House Manager James Sensenbrenner's Opening Statement
January 14, 1999
REP. JAMES SENSENBRENNER (R-WISCONSIN):
Mr. Chief Justice, distinguished counsel to
the president, and senators, in his third annual message to
Congress on December 7, 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt
said: "No man is above the law and no man is below it. Nor do
we ask any man's permission when we require him to obey it.
Obedience to the law is demanded as a right, not asked as a
We are here today because President William Jefferson Clinton
decided to put himself above the law -- not once, not twice, but
repeatedly. He put himself above the law when he engaged in a
multi- faceted scheme to obstruct justice during the federal
civil rights case of Paula Corbin Jones v. William Jefferson
Clinton, et al.
He put himself above the law when he made perjurious, false
and misleading statements under oath during his grand jury
testimony on August 17, 1998. In both instances, he unlawfully
attempted to prevent the judicial branch of government -- a
co-equal branch from performing its constitutional duty to
administer equal justice under law.
The United States House of Representatives has determined
that the president's false and misleading testimony to the grand
jury and his obstruction of justice in the Jones lawsuit, are
high crimes and misdemeanors within the meaning of the
Should the Senate conduct a fair and
impartial trial which allows each side to present its best case,
then the American public can be confident that justice has been
served regardless of the outcome.
We hear much about how important the rule of law is to our
nation and our system of government. Some have commented this
expression is trite. But whether expressed by these three words
or others, the primacy of law over the rule of individuals is
what distinguishes the United States from most of other
countries and why our Constitution is as alive today as it was
210 years ago.
The framers of the Constitution devised an elaborate system
of checks and balances to ensure our liberties by making sure
that no person, institution or branch of government became so
powerful that a tyranny could ever be established in the United
States of America.
We are the trustees of that sacred legacy,
and whether the rule of law and faith in our nation emerges
stronger than ever or are diminished irreparably depends upon
the collective decision of the message each senator chooses to
send forth in the days ahead.
The evidence you will hear relates solely to the president's
misconduct, which is contrary to his constitutional public
responsibility to ensure the laws be faithfully executed. It is
about -- it is not about the president's affair with a
subordinate employee, an affair that was both inappropriate and
Mr. Clinton has recognized that this relationship was wrong.
I give him credit for that. But he has not owned up to the
false testimony, the stonewalling, and legal hairsplitting and
obstructing the courts from finding the truth.
In doing so, he has turned his affair into a public wrong,
and for these actions he must be held accountable through the
only constitutional means the country has available: the
difficult and painful process of impeachment.
Impeachment is one of the checks the framers
gave the Congress to protect the American people from a corrupt
or tyrannical executive or judicial branch of government.
Because the procedure is cumbersome and because a two-thirds
vote in the Senate is required to remove an official following
an impeachment trial, safeguards are there to stop Congress from
increasing its powers at the expense of the other two branches.
The process is long. It is difficult. It is unpleasant.
But above all, it is necessary to maintain the public's trust in
the conduct of their elected officials -- elected officials such
as myself and yourselves, who through our oaths of office have a
duty to follow the law, fulfill our constitutional
responsibilities, and protect our republic from public
The framers of the Constitution envisioned a
separate and distinct process in the House and in the Senate.
They did not expect the House and the Senate to conduct
virtually identical proceedings, with the only difference being
that conviction in the Senate requires a two-thirds vote. That
is why the Constitution reserves the sole power of impeachment
to the House of Representatives and the sole power to try all
impeachments to the Senate.
History demonstrates different processes were adopted to
reflect very different roles. In the case of President Andrew
Johnson, no hearings were held or witnesses called by the House
on the president's decision to remove Secretary of War Stanton
from office. The House first approved a general article of
impeachment that simply stated that President Johnson was
impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors.
Five days later, a special House committee
drew up specific articles. Eleven articles were passed by the
House, all but two of which were based upon President Johnson's
alleged violation of the Tenure of Office Act by his actions in
removing Secretary of War Stanton. The trial was then conducted
with witnesses in the Senate.
In the case of President Nixon, the House Judiciary Committee
passed three articles of impeachment, based not upon their own
investigation, but upon the evidence gathered by the Ervin
Committee, the Patman (ps not at the center of the impeachment
In the Judge Walter Nixon impeachment in 1989, a trial with
live witnesses was held even after the Senate rejected, by less
than a two- thirds vote, a defense motion to dismiss one article
of impeachment on the grounds that it did not commit --
constitute an impeachable offense.
The House managers submit witnesses are
essential to give heightened credence to whatever judgment the
Senate choose to make on each of the articles of impeachment
against President Clinton. The matter of how this proceeding
will be conducted remains somewhat unsettled. Senate
impeachment precedent has been to hold a trial, and in every
impeachment case, the Senate has heard from live witnesses.
Should the president's counsel dispute the facts as laid out
by the House of Representatives, the Senate will need to hear
from live witnesses in order to reach a proper and fair judgment
as to the truthful facts of this case.
The House concluded the president made perjurious, false, and
misleading statements before the grand jury, which the House
believes constitutes a high crime and misdemeanor. Our entire
legal system is based upon the court's being able to find the
truth. That's why witnesses must raise their right hand and
swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the
That's why there are criminal penalties for perjury and
making false statements under oath. The need for obtaining
truthful testimony in court is so important that the federal
sentencing guidelines have the same penalties for perjury as for
bribery. The Constitution specifically names bribery as an
impeachable offense. Perjury is the twin brother of bribery. By
making the penalty for perjury the same as that for bribery,
Congress has acknowledged that both crimes are equally serious.
It follows that perjury and making false
statements under oath, which is a form of perjury, be considered
among the high crimes and misdemeanors the framers intended to
be grounds for impeachment.
The three judicial impeachments of the 1980s were all about
lies told by a federal judge. Judge Claiborne was removed from
office for lying on his income tax returns. Judge Hastings was
removed for lying under oath during a trial. And Judge Nixon
was removed for making false statements under oath to a grand
In each case, the Senate showed no leniency to judges who
lie. Their misconduct was deemed impeachable, and more than
two-thirds of the Senate voted to convict them.
If the Senate is convinced that President Clinton lied under
oath and does not remove him from office, the wrong message is
given to our courts, those who have business before them, and to
the country as a whole.
That terrible message is that we as a nation
have set a lower standard for lying under oath for presidents
than for judges. Should not the leader of our country be held
to at least as high as standard as the judges he appoints?
Should not the president be obliged to tell the truth when under
oath, just as every citizen must? Should not our laws be
Your decision in this proceeding will answer these questions
and set the standard of conduct of public officials in town
halls and courtrooms everywhere and the Oval Office for
Justice is never served by the placing of any public official
above the law.
The framers rejected the British law of the
king can do no wrong when they wrote our basic law in 1787. Any
law is only as good as its enforcement, and the enforcement of
the law against the president was left to Congress through the
A Senate conviction of the president in this matter will
reaffirm the irrefutable fact that even the president of the
United States has no license to lie under oath. Deceiving the
courts is an offense against the public. It prevents the courts
from administering justice and citizens from receiving justice.
Every American has a right to go to court for redress of
wrongs, as well as the right to a jury trial. The jury finds
the facts. The citizens on the jury cannot correctly find the
facts absent truthful testimony. That's why it's vital that the
Senate protect the sanctity of the oath to obtain truthful
testimony, not just during judicial proceedings, but also during
legislative proceedings as well.
Witnesses before the Congress, whether presidential nominees
seeking Senate confirmation to high posts in the executive or
judicial branches, federal agency heads testifying during
investigative hearings, or witnesses at legislative hearings
giving their opinions on bills are sworn to tell the truth.
Eroding the oath to tell the truth means that
Congress loses some of its ability to base its decisions upon
truthful testimony. Lowering the standard of truthfulness of
sworn testimony will create a cancer that will keep the
legislative branch from discharging its constitutional functions
Mr. Chief Justice, we are here today because William
Jefferson Clinton decided to use all means possible, both legal
and illegal, to subvert the truth about his conduct relevant to
the federal civil rights suit brought against him by Mrs. Paula
Defendants in civil lawsuits cannot pick and
choose which laws and rules of procedure they follow and which
they will not. That's for the trial judge to decide, whether
the defendant be president or pauper.
In this case, a citizen claimed her civil rights were
violated when she refused then Governor Clinton's advances and
was subsequently harassed at work, denied merit pay raises, and
finally forced to quit. The court ruled she had the right to
obtain evidence showing other women, including Miss Lewinsky,
got jobs, promotions and raises after submitting to Mr. Clinton,
and whether other women suffered job detriments after refusing
When someone lies about an affair and tries to hide the
facts, they violate the trust their spouse and their family put
in them. But when they lie about it during legal proceedings
and obstruct the parties from obtaining evidence, they prevent
the courts from administering justice.
That is an offense against the public, made
even worse when a poor and powerless person seeks the protection
of our civil rights laws from the rich or powerful.
When an American citizen claims his or her civil rights have
been violated, we must take those claims seriously. Our civil
rights laws have remade our society for the better. The law
gives the same protections to the child denied entry to a school
or college based upon race, as to an employee claiming
discrimination at work. Once a hole is punched in civil rights
protections for some, those protections are not worth as much
Many in this Senate have spent their lives advancing
individual rights. Their successful efforts have made America a
better place. In my opinion, this is no time to abandon that
struggle, no matter what the political mood and no matter what
the political consequence.
Some have said that the false testimony given
by the president relating to sex should be excused since, as the
argument goes, everyone lies about sex. I would ask the Senate
to stop and think about the consequences of adopting that
attitude. Our sexual harassment laws would become
unenforceable, since every sexual harassment suit is about sex.
And much of the domestic violence litigation in our country is
at least partly about sex.
If defendants in these types of suits are allowed to lie
about sex, justice cannot be done, and many victims, mostly
women, will be denied justice.
Mr. Chief Justice, the House has adopted two articles of
impeachment against President William Jefferson Clinton. Each
meets the standard of high crimes and misdemeanors, and each is
amply supported by the evidence.
Article I impeaches the president for
perjurious, false and misleading testimony during his August 17,
1998 appearance before a grand jury of the United States, in
First, the nature and details of his relationship with a
subordinate government employee.
Second, prior perjurious, false and misleading testimony he
gave in a federal civil rights action brought against him.
Third, prior, false and misleading statements he allowed his
attorney to make to a federal judge in that federal civil rights
Fourth, his corrupt efforts to influence the testimony of
witnesses and to impede the discovery of evidence in that
federal civil rights action.
The evidence will clearly show that President Clinton's false
testimony to the grand jury was not a single or isolated
instance which could be excused as a mistake, but rather a
comprehensive and calculated plan to prevent the grand jury from
getting the accurate testimony in order to do its job.
Furthermore, it is important to dispel the
notion that the president's false testimony before the grand
jury simply relates to the details of the relationship between
President Clinton and Ms. Lewinsky.
These charges make up only a small part of Article I. The
fact is the evidence will show that President Clinton made
numerous perjurious, false and misleading statements regarding
his efforts to obstruct justice.
Before describing what the evidence and support of Article I
shows, it is also important to clearly demonstrate that the
Senate has already decided that making false statements under
oath to a federal grand jury is an impeachable offense.
The last impeachment decided by the Senate,
that of United States District Judge Walter L. Nixon, Jr. of the
United States District Court for the Southern District of
Mississippi, involved the judge's making false statements under
oath to a federal grand jury, precisely the same charges
contained in Article I against President Clinton.
Following a unanimous 417-to-nothing vote in the House, the
Senate conducted a full trial and removed Judge Nixon from
office on the two articles charging false statements to a grand
jury by votes of 89-8 and 78-19.
The Senate was clear that the specific misconduct -- that is,
making false statements to a grand jury, which was the basis for
the judge's impeachment -- warranted his removal from office,
and the Senate proceeding to do just that.
These votes, a little more than nine years ago on November 3,
1989, set a clear standard that lying to a grand jury is grounds
for removal from office.
To set a different standard in this trial is
to say that the standard for judicial truthfulness during grand
jury testimony is higher than that of presidential truthfulness.
That result would be absurd. The truth is the truth, and a lie
is a lie. There cannot be different levels of truth for judges
than for presidents.
The president's perjurious, false, and misleading statements
regarding his relationship with Ms. Lewinsky began early in his
grand jury testimony. These statements included parts of the
prepared statement the president read at the beginning of the
testimony. He referred or reverted to this statement at least
19 times during the course of the testimony.
Further, the evidence will show the president made other
false statements to the grand jury regarding the nature and
details of his relationship with Ms. Lewinsky at times when he
did not refer to his prepared statement.
Second, the evidence will show that the
president piled perjury upon perjury when he provided
perjurious, false and misleading statement -- testimony to the
grand jury concerning prior perjurious, false and misleading
testimony given in Mrs. Paula Jones' case.
On two occasions, the president testified to the grand jury
that his deposition testimony was the truth, the whole truth and
nothing but the truth, and that he was required to give a
complete answer to each question asked of him during the
deposition. That means he brought to the grand jury his
untruthful answers to questions at the deposition.
Third, the evidence will show the president provided a
perjurious, false and misleading testimony to a federal grand
jury regarding his attorney's use of an affidavit he knew to be
false during the deposition in Mrs. Paula Jones' case before
federal Judge Susan Webber Wright.
The president denied that he even paid
attention to Mr. Bennett's use of the affidavit. The evidence
will show he made this denial because his failure to stop his
attorney from utilizing a false affidavit at a deposition would
constitute an obstruction of justice.
The evidence will also show the president did not admit that
Mr. Bennett's statement was false, because to do so would be to
admit that he had perjured himself earlier that day during the
grand jury testimony as well as at the deposition.
Fourth, the evidence will show that the president provided
perjurious, false and misleading testimony to the grand jury
concerning his corrupt efforts to influence the testimony of
witnesses and to impede the discovery of evidence in Mrs. Paula
Jones' civil rights action.
The evidence will show that these statements
related to at least four areas.
First, his statements relating to gifts exchanged between the
president and Ms. Lewinsky. The subpoena served on Ms. Lewinsky
in the Jones case required her to produce each and every gift
she had received from the president. These gifts were not
turned over as required by the subpoena, but ended up under Ms.
Betty Currie's bed in a sealed container.
The president denied under oath that he directed Ms. Currie
to get the gifts, but the evidence will show that Ms. Currie did
call Ms. Lewinsky about them and that there was no reason for
her doing so unless directed by the president.
Second, the president made perjurious, false and misleading
statements to the grand jury regarding his knowledge that the
Lewinsky affidavit submitted at the deposition was untrue. The
evidence will show that the president testified falsely on this
issue on at least three separate occasions during his grand jury
He also provided false testimony on whether
he encouraged Ms. Lewinsky to file a false affidavit.
Third, the president made false and misleading statements to
the grand jury by reciting a false account of the facts
regarding his interactions with Ms. Lewinsky and Ms. Currie, who
was a potential witness against him in Mrs. Jones' case. The
record reflects the president tried to coach Ms. Currie to
recite inaccurate answers to possible questions should she be
called as a witness.
The evidence will show the president testified to the grand
jury that he was trying to figure out what the facts were, but
in reality the conversation with Ms. Currie consisted of another
of very false and misleading statements.
Finally, the president made perjurious, false and misleading
statements to aides regarding his relationship with Ms.
In his grand jury testimony, the president
tried to have it both ways on this issue: he testified that his
statements to aides were both true and misleading, true and
The evidence will show that he met with four aides who would
later be called to testify before the grand jury. They included
Mr. Sidney Blumenthal, Mr. John Podesta, Mr. Erskine Bowles, and
Mr. Harold Ickes. Each of them related to the grand jury the
untruths they had been told by the president.
I have recited this long catalogue of false statements to
show that the president's false statements to the grand jury
were neither few in number nor isolated, but rather pervaded his
There can be no question that the president's false
statements to the grand jury were material to the subject of the
inquiry. Grand juries are utilized to obtain sworn
testimony from witnesses to determine whether a crime has been
committed. The attorney general and the Special Division of the
United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
Circuit appointed an independent counsel pursuant to law, and
added areas of inquiry because they believe that there was
evidence that the president may have committed crimes.
Grand jury testimony relevant to the criminal probe is always
material to the issue of materiality whether someone has
committed a crime, based upon the precedent in the Judge Nixon
impeachment, the law, the facts and the evidence. If you find
the president made perjurious, false and misleading statements
under oath to the grand jury, I respectfully submit that your
duty will be to find William Jefferson Clinton guilty with
respect to Article I and to remove him from office.
Article II impeaches William Jefferson Clinton for
preventing, obstructing and impeding the administration of
justice in Mrs. Paula Jones' case by either directly or through
subordinates and agents engaging in a scheme to delay, impede,
cover up and conceal the existence of evidence and testimony
relating to Mrs. Jones' federal civil rights action.
As in the case of Article I, the president's
direct and indirect actions were not isolated mistakes, but were
multi-faceted actions specifically designed to prevent Mrs.
Paula Jones from having her day in court.
While the Senate determined in the Judge Nixon trial that the
making of false statements to a federal grand jury warranted
conviction and removal from office, no impeachment on an
obstruction of justice charge has ever reached the Senate.
Therefore, this article is a matter of first impression.
However, the impeachment inquiry of the House Judiciary
Committee into the conduct of President Richard Nixon, as well
as the relevant federal criminal statutes, clearly show
President Clinton's actions to be within the definition of high
crimes and misdemeanors contained in the Constitution.
The first article of impeachment against
President Nixon approved by the Judiciary Committee charged Mr.
Nixon with "engaging personally and through his subordinates
and agents in a course of conduct or plan designed to delay,
impede, and obstruct the investigation of such unlawful entry;
to cover up, conceal, and protect those responsible; and to
conceal the existence and scope of other unlawful activities."
The article charged that the implementation of the plan
included nine separate areas of misconduct. Included among
these were: One, making or causing to be made false and
misleading statements to investigative officers and employees of
the United States; two, withholding relevant and material
evidence from such persons; three, approving, condoning,
acquiescing in and counseling witnesses with respect to the
giving of false and misleading statements to such persons as
well as in judicial and congressional proceedings.
History shows us that President Nixon's
resignation was the only act that prevented the Senate from
voting on this article and that the president's conviction and
removal from office were all but certain.
There are two sections of the Federal Criminal Code placing
penalties on those who obstruct justice. Title 18, United
States Code, Section 1503, punishes quote, "whoever corruptly
or by threats or force obstructs or impedes or endeavors to
influence, obstruct or impede the due administration of
The courts have held that this section relates to pending
judicial process which can be a civil action. Mrs. Jones' case
fits that definition at the time of the president's actions as
alleged in Article II, as does the Office of Independent Counsel
Title 18, United States Code, Section 1512 punishes quote,
"whoever corruptly persuades another person or attempts to do
so, or engages in misleading conduct toward another person with
intent to influence, delay or prevent the testimony of any
person in an official proceeding. Or cause or induce any person
to withhold testimony or withhold a record, document or other
object from an official proceeding."
The evidence will show that President
Clinton's actions constituted obstruction of justice in seven
specific instances as alleged in Article II. Paragraph one
alleges that on or about December 17, 1997, the president
encouraged Miss Lewinsky, who would be subpoenaed as a witness
in Ms. Jones case two days later, to execute a sworn affidavit
he knew would be perjurious, false and misleading. The evidence
will show the president's actions violated both federal criminal
Second, Article II alleges that on or about
that same day, the president corruptly encouraged Ms. Lewinsky
to give perjurious, false and misleading testimony if and when
called to testify personally, in that proceeding.
Ms. Lewinsky, on the witness list at that time, could have
been expected to be required to give live testimony in the
Jones' case. And in fact, she was subsequently subpoenaed for a
deposition in that case.
he evidence will show the president's actions violated both federal criminal obstruction statutes.
Third, Article II alleges that on or about December 28, 1997, the president corruptly engaged in, encouraged or supported a scheme to conceal evidence which had been subpoenaed in Mrs. Jones' civil rights case. He did so by asking Ms. Betty Currie to retrieve evidence from Ms. Lewinsky that had been subpoenaed in the case of Jones v. Clinton.
The evidence will show the president's actions violated the second federal criminal obstruction statute.
Fourth, Article II alleges that beginning on or about December 7th, 1997, and continuing through and including January 14th, 1998, the president intensified and succeeded in an effort to secure job assistance to Miss Lewinsky in order to corruptly prevent her truthful testimony in the Jones case at a time when her truthful testimony would have been harmful to him.
While Miss Lewinsky had sought employment in New York City long before the dates in question, helping her find a suitable job was clearly a low priority for the president and his associates until it became obvious she would become a witness in the Jones case.
The evidence will clearly show an intensification of that effort after her name appeared on the witness list.
This effort was ultimately successful and the
evidence will show that the president's actions violated both
federal obstruction statutes.
Fifth, Article II alleges that on January 17, 1998, the
president corruptly allowed his attorney to make false and
misleading statements to Judge Wright, characterizing the
Lewinsky affidavit in order to prevent questioning deemed
relevant by the judge. The president's attorney Robert Bennett
subsequently acknowledged such false and misleading statements
in a communication to Judge Wright. The evidence will show the
president's actions clearly violated the second federal criminal
Sixth, Article II alleges that on or about January 18, 20 and
21, 1998, the president related a false and misleading account
of events relevant to Mrs. Jones' civil rights suit to Ms. Betty
Currie, a potential witness in the proceeding, in order to
corruptly influence her testimony.
The evidence will show that President Clinton
attempted to influence the testimony of Ms. Betty Currie, his
personal secretary, by coaching her to recite inaccurate answers
to possible questions that might be asked of her, if called to
testify in Ms. Paula Jones' case.
The president did this shortly after he had been deposed in
the criminal action -- excuse me, in the civil action. During
the deposition, he frequently referred to Ms. Currie and it was
logical that, based upon his testimony, Ms. Currie would be
called as a witness.
The evidence will show that two hours after the completion of
the deposition, the president called Ms. Currie to ask her to
come to the office the next day, which was a Sunday.
When Ms. Currie testified to the grand jury, she acknowledged
that the president made a series of leading statements or
questions and concluded that the president wanted her to agree
The evidencd will show that the president's actions violated
both statutes, but most particularly, Section 1512. In United
States vs. Rodalitz (ph), the United States Court of Appeals for
the Second Circuit said quote, "the most obvious example of a
section 1512 violation may be the situtation where a defendant
tells a potential witness a false story as if the story were
true, intending that he witness believed the story and testified
it -- testified to it before the grand jury."
If the president's actions do not fit this
example, I am at a loss to know what actions do.
Seventh, and last, Article II alleges that on or about
January 21, 23, and 26, 1998, the president made false and
misleading statements to potential witnesses in a federal grand
jury proceeding in order to corruptly influence the testimony of
those witnesses. The article further alleges these false and
misleading statements were repeated by the witnesses to the
grand jury, causing the grand jury to receive false and
The evidence will show these statements were
made to presidential aides Mr. Sidney Blumenthal, Mr. Erskine
Bowles, Mr. John Podesta and Mr. Harold Ickes. They all
testified to the grand jury. By his own admission seven months
later on August 17th, 1998, during his sworn grand jury
testimony, the president said that he told a number of aides
that he did not have an affair with Miss Lewinsky and did not
have sex with her. He told one aide, Mr. Sidney Blumenthal,
that Miss Monica Lewinsky came on to him and that he rebuffed
President Clinton also admitted that he knew those aides
might be called before the grand jury as witnesses. The
evidence will show they were called, they related the
president's false statements to the grand jury, and that by the
time the president made his admission to the grand jury, the
damage had already been done.
This is a classic violation of Title XVIII,
United States Code, Section 1512.
The seven specific allegations of obstruction of justice
contained in Article II were designed to prevent the judicial
branch of government -- a separate and co-equal branch -- from
doing its work in Mrs. Paula Jones' lawsuit.
Based upon the allegation of Article I against President
Nixon in 1974, as well as the repeated and calculated violations
of two key criminal obstruction statutes, William Jefferson
Clinton committed an impeachable offense.
In Article II, the evidence is conclusive that President
Clinton put himself above the law in obstructing justice, not
once, not just a few times, but as a part of an extensive scheme
to prevent Mrs. Jones from obtaining the evidence she thought
she needed to prove her civil rights claims.
Complying with the law is the duty of all parties to lawsuits
and those who are required to give truthful testimony. A
defendant in a federal civil rights action does not have the
luxury to choose what evidence the court may consider.
He or she must abide by the law and abide by
the rules of procedure.
William Jefferson Clinton tried to say that the law did not
apply to him during his term of office as far as civil cases
were concerned. He properly lost that argument in the United
States Supreme Court in a unanimous decision. Even though the
Supreme Court decided that the president wasn't above the law,
and that Mrs. Jones' case could proceed, William Jefferson
Clinton decided -- and decided alone -- to act as if the Supreme
Court had never acted and that Judge Wright's orders didn't
apply to him.
What he did was criminal time and time again. These criminal
acts were in direct conflict with the president's obligation to
take care that the laws be faithfully executed. Based upon the
repeated violations of federal criminal law, it's affect upon
the court's to find the truth, and the president's duty to take
care that the laws be faithfully executed, if you find that the
president did indeed obstruct the administration of justice
through his acts, I respectfully submit that your duty will be
to find William Jefferson Clinton guilty with respect to Article
II and to remove him from office.
It is truly sad when the leader of the
greatest nation in the world gets caught up in a series of
events where one inappropriate and criminal act leads to another
and another and another. Even sadder is that the president
himself could have stopped this process simply by telling the
truth and accepting the consequences of his prior mistakes.
At least six times since December 17th, 1997, William
Jefferson Clinton could have told the truth and suffered the
consequences. Instead, he chose lies, perjury and deception.
He could have told the truth when he first learned that Miss
Lewinsky would be a witness in Mrs. Jones' case. He could have
told the truth at his civil deposition. He could have told the
truth to Betty Currie.
He could have told the truth when the news
media first broke the story of his affair. He could have told
the truth to his aides and cabinet. He could have told the
truth to the American people.
Instead, he shook his finger at each and every American and
said, "I want you to listen to me," and proceeded to tell a
straight-faced lie to the American people.
Finally, he had one more opportunity to tell the truth. He
could have told the truth to the grand jury.
Had he told the truth last January, there would have been no
independent counsel investigation of this matter, no grand jury
appearance, no impeachment inquiry, and no House approval of
articles of impeachment, and we would not be here today
fulfilling a painful and essential constitutional duty.
Instead, he chose lies and deception despite warnings from
friends, aides and members of the House and Senate that failure
to tell the truth would have grave consequences.
When the case against him was being heard by
the House Judiciary Committee, he sent his lawyers who did not
present any new evidence or rebut the facts and evidence sent to
the House by the independent counsel.
Rather, they disputed the committee's interpretation of the
evidence by relying on tortured, convoluted and unreasonable
interpretations of the president's words and action.
During his presentation to the House Judiciary Committee, the
president's very able lawyer, Charles Ruff, was asked directly:
Did the president lie during his sworn grand jury testimony?
Mr. Ruff could have answered that question directly, but he
did not. And his failure to do so speaks a thousand words. Is
there not something sacred when a witness in a judicial
proceeding raises his or her right hand and swears before God
and the public to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing
but the truth?
Do we want to tell the country that its
leader gets a pass when he's required to give testimony under
oath? Should we not be concerned about the effect of allowing
perjurious, false and misleading statements by the president to
go unpunished on the truthfulness of anyone's testimony in
future judicial and legislative proceedings?
And what do we tell the approximately 115 people now in
federal prison for the crime of perjury? The answers to all of
these questions ought to be obvious.
As elected officials, our opinions are frequently shaped by
constituents telling us their own story. Let me tell you one
related to me about the poisonous results of allowing false
statements under oath to go unpunished.
Last October, when the Starr report was being
hotly debated, one circuit court judge for Dodge County,
Wisconsin approached me on the street in Mayville, Wisconsin.
He said that some citizens had business in his court and
suggested that one of them take the witness stand and be put
under oath to tell the truth. The citizen then asked the judge
if he could tell the truth, just like the president.
How many people who have come to court to testify under oath
about matters they could like to keep to themselves think about
what that citizen asked Judge John Stork (ph)? And how will the
courts be able to administer the equal justice under law we all
hold so dear, if we do not enforce the sanctity of that oath
even against the president of the United States?
When each of us is elected or chosen to serve
in public office, we make a compact with the people of the
United States of America to conduct ourselves in an honorable
manner, hopefully setting a higher standard for ourselves than
we expect of others. That should mean we are careful to obey all
the laws we make, execute and interpret.
There is more than truth in the words, "a public office is a
public trust." When someone breaks that trust, he or she must
be held accountable and suffer the consequences for the breach.
If there is no accountability, that means that a presiustice, poses a far greater threat to the
liberties guaranteed to the American people by the Constitution
than anything imaginable.
For the past 11 months, the toughest questions I've had to
answer come from parents who want to know what to tell their
children about what President Clinton did.
Every parent tries to teach their children to
know the difference between right and wrong, to always tell the
truth, and when they make mistakes to take responsibility for
them and to face the consequences of their actions.
President Clinton's actions at every step since he knew Miss
Lewinsky would be a witnesses in Mrs. Jones's case have been
completely opposite to the values parents hope to teach their
But being a poor example is not grounds for impeachment.
Undermining the rule of law is. Frustrating the courts' ability
to administer justice turns private misconduct into an attack
upon the ability of one of the three branches of our government
to impartially administer justice.
That is a direct attack upon the rule of law
in our country and a very public wrong that goes to the
constitutional workings of our government and its ability to
protect the civil rights of even the weakest American.
What is on trial here is the truth and the rule of law.
Failure to bring President Clinton to account for his serial
lying under oath and preventing the courts from administering
equal justice under law will cause a cancer to be present in our
society for generations.
Those parents who have asked the question should be able to
tell their children that even if you are the president of the
United States, if you lie when sworn to tell the truth, the
whole truth and nothing but the truth, you will face the
consequences of that action even when you will not accept the
responsibility for it.
How those parents answer those questions is
up to the United States Senate.
While how today's parents answer those questions is
important, equally important is what parents tell their children
in the generations to come about the history of our country and
what has set our government in the United States of America
apart from the rest of the world. Above the president's dais in
this Senate chamber appears our national motto: E Pluribus Unum
-- out of many, one.
When that motto was adopted more than 200 years ago, the
first Congress referred to how 13 separate colonies turned
themselves into one united nation. As the decades have gone by,
that motto has taken additional meaning. People of all
nationalities, faiths, creeds and values have come to our
shores, shed their allegiances to their old countries and
achieved their dreams to become Americans.
They came here to flee religious persecution;
to escape corrupt, tyrannical and oppressive governments; and to
leave behind the economic stagnation and endless wars of their
homelands. They came here to be able to practice their faiths as
they saw fit, free of government dictates, and to be able to
provide better lives for themselves and for their families by
the sweat of their own brows and the use of their own intellect.
But they also came here because they knew America has a
system of government where the Constitution and laws protect
individual liberties and human rights. Everyone -- yes,
everyone -- can argue that this country has been a beacon for
the individual citizen's ability to be what he or she can be.
They fled countries where rulers ruled at the expense of the
people; to America where the leaders are expected to govern for
the benefit of the people.
And throughout the years America's leaders
have tried to earn the trust of the American people not by their
words, but by their actions.
America is a place where government exists by the consent of
the governed, and that means our nation's leaders must earn and
re-earn the trust of the people with everything they do.
Whenever an elected official stumbles, that trust is eroded
an public cynicism goes up. The more cynicism that exists about
government, its institutions, and those chosen to serve in them,
the more difficult the job is for those who are serving.
And that's why it's important, yes vital, that when a cancer
exists in the body politic, our job, our duty, is to excise it.
If we fail in our duty, I fear that difficult and dedicated work
done by thousands of honorable men and women elected to serve,
not just here in Washington, but in our state capitals, city
halls, courthouses, and school board rooms, will be swept away
in a sea of public cynicism.
We must not allow the beacon of America to
grow dim or the American dream to disappear with each waking
morning. In 1974, Congress did its painful duty when the
president of the United States broke the public trust.
During the last decade, both Houses impeached and removed
from office three federal judges who broke their trust with the
people. During the last 10 years, the House of Representatives
disciplined two speakers for breaking the rules and their trust
with the public.
And less than six years ago, this honorable Senate did the
same thing to a senior senator whose accomplishments were widely
In each case Congress did the right thing to
help restore the vital trust upon which our government depends.
It wasn't easy, nor was it always popular. But Congress did the
Now this honorable Senate must do the right thing. It must
listen to the evidence. It must determine whether William
Jefferson Clinton repeatedly broke our criminal laws and thus
broke his trust with the people. A trust contained in the
presidential oath, put into the Constitution by the framers. An
oath that no other federal official must take. An oath to
ensure that the laws be faithfully executed.
How the Senate decides the issues to be presented in this
trial will determine the legacy that we pass to future
generations of Americans. The Senate can follow the legacy of
those who made America what it is. The Senate can follow the
legacy of those who put their lives, fortunes and sacred honor
on the line when they signed the Declaration of Independence.
The Senate can follow the legacy of the framers of the
Constitution, whose preamble states that one of its purposes is
to establish justice.
The Senate can follow the legacy of James
Madison and the members of the first Congress, who wrote and
passed the Bill of Rights to preserve the liberties of the
American people. The Senate can follow the legacy of those who
achieved equal rights for all Americans during the 1960s in
Congress, in the courts, on the streets, and in the buses and at
the lunch counters.
The Senate can follow the legacy of those who brought
President Nixon to justice during Watergate, in the belief that
no president can place himself above the law. The Senate can
follow the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt, who lived and governed
by the principle that no man is above the law.
Within the walls of the capitol and throughout this great
country, their rages an impassioned and divisive debate over the
future of this presidency.
This Senate now finds itself in the midst of
the tempest. An already immense and agonizing duty is made even
more so because of the whims of public opinion polls, the
popularity and unpopularity of individuals, even questions over
the strength of our economy, risks assuming the true of this
nature of this grave and unwelcome task.
We have all anguished over the sequence of events that have
led us to this, the conclusive stage of this process. We have
all identified in our own minds where it could have and should
have stopped. But we have ended up here, before the Senate of
the United States, where you the senators will have to render
judgment based upon the facts.
A scientist in search of the basic nature of a substance
begins by boiling away what is not of the essence.
Similarly, the Senate will sift through the
layers of debris, the trial, the truth. The residue of this
painful and divisive process is bitter, even poisonous at times,
but beneath it lies the answer.
The evidence will show that at its core, the question over
the president's guilt and the need for his conviction will be
clear. Because at its core, the issues involved are basic
questions of right versus wrong; deceptive, criminal behavior
versus honesty, integrity and respect for the law.
The president engaged in a conspiracy of crimes to prevent
justice from being served. These are impeachable offenses for
which the president should be convicted. Over the course of the
days and weeks to come, we, the House managers, will endeavor to
make this case.
May these proceedings be fair and thorough, may they embody
our highest capacity for truth and mutual respect.
With these principles as our guides, we can
begin with the full knowledge our democracy will prevail and our
nation will emerge a stronger, better place.
Our legacy now must be not to lose the trust the people
should have in our nation's leaders. Our legacy now must be not
to cheapen the legacies left by our forbearers. Our legacy must
be to do the right thing based upon the evidence. And for the
sake of our country, the Senate must not fail.