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tv   President Bill Clinton Impeachment - House Floor Debate  CSPAN  December 16, 2019 12:00am-1:31am EST

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what the presidential candidates plan to do across the nation. as a graduate of a historically black college and now an employee in south carolina, i want to hear more about what the candidate planned to do to since in thisain us financially challenging time. >> and the second of a three-part program, we would back to the 1998 and 1999 impeachment of president bill clinton. she is now a correspondent for the newspaper. we show a portion of the u.s. house floor debate on four articles of impeachment. the house voted to approve two of the articles, making bill
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clinton only the second president in u.s. history to be impeached since andrew johnson. >> on december 18th and 19th, the house of representatives is taking up articles of impeachment against bill clinton. we will show you some of the highlights coming up. how theselaining articles moved from the house judiciary committee to the floor within a week. >> passed out of the house judiciary committee and there was a lot of discussion about what the rules would be. rules meaning, with the investigation be limited? they had already undertaken that how it couldlished run very widely.
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even just to the monica lewinsky question. themselves -- democrats sought to keep that from happening. the rules were established. our memory is that the republicans were in control of the committee and they were the ones that were guiding it and moved very swiftly. the house floor was ready to take it up under republican leadership at the time. we went through the first few speakers. gingrich -- newt gingrich. what happened? >> there was a scramble to try to figure out some of rob livingston's allies tried to talk him out of it.
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he had made the decision to resign with some agony. because there was full on press and the democratic world. information onor any republicans involved in impeachment who had had extramarital relationships. became reported. in distractions and his own marital life. most my colleagues and especially my wife and family, i have hurt you all deeply and i beg your forgiveness. i was prepared to lead our narrow majority as eager and i do ave i had it in me to fine job, but i cannot do that fine job. >> he was not the only one.
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there were other house members. there was a house member who confessed to his wife, absolutely certain that it was going to be published and it never was so he had fessed up to his wife proactively, trying to head off what he thought was going to be a disaster. president clinton and his defenders knew that there were a variety of house members at the time who had a reputation for stepping out on their family relationships, that were not expected. in this case, denny hastert became the speaker after livingston was drafted unexpectedly. he took some time to think about it. initially, he said no, he would not do it. he went and prayed about it and said he would do it. he was the unexpected and reluctant speaker.
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we understood as we headed into thisolidays that there was terrain of everyone celebrating the end of the year and the holidays. i remember at the white house, christmasan annual party, press party. it was a very dour event because the president did not show up, that would have been very strange. hillary clinton, the first lady did it by herself. unhappy, meeting with the press. she was very angry with her husband, but also with the news media as well. >> if you could put a footnote on his career? >> we did not realize at the time.
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coach been a very quiet early in his life. he left office and it later became apparent through a legal payingat he had been basically blackmail money to a hadg man, a student who he coached and had improper relations with this young man. had been paying big money for a long period of time, trying to beingt, and he ended up prosecuted and convicted for the money she had paid. >> the democrats put forward efforts. >> they were trying to figure out if there was an effort that
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would stop short of impeachment. one was, trying to encourage the house republicans to buy into censure. there was a rejection because the republicans argued that a resolution of censure was meaningless in the large scheme of things. the punishment -- he deserved to be removed from office. a vote of impeachment, which had ,nly happened once before because richard nixon had resigned before the house impeached him -- they felt that would be a lasting legacy, no matter what happened in the senate. it came back in the senate. there was discussion about whether it was worth it to try to argue to have the articles of
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impeachment dismissed. would it be worth filing a motion to have it dismissed? punish theefforts to president without actually impeaching him. the house republicans absolutely determined to move ahead. why? what is motivating them? what was the gop strategy? >> in the world that they lived it was so offensive. a lot of these lawmakers were in districts where bill clinton was not necessarily popular as he was nationwide. senator lindsey graham even talked about, looking back on it, the view of the house republican managers was not in sync with where the public was
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about the president's personal behavior or feelings because they were willing to see this as a personal misbehavior of a that was part of his family relationship. instead, the house republicans felt like it was a violation of the oath of office and that he had done damage to the nation and deserved to be punished for it. it was very vigorous, but it also showcased stark differences that were argued. the democrats were able to put up a defense that went along the democratic talking points. effort to getan
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back at bill clinton for his reelection and the republicans were really offering a passionate and determined violated that he had his constitutional oath of office. there was a lot of passion on all sides. is a portion of that debate. it was in the 19th year. the impeachment of president clinton. resolution impeaching foriam jefferson clinton high crimes and misdemeanors. 19 98, the 18, resolution is debatable for one additional hour, equally divided among the gentlemen.
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>> mr. speaker, i am pleased to recognize the gentle lady california for one minute. >> recognized for one minute. >> thank you, mr. speaker. i rise to strongly disagree with this flawed and democratic process. this march impeachment is an attempt to undo and overthrow a duly elected president and ignores the will of the people. it creates the appearance of one-party autocracy, which history has proven can lead to authoritarian rule. this coup underscores that their only goal is to turn back the clock on an agenda that puts people first, and agenda that will cancel policies that basic humancs --
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rights. a good public education that insists on a working wage, that protects our environment and supports the bill of rights and preserves social security. the process is cynical and dangerous. they stood on the wrong side of history, but we must restore respectat communicates for the constitution. >> gentlemen from illinois. yield oneirman, i minute to the gentleman from south carolina. >> gentlemen from south carolina is recognized. of thees and gentlemen house, there is a long and difficult process -- >> the house will be in order. what's this long and difficult
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process is almost a conclusion. ago, a democratic controlled judiciary committee with the minority of republicans reported articles of impeachment against richard nixon. why? nixon cheated. systemted the electoral and his people thought the other side deserved to be cheated. they thought his enemies deserved to be mistreated. ladies and gentlemen, they were wrong. today, republicans, with a small handful of democrats, will vote to impeach president clinton. why? because we believe he committed crimes resulting in cheating our legal system. we believe he lied under oath numerous times, that he tempered with evidence, that he conspired to present false testimony to a court of law. we believe he has sullied our
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legal system in every way. let it be said that any president who cheats our institutions shall be impeached. >> i'm pleased to recognize now the gentleman from wisconsin. >> recognized for one minute. >> mr. speaker, like all my colleagues, i've spent a great deal of time during the judiciary committee testimony of evidence. let me make absolutely clear i do not condone the behavior of the president, but the framers made it clear that the constitutional act of impeachment is not meant to punish a president for deplorable behavior, but to protect our nation from acts which jeopardize our democratic system. what the president did was wrong morally, but it does not threaten our democracy or rise to the level of impeachable offenses as defined by our founding fathers in our constitution. i do believe that the president should be held accountable for his actions and would support an alternative to impeachment.
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it would both condemn his actions and find him. they considered a resolution which we in the full house are being denied the opportunity to debate and vote on today. our founding fathers designed impeachment specifically to protect the nation from great harm. from a chief executive who clearly endangers our constitutional democracy. mr. speaker, i do not believe the president's actions meet this test. the penalty for his misconduct should not be exacted through impeachment, but through our criminal court system and stern censure by this congress. >> gentleman from illinois. >> mr. speaker, i'm pleased to yield two minutes to the distinguished gentleman from louisiana, mr. livingston. >> gentleman from louisiana is recognized for two minutes. >> without objection? >> mr. speaker, i rise with the fondest hopes that the
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bitterness engendered in this debate will, at its conclusion, be put aside, and all members will return to their families for the holidays, mindful to what has been done here as agents of principal. we have fulfilled our duty to our magnificent constitution. yes, our young men and women in the uniformed armed services in these last few days set about the task of ridding the earth of the threat of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of an enemy of civilization, saddam hussein. and they have performed their tasks with valor and fortitude, that we may freely engage in this most unpleasant aspect of self-government, as was envisioned by our forefathers. i very much regret the hostility enmity that has been bred in
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the halls of congress for the last months and years. i want so very much to pacify and cool our raging tempers and return to an era where differences were confined to the debate and not of personal attack or assassination of character. i am proud to serve in this institution. and i respect every member of this body. each of us stands here because a majority of roughly 600,000 people had the confidence to best us with this authority to act as their agents in a representative democracy. when given the chance, we often find that aside from political and partisan differences, we have much in common with one another. but we never discover what the common ground may be with the gulf between the sides of this narrow aisle. the debate has done nothing to bring us together. and i greatly regret that it has
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become, quite literally, the opening gambit of the openly -- the intended livingston speakership. i most certainly would have written a different scenario had i had the chance. pawns on thel chessboard and we are playing parts in the drama that is neither fiction nor unimportant. indeed, it is of utmost significance in the course of american history. and my desire to create an environment for healing must and theser precedent search for a possibility, -- but we must find the search for responsibility, duty, and justice in the format with the u.s. constitution. i believe we are in active pursuit of these goals, and i give great credit to chairman hyde and mr. conyers.
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and mr. tom mooney, and all of the members of staff, majority and minority, the deliberate and conscientious effort on this most difficult task. we are nearing completion. and however the vote turns out, no one may say that we owned up -- did not own up to our constitutional responsibility as members of congress in a careful, respectful, and insightful debate. much credit is due our presiding officer, who has done an outstanding job. [applause] ladies and gentlemen, we differ on process. the minority believes we acted in view of the troops in the field and that we omitted an alternative from the options available for consideration. we in the majority believe we have properly begun the debate after setting aside a whole day to honor and praise our troops for the effort they're extending on our behalf.
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general schwarzkopf, the commander of the troop in iraq several years ago agreed with us on the brian williams show on msnbc just two nights ago. we believe that the constitution envisioned at censure not be part of the debate on whether or not to impeach the president. and we are supported by comments by then majority leader tip o'neill during the nixon impeachment proceedings. so there are differences and -- in process. what about substance? the minority has maintained the president has not perjured himself, and that even if he did, search perjury was not in -- such perjury was not in high crimes delineated in article two, section four of our constitution. surely no president has been impeached for perjury, but three federal judges have been impeached and convicted under the perjury statutes. and so perjury, a felony punishable by up to five years in the penitentiary, is a crime
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for which the president may be held accountable, no matter the circumstances. perjury is a felony, as i said, and currently 116 people are serving time in federal prison as we speak for perjury today. and yes, there have been several instances of people going to prison, filing convictions for perjury involving lies under oath, under sexual circumstances. the average citizen knows that he or she must not lie under oath. ms. christine sims of rockville, maryland wrote to the judiciary committee just two weeks ago and said "i too was called upon to give answers under oath and in derogatory's during a civil proceeding. truthful answers to those questions would be embarrassing to me. and what i knew exposed me to
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criticism and had a potential to ruin my life, particularly as it related to my children, whom i love very much. in short, i was scared to tell the truth. however, i did just that. i could not lie, when i was sworn to tell the truth, no matter what the risks nor the degree of temptation to take the easy way out. parts of my life have been difficult since that time because elements of that testimony have been used to scorn me. but i, as a common citizen, was compelled on my conscience to tell the truth." yes, our nation is founded on law and not the whim of men. there is no divine right of presidents. a president is an ordinary citizen vested with the power to govern and sworn to preserve, protect and defend the constitution of the united date. -- state.
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-- united states. inherent in that oath is a responsibility to live within its laws, with no higher or lower expectations than the average citizen. just like ms. sims. when the president appeared at the deposition of ms. jones and secondly before the federal grand jury, he was sworn to a second oath, to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you god. this according to witnesses to the judiciary committee before the special counsel, he did not do. for this, i will vote to impeach the president of the united date . -- united states. i ask these cases be considered by the u.s. senate and the other body of this great congress uphold their responsibility to render justice on these most serious charges. but to the president, i would say, sir, you have done great damage to this nation over this past year. and while your defenders are contending that further
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impeachment proceedings would only protract and exacerbate the damage to this country, i'd say that you have the power to terminate that damage and heal the wounds that you have created. you, sir, may resign your post. [booing] [gavel] >> house will be in order. --and [booing] >> the house will be in order. >> and i can only challenge you in such fashion if i am willing to heed my own words. to my colleagues, my friends, and most especially my wife and family, i have hurt you all deeply and i beg your forgiveness. i was prepared to lead our
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narrow majority as speaker, and i believe i had it in me to do a fine job. but i cannot do that job or be the kind of leader that i would like to be under current circumstances. so i must set the example that i hope president clinton will follow. i will not stand for speaker of the house on january 6, but rather i shall remain as a backbencher in this congress that i so dearly love for approximately six months, whereupon i shall vacate my seat and ask my governor to call a special election to take my place. i thank my constituents for the opportunity to serve them. i hope they will not think badly of me for leaving. i thank alan martin, my chief of staff and all of my for all
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half their tireless work on my behalf. and i thank my wife most especially for standing by me. i love her very much. god bless america. [applause]
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>> gentleman from new york is recognized for one minute. without objection, the house will be in order so the gentlemen may be heard. >> tough time to follow, but i must stay the course and be true to myself. the republican right wing in this country doesn't like it when we say coup d'etat. so i'll make it easier for them. golpe de estado. that's spanish for overthrowing a government. from day one, they wanted to get rid of bill clinton. from day one, they stood on him and tried to make him out to be the number one villain in this country. they were blinded by hate than -- then and they are blinded by hate today. this place is full of hate because of what they tried to do to our president. my constituents don't hate bill clinton.
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they love him and are praying for him right at this very moment. you may have the votes today to impeach him but you don't have the american people. and let me tell you something. i grew up in the public housing projects of the south bronx. i can see bullies when i see them. the bullies get theirs, and you will get yours. the people will rise up from california to new york. they will rise up from texas, florida, everywhere in this country, and tell them don't do this to him. don't ask him to quit. bill clinton will never quit. [applause] >> the chair would ask all members to respect the time constraints under which we are operating. the gentleman from michigan is recognized for three minutes. >> thank you, mr. speaker.
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ladies and gentlemen, the record of the house on something as important as impeachment should be as clear and accurate as it can be. and after yesterday's considerable misstatements by members of the majority, i rise to set the record straight. they say these articles show high crimes. the record of historians who wrote the committee say they are low crimes and do not justify the drastic remedy of impeachment. as the article one impeachment is not justified, they say the president committed perjury in the grand jury. but the actual record is that he did not deny an inappropriate relationship with ms. lewinsky during his grand jury appearance. they're complaining only becausf
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specificity. in the president's testimony about who touched who and where and when it happened. they claim there is a clear and convincing evidence of grand jury perjury, but ignored is the panel of experienced prosecutors who testified no reasonable prosecutor in the land would have brought a perjury case arising out of these facts. as to article two, the impeachment is not justified. they say the president's testimony deprived the plaintiff of her day in court. not so. the record shows a federal judge ruled three times that monica lewinsky's allegations were not relevant to the core issue of the jones case and refused to permit the jones lawyers to pursue the allegations. they say the president lied when
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testifying about his understanding of the definition of sexual relations. the record shows that three lawyers and a judge spent half an hour debating the meaning of the contorted phrase with the judge concluding, "i'm not sure mr. clinton understands all of these definitions, anyway." they say the president perjured himself when he testified to the truthfulness of the lewinsky affidavit. the record shows ms. lewinsky stated her denial of sex was not untruthful because she defined sex as intercourse. as to the third article of impeachment, it is not justified, either. they say the president obstructed justice by asking ms. lewinsky to lie in the jones case, engineering the return of
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gifts he had given her, trying to buy her silence with a job, and directing the testimony. the record is ms. lewinsky stated over and over again the president never asked her to lie. she said this in the grand jury and in her written statement. the record shows miss lewinsky and not the president or miss curry initiated the return of the gifts. the record shows the president gave her more gifts after she had been subpoenaed. the record is that the job search began months before ms. lewinsky showed up on the witness list in the jones matter. the record shows the president made no extraordinary effort to get her a job. the record shows ms. curry was
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never a witness. ms. curry testified no fewer than nine times and stated repeatedly she did not feel pressure by the president's remarks. and finally, article four, the president, they say, abused his power by failing to answer the 81 questions. the record shows the president answered the questions completely, but the alleged abuse of lies in the fact that the majority disagrees with the answers. i yield myself 30 seconds more. the majority has simply tried to dress up its perjury allegations in the clothes of the watergate's abuse of power language. and i know something about that. in an effort to make its case against the president seem more serious. they say the president has to be impeached to uphold the rule of, -- of law, but we say the
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president can't be impeached without denigrating the rule of law and devaluing the standards of impeachable offenses. [applause] >> the gentleman may proceed, three minutes. >> thank you, mr. speaker. i don't know if i can make this speech. but i'm going to try. you know. believe it or not, i have been very depressed about this whole proceeding. when i came to work yesterday, it really hit me what we were about to do.
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but after this morning, it made me realize even more what this is all about. and i feel great about it. because no matter how low we think we are, or depressed we are, this country shows us time and time again how great it is. there is no greater american in my mind, at least today, than bob livingston. [applause] >> because he understood what this debate was all about. honor, decency, integrity, and the truth.
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everything we honor in this country. it was also a debate about relativism versus absolute truth. the president's defenders have said the president is morally reprehensible, reckless, he's violated the trust of the american people, lessened their esteem for the office of president, and dishonored the office which they have entrusted him. but that doesn't rise to the level of impeachment. what the defenders want to do is lower the standards by which we hold this president, and the standards for our society by doing so. i cannot in good conscience after watching newt gingrich put the country, his caucus, his house above himself and resign.
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and i cannot stand before you watching bob livingston put his family -- and i hope you will think about his family. his friends, his house, and his country above any ambitions he may have. he thought he could do a good job as speaker. i think he would have. but it's -- for some, it's no longer good enough to make a mistake, confess that mistake, and except -- accept the consequences of that mistake, and change the way you live your life and keep moving and make a contribution to this country. i think you ought to think about
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that, both sides. ladies and gentlemen, we will proceed. we will elect another speaker. this country will be better for it. [gavel] and i can't say this strong enough, this is god's country, and i know he will bless america. [applause] >> let me announce the gentleman from illinois has 14 minutes remaining. the gentleman from michigan has 15 minutes remaining. the gentleman from michigan is recognized. >> mr. speaker, i'm pleased to recognize an outstanding member of judiciary committee, the gentleman from new york, mr. nadler, for one minute. >> gentleman from new york is recognized for one minute. the house will be in order. [gavel]
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the house will be in order. gentleman may proceed. >> mr. speaker, i'm even more depressed today than i thought i would be yesterday. i believe bob livingston's resignation, while offered in good faith, was wrong. [applause] >> it is a surrender to a developing sexual mccarthyism. are we going to have a new test? if someone wants to run for public office, are you now or have you ever been an adulterer? we are losing sight of the distinction between sins, which should be between a person, his family, his god, and crimes, the concern of the state and society as a whole. [applause]
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on one level, we could say you reap what you sowed. but that gives us no joy. it gives me no joy. i wish mr. livingston would reconsider, because i don't think, on the basis of what we know, he should resign. [applause] but i don't think -- >> time of the gentleman has expired. >> i yield the gentleman an additional 30 seconds. recognized. is >> the impeachment of the president is even worse. again we are losing distinction of -- track of the distinction between sins and crimes. we are lowering the standard of impeachment. what the president has done is not a great and dangerous offense to the safety of the republic. in the words of george mason, it is not an impeachable offense
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under the meaning of the constitution. conyers,ard from mr. the allegations are far from proven. the fact is we are not simply transmitting evidence to the senate as evidenced by the fact -- god forbid he should resign. he should fight and beat this. [applause] >> gentleman from illinois. >> mr. speaker, i'm pleased to yield three minutes to the distinguished gentleman from california, mr. cox. >> gentleman from california is recognized for three minutes. house will be in order. >> mr. speaker, we are gathered here to deal with the problem none of us wants. and we agreed upon more than we admit. the censure resolution states that william jefferson clinton
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has violated his oath of office. damaged and dishonored the presidency, engaged in reprehensible conduct with a subordinate, and wrongly obstructed discovery of the truth. this debate therefore is not about whether the president has abused his office, he has. and both democrats and republicans acknowledge it. some have said we shouldn't deal with this question while our troops are in the gulf. it might be added they are in bosnia, kosovo, and nose to nose with north korean soldiers in the dmz. a quarter million american soldiers are positioned at tripwires of global conflict. they will be there long after this debate ends. they are protecting our freedom and democracy. it is for them as much for any american that congress meets today. every one of our soldiers is held to a code of conduct.
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none of them could keep their job, the privilege of being ordered into battle, if they had committed the crimes of our commander-in-chief. for committing just the underlying acts, the so-called personal elements of the commander in chief's offenses, the clinton administration has prosecuted no fewer than 67 american officers and enlisted men and women. hundreds of americans who served their country in the army, navy, air force, and marine corps have lost their careers, even though they did not once lie under oath to a judge or a grand jury, or obstruct justice, or tamper with a single witness. they were dismissed because of a more simple reason, they failed in their duty. every single man and woman in operation desert fox is held to a higher standard than their commander-in-chief. let us raise the standard of our american leader to the level of
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his troops. let us once again respect the institution of the presidency. let us see to it, ineed, what the censure resolution says, no man is above the law. let us not fail in our duty. let us restore honor to our country. [applause] >> from michigan. >> i'm pleased to recognize a senior member of the judiciary committee departing this house, the gentleman from new york, mr. charles schumer, for one minute. [gavel] >> the gentleman will suspend for a minute. the house will be in order. the gentleman is recognized for one minute. >> i thank the gentleman.
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the argument made by the gentleman from texas, the best argument the majority has made thus far, focused on upholding the rule of law, but a hallmark of rule of law is proportionality of punishment. if the president were caught, if any president were caught speeding at 100 miles per hour, he would have to be disciplined so that others would not feel reckless speeding was permissible, but we certainly wouldn't use the political equivalent of capital punishment, impeachment, to discipline that president. on the other hand, if the president accepted a bribe, there would be no doubt he should be impeached and all 435 of us would vote for it. lying under oath about an extramarital relationship requires significant punishment such as censure, but not the political version of capital
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punishment, impeachment. my colleagues, the rule of law requires that the punishment fit the crime. allow us to vote for censure, the appropriate punishment under rule of law. [applause] >> mr. speaker, i'm pleased to yield five minutes to the distinguished gentlemen from florida, mr. mccullen. >> the gentleman from florida is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. speaker. there are three principal questions each of us has to answer today. first, did the president commit the felony crimes of which he has been charged? second, are they impeachable offenses? third, should we impeach him? my task is to explain how i believe these articles of impeachment we have before us today, and walked through the evidence of the primes -- crimes
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the president committed. first, the president was sued in a sexual harassment civil rights lawsuit by paula jones. as a part of her case, she wanted to prove her credibility by bringing forward evidence that the president engaged in a pattern of illicit relations with women in his employment. long before the president and monica lewinsky were called as witnesses in that lawsuit, they reached an understanding that they would lie about their relationship if asked. and one day in december of last year, the president learned monica lewinsky was on the witness list in that case. he called her. he talked to her about it. and during that conversation, they discussed the cover story they previously discussed on other occasions. and the president suggested she could file an affidavit to avoid testifying in that suit. monica lewinsky filed a false affidavit that was perjure us in
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-- perjurious its own right. she testified before the grand jury that the president didn't tell her to lie, but they both understood from their conversations and previous understandings that in fact she would lie. the evidence is clear and convincing i think beyond a reasonable doubt that at that moment, the president committed the first of a series of felony crimes that led us here today. that was a crime of obstructing justice and trying to get monica lewinsky to lie on an affidavit. and encouraging her to lie if she were called as a witness. that is the essence of the first of seven counts of obstruction of justice in article three. i'd like to call my colleagues' attention to the way the column -- article reads. it says the scheme the president engaged in after that included one or more of the following. there were seven of them. i believe the hiding of the gifts, the effort to get a job
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for miss lewinsky, getting ms. curry's secretary to cooperate his later false testimony. and so forth are all proven by the evidence in the pages of sworn testimony we reviewed. but whether you agree with all of them or not, you have to believe there's clear and convincing evidence that one of them is true, and certainly the affidavit is true, to send this article to the senate for trial. >> [indiscernible] -- [gavel] >> gentleman may proceed. >> in january, after this affidavit incident, once it was prepared and filed and the sordid details took place, the president testified under oath in a civil disposition and lied again and again. the principal lie he told
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then concerned the question of whether or not he had sexual relations with monica lewinsky. the definition he was given by the court, however convoluted people think, he testified in the grand jury, he understood. the words given to him, he knew what they meant. the actions the president took on several occasions, according to monica lewinsky, were sexual relations. there are more than six witnesses that monica lewinsky talked with that corroborate what she has to say. she is very believable, unfortunately, and the president is not. it's not a question of messing with a definition. under the definition, the president lied before the jones case and under oath again before the grand jury. not only that, but in his deposition of the jones case, he swore he didn't know vernon jordan had met with monica lewinsky and talked about the case.
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the evidence indicates he lies. he also swore he couldn't recall being alone with monica lewinsky. he lied. the president said he could not recall being in the oval office hallways with miss lewinsky, the evidence indicates he lied. the president couldn't recall the gifts exchanged between them. so on down the road. he lied then, he went to the grand jury and lied under oath. that's article two and three. in article four, he lied again to congress. he told us the same things. he said he didn't engage in the sexual relations. he said he was never alone with her. he repeated the same lies to this congress. that's a grave insult to the constitutional system of government. the president did commit impeachable offenses. perjury rises to the same level as bribery.
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treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors. that's what the constitution says. i submit he should be impeached. the evidence is clear. there's no question he subverted our system of government. he should be impeached. >> mr. speaker, i recognize for one minute the distinguished gentleman from georgia, the minority deputy whip, mr. john lewis. >> gentleman is recognized for one minute. >> mr. speaker, today is a very sad day for this house. this morning when i got up, i wanted to cry, but the tears would not come. before we cast this one floor vote, we all should ask the question, is this good for america?
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is it good for the american people? is it good for this institution? when i was growing up in rural alabama in the 1940's and 1950's, as a young child, near a house where my aunt lived, an unbelievable storm occurred. the wind started blowing, the rain fell on the tin top roof of the house. lightning started flashing, the thunder started rolling. my aunt asked us to come in and hold hands, and we did. [gavel] >> i apologize. i have no more time. >> as the wind continued to
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blow, another tried to lift. we never left the house. the wind may blow, the thunder may roll -- we must stay together as a family, the american house, the american family. [applause] [gavel] >> gentleman from illinois. >> without objection, the house will be in order. >> how much time have i? has 5.5entleman minutes.
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gentleman, suspend. gentleman may proceed. >> my friends, those of us who are sinners must feel especially wretched today losing bob livingston under such sad circumstances. one's self-esteem gets crushed at times like this. i think of a character in one of tolstoy's novels who feels so crushed he asked god if he can be useful in wiping something up or filling a hole or being a bad example. but something is going on repeatedly that has to be stopped and that is a confusion between private acts of infidelity and public acts, where as a government official you raise your right hand and ask god to witness the truth you are saying. that's a public act. adultery is not a public act,
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it's a private act. and the government, the congress, has no business intruding into private acts. [applause] but it is our business, it is our duty to observe, to characterize public acts by public officials. i hope that confusion doesn't persist. now, the rule of law, a phrase we've heard along with fairness and reprehensible, is in real danger today if we cheapen the oath, because justice depends on the enforceability of the oath.
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i don't care what the subject matter is, if it's important enough to say i raise my right hand and swear testimony i'm about to give is the truth, if it is solemn enough for that, it is solemn enough to enforce. and when you have a serial violator of the oath who is the chief law enforcement officer of the country, who appoints the judges and supreme court, the attorney general, we have a problem. now, you recognize that problem because you want to censure him. that is impeachment light. you want to censure him with no real consequence. except as history chooses to impose them. but we suggest censuring the president is not a function permitted in this chamber. maybe across the rotunda, where the sanctions of an impeached person are imposed, that's
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another situation. i daresay they are innovative and creative over there on mountain olympus, but here, we are confined by the strictures of the constitution, which affords us one avenue, impeachment. impeachment. there is a doctrine of separation of powers. we cannot punish the president. and yet a censure resolution to be meaningful has to at least harm his reputation. we have no power to do that if we believe in the constitution. the constitution did not enumerate for us a power for punishing the president. i speak not for the gentleman across the hall. no fact witnesses. i've heard that again and again. we had 60,000 pages of testimony from the grand jury, from depositions, statement under oath, that is testimony you can believe and accept.
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and we chose to believe it. and accept it. why reinterview betty curry to take another statement when we already had her statement? why interview monica lewinsky when we had her statement under oath? with a grant of immunity that if lied, she would forfeit. if you didn't trust those people, if you didn't accept their credibility, you had the opportunity to call and cross-examine them to your hearts' content. but you really didn't want to bring them in to cross-examine them, but you want to blame us for having no fact witnesses. i think that is a little short of the mark. lame duck? the cry was get this over with, get this behind us. we have an election, you pick up a few seats, and lame-duck becomes the cry. please, be fair, be consistent. now, equal protection of the law.
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that's what worries me about this whole thing. any of you who have been victimized by injustice and you haven't lived until you have been, sued by somebody and pushed to the wall, and turned to the government and the government is on the wrong side, justice is so important to the most humble among us.
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