yield the gentleman an additional 30 seconds.

DOGGETT: A situation so shameful that neither Republican speaker, either Mr. Gingrich or Mr. Livingston, will even preside over this proceeding today. A new year that begins in this country with all three branches of our government embroiled in the first Senate trial in 130 years will not be a prosperous and productive new year for our people. The poison of division that infects this House today spreads throughout the American populace. It is a poison that invades our body politic and thwarts our ability to come together as a nation to resolve our problems.

Don't rip our nation asunder. Bring us together, censure and move on.


SPEAKER: The gentleman from Wisconsin.

SENSENBRENNER: Speaker, I yield 10 seconds to the gentleman from Tennessee, Mr. Bryant.

SPEAKER: The gentleman's recognized.

BRYANT: With over 60,000 documents and the presentation of the White House lawyer, Mr. Ruff, he made no challenge to the testimony of Betty Currie, Monica Lewinsky or anyone else in the factual situation that we've had before.

Thank you.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from Wisconsin.

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

SPEAKER: The gentleman's recognized.

U.S. REPRESENTATIVE JERRY LEWIS (R-CA): Mr. Speaker, it's with a heavy heart that I rise in support of the articles of impeachment before the House today. I ask unanimous consent to revise and extend my remarks.

SPEAKER: Without objection. The gentleman from Wisconsin.

SENSENBRENNER: Mr. Speaker, I yield a minute and a half to the gentleman from Ohio, Mr. Boehner.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from Ohio is recognized for one and one half minutes.

U.S. REPRESENTATIVE JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH): Mr. Speaker and my colleagues, every member of Congress takes an oath of office to uphold and defend the Constitution. And today we're challenged to do our duty under that oath. No person in this House is without fault or without sin, but the question before us is not whether the president has sinned. The question before us is whether the president has committed illegal acts, including perjury, obstruction of justice and abuse of power.

Under the Constitution that we swore to defend, these are serious crimes, crimes that our constituents would go to prison for. And do we hold the president, the top-ranking law enforcement official in our country, to a lower standard?

John Locke once wrote, "Where the law ends, tyranny begins." Mr. Speaker, if we believe in our Constitution, then the law does not stop at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. In our constitutional democracy, no one, not even the president, is above the law.

None of us sought the burden of impeachment when we ran for this office, but every one of us raised our right hand and swore to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. And who are we to ignore that obligation by turning a blind eye to crimes by the leader of our government?

I have no choice but to honor my oath of office. I have no choice but to impeach this president and send this matter to the Senate, as my oath of office requires me to do.

Back | Next

Investigating the President


Friday, December 18, 1998

Search CNN/AllPolitics by infoseek
          Enter keyword(s)       go    help

© 1998 Cable News Network, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.
Who we are.