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tv   President Bill Clinton Impeachment - House Floor Debate  CSPAN  December 21, 2019 12:00pm-1:31pm EST

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>> in the second of a three-part program, we looked back to the 1998-99 impeachment of president bill clinton with alexis simendinger. she covered the impeachment for national journal, and is now national political correspondent for the hill newspaper. we then showed a portion of the u.s. house floor debate from december 19 on four articles of impeachment. the house voted to approve two of those articles making bill clinton only the second president in u.s. history to be impeached since andrew johnson in 1868. >> on december 18 and 19th, 1998, the house of representatives taking up articles of impeachment against present bill clinton. we will show you highlights coming up in a moment. first i would like to explain how the articles move from the house to the floor within a week. >> they pass out of the house judiciary committee. there was lots of discussion about what the rules would be. obviously for this entire inquiry. the rules meaning, what the investigation be limited? and
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the house judiciary committee had already undertaken that and had established that the inquiry could really run very widely. it was not going to be limited to just a certain number of witnesses or certain number of days or even just to the monocle -- to the monica lewinsky question. democrats fought to keep that from happening. but the rules were established. and the committee you know, because our memory is that in 21-16 party line vote, the republicans were in control of the committee and they were the ones guiding it and moved pretty swiftly. and the house floor was ready to take it up under the republican leadership of the house at the time. us, we remember so much drama. we literally went through three speakers within a
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couple of days. first the resignation of speaker newt gingrich. bob livingston became the next in line. then what happened? >> there was a scramble to figure out. one of bob livingston's allies try to talk him out of it. it was interesting because he had made the decision to resign with some agony. >> and he resigned because? >> he resigned because there was a full on press and the democratic world and larry flynt was asking for anyone to come forward with information about any other republicans who were involved in impeachment who had had extramarital relations for -- before themselves. and it became reported and he understood that larry flynt was going to publish this, that he had had indiscretions in his own marital life. >> to my colleagues, my friends and most especially to my wife and family, i have hurt you all
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deeply and i beg your forgiveness. i was prepared to lead our narrow majority as speaker and i believe i had it in me to do a fine job. but i cannot do that job. >> he was not the only one. there were other house members. there was one 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
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had off what he thought was going to be a disaster. and when president clinton and his defenders knew that there were a variety of house nevers at that time who had a reputation -- house members at the time who had a reputation for stepping out on their family relationships, that were not expected. in this case, denny houston became the speaker after he withdrew unexpectedly. he took some time to think about it. he said no initially. then he was talked into doing it. he prayed about it and said he would do it. he was the unexpected and reluctant speaker. we understood heading into the holidays that there was this terrain of everyone celebrating the end of the year and holidays. i remember at the white house, there was an annual christmas press party in which the press corps was invited. it was an odd event, because the president did not show up. that would have been very strange. the first lady did it by herself. she looked very unhappy in the line meeting with the press. her feeling was she was angry at her husband, it also
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was the news media as well. denny had been a very quiet coach earlier in his life. he left office and became a parent -- it later became apparent through a legal case that he had been paying black male money to -- blackmail money money to what had been a young man, student, or someone he had coached and had improper sexual relations with the men and had been paying big money for a long time, lying about it, and he ended up being prosecuted and convicted for the money that he had paid. >> let's go back to december of
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1998. that democrats were putting forth a strategy. explain that. >> there were a lot of efforts to think of a way to punish the president that would stop short of impeachment? there were a couple of efforts. one was trying to encourage the house republicans into the resolution of censure. there was a rejection out of hand, because republicans argued it is meaningless in the large scheme of things. the offenses were so grave, that he deserved to be removed from office. least, this impeachment, which had only happened once before richard nixon had resigned before the house impeached him or could
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impeach him. they felt it would be a lasting legacy no matter what happened in the senate. that didn't go very far. it came back in the senate, which was interesting. there was also discussion about whether it was worth it to argue the articles of impeachment being dismissed. that came up in the senate. if it would be worth filing a motion to have it all dismissed. let's get out of this. there were a lot of efforts to talk about ways to punish the president without actually impeaching him. the republicans were determined to move ahead and made it clear that they wanted to. >> which is my follow-up question, why? what was motivating them. what was the gop strategy? >> in the world they lived in, the president's behavior was so offensive, and a lot of these lawmakers were in districts where bill clinton was not necessarily popular as he was
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nationwide or polls suggested. senator lindsey graham has talked about this, looking back on it, the few of the house republican managers was not in sync of where the public was about the president's personal behavior, or his personal failings, because they were willing to see this as personal misbehavior of a sexual sort that was really part of his family relationship. it was a responsibility of him to his family, not necessarily the american people. instead, house republicans felt it was a violation of his oath of office and he had done damage to the nation. he deserved to be punished. >> what do you remember if anything of the floor debate in the house? >> it was very vigorous, but it also showcased the stark
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differences that were argued. for instance, the democrats were able to put up a defense with the democratic talking points, which is what the republicans, it was a coup, an effort to get back at bill clinton, his reelection. republicans were offering a passionate and determined argument that he had violated the morality of the nation, his constitutional oath of office, and there was a lot of passion. >> here is a portion of that debate from the house of representatives. this network within in its 19th year, from december of 1998 the floor debate over the impeachment of president clinton. >> a resolution to impeach the president of the united states
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for high crimes and misdemeanors . >> pursuant to the order of the house of friday, december 18, forresolution is debatable one hour equally divided between the gentleman of illinois and the gentleman from michigan. >> mr. speaker i am pleased to recognize the gentle lady from california for one minute. >> she is recognized for one minute. you.ank i rise to strongly oppose these articles of impeachment and this flawed and undemocratic process. this is the real crime against the american people and our democracy. this march is an attempt to undo and overthrow a duly elected president and ignores the will of the people. denying a vote on censure creates the appearance of one-party autocracy, which we condemn abroad, and history has proven it can lead to authoritarian rule. this republican party coup
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underscores their only goal is to turn back the clock on an agenda that puts people first. an agenda that will want to cancel policies that value and support basic human rights, such as a woman's right to choose. a good public education instead of vouchers that insists on a living wage for working men and women that protects our environment, supports the bill of rights, and social security is preserved. the republican process is cynical and dangerous. it will be recorded they stood on the wrong side of history. we must restore public trust and establish a congress that communicates respect for the people of the u.s., the constitution and democracy. >> the gentleman from illinois. >> i yield one minute to the gentleman from south carolina, mr. lindsey graham. >> gentleman from south carolina is recognized for one minute.
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>> thank you. ladies and gentlemen of the house, there's a long and difficult process -- >> the house will be in order. >> ladies and gentlemen, this long and difficult process for all of us is almost to conclusion. 25 years ago, a democratic controlled judiciary committee with a minority of republicans, reported articles of impeachment against richard nixon. why? nixon cheated. he cheated the electoral system by concealing efforts of a political break in. 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
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he committed crimes resulting in a our legal system. we believe he lied under oath numerous times, that he conspired to present false testimony to a court of law. we believe he has sullied our legal system in every way. any president who cheats our institutions shall be impeached. >> i'm pleased to recognize now the gentleman from wisconsin. >> he is 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 need clear 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
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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 believe the president should be held accountable for his actions. his actions should be condemned and he should be fined. a central resolution that is being denied the opportunity to debate and vote on today. our founding fathers designed impeachment specifically to protect the nation from great harm. the chief executive will clearly endanger our constitutional democracy. i do not believe his 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. show >> i'm pleased to yield two minutes to the distinguished gentleman from louisiana, mr.
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livingston. >> gentleman from louisiana is recognized for two minutes. >> rise with the, i fondest hopes that the bitterness in this debate will be put aside and that all members will return to their families for the holidays mindful of what has been done by us. we have fulfilled our duty to our magnificent constitution. yes our young men and women in the uniformed armed services have in the 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. they have performed their tasks with valor and fortitude, and we freely engage in this most unpleasant
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aspect of self-government. as was envisioned by our forefathers. i very much regret the hostility that has been bred in the halls of congress for the last months and years. i want so very much to pacify and pool our urging tempers and return to an era where differences were confined to the debate and not of personal attack or assassination of character. i'm proud to serve in this institution. each of us stands here because a majority of roughly 600,000 people had the u.s. 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
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common with one another. when never discover what the common ground may be between the sides of this narrow aisle. the debate has done nothing to bring us together. i greatly regret it has become quite literally the opening gambit of the openly intended livingston speakership. i most certainly would have written a different scenario had i had the chance. but we are all on the chessboard and we are playing parts in the drama that is neither fiction nor unimportant. indeed it is of utmost significance in american history. my desire to create an environment for healing must take lesser precedents, 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 on these
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goals, and i give great credit to chairman hyde and mr. conyers. mr. tom rooney, all of the members of staff, the theirty and minority for deliberate and conscientious effort on this most difficult task. we are nearing completion. however the vote turns out, no one may say that we owned up to our constitutional responsibility as members of congress in a careful, respectful, and insightful debate. much credit is due to our presiding officer, who has done an outstanding job. [applause] we differ on process. the minority believes we acted hastily and omitted an
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alternative from the options available for consideration. we in the majority believe we have properly begun the debate after setting aside a day to honor and praise our troops for the effort they're extending on our behalf. the commander of the troop in iraq several years ago agreed with us on msnbc. we believe the constitution envisioned that censure not be a part of the debate on whether or not to impeach the president. we are supported by comments by then majority leader tip o'neill during that next month -- the nixon impeachment proceedings. there are differences and processes. what about substance? the minority has maintained the president has not perjured himself, and even if he did, such perjury was not in high
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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 statutory -- statutes. perjury is a felony punishable by up to five years. the president may be held accountable matter the circumstances. perjury is a felony, and 116 people are serving time in federal prison as we speak for perjury. there have been several instances of people going to prison following 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 of the judiciary committee two weeks ago said "i
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too was called upon to give answers under oath during a civil proceeding. truthful answers to those questions would be embarrassing to me. what i knew exposed me to 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. i did just that. i could not lie, when i was sworn to tell the truth, no matter the risk or degree of temptation to take the easy way out. parts of my life have been difficult since, because elements of that testimony have been used to scorn me. i as a common citizen was compelled by my conscious to tell the truth. yes our nation is founded on law, and not the whim of men. there is no divine right of residence. a president is an
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ordinary citizen vested with the power to govern and sworn to preserve, protect, and defend the u.s. constitution. inherent in that oath is a responsibility to live within its laws with no higher or lower expectations than the average citizen. 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, whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you god. this according to witnesses to the judiciary committee before the special counsel it did not do. for this, i will vote to impeach the president of the u.s. i ask these cases be considered by the u.s. senate and the other body of this great congress uphold their responsibility to render
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justice on these most serious charges. to the president, you have done great damage to this nation over this past year. while your defenders are contending that further impeachment proceedings would only protract and exacerbate the damage to this country, i'd say you have the power to terminate that damage and heal the wounds you have created. you may resign your post. >> no, no, no, no, no. >> house will be in order. >> and --
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>> 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 my wife and family, i have hurt you all deeply. i beg your forgiveness. i was prepared to lead our narrow majority as speaker, and i believe i had it in me to do a fine job. i cannot do that job or be the kind of leader i would like to be under current circumstances. 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 i shall remain as a backbencher in this congress that i dearly love for approximately six months into the 106th congress
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whereupon i shall vacate and ask my governor to call a special election to take my place. thank my constituents for the opportunity to serve them. i hope they will not think badly of me for leaving. i thank my staff for all of their tireless work on my behalf. hank my wife most especially for standing by me. i love her very much. god bless america. [applause]
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very much. [applause] show less >> gentleman from new york is recognized for one minute. without objection, the house will be in order so that 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. i will make it easier. golpe de estado. that's spanish for overthrowing a government. from day one, they wanted to get rid of bill clinton. they stayed on him and made him out to be the number one villain in this
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country. they have been blinded by hate then, and has been today. this place is full of hate because of what they tried to do to our president. my constituents don't hate bill clinton, they love him and are praying for him at this very moment. you may have the votes today to impeach, but you don't have the american people. 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 you not to do this to him. don't ask him to quit. bill clinton will never quit. [applause]
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>> the chair would ask all members to respect the time constraints for which we are operating. the gentleman from michigan is recognized for three minutes. >> ladies and gentlemen, the record of the house on something as important as impeachment should be as clear and accurate as it can be. 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 don't justify the drastic remedy of impeachment. as the article one impeachment is not justified, they say the president committed perjury in
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the grand jury. the actual record is he did not deny an inappropriate relationship with ms. lewinsky during his grand jury appearance. they are complaining only because of a lack of specificity. and the testimony of about who touch to 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 experience prosecutors who testified no reasonable prosecutor in the land would have brought a perjury case arising out of these facts. as through article two, the as to article two, the impeachment is not justified. they say the president's testimony deprived the plaintiff paula jones of her day in court.
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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 prevent the lawyers to pursue the allegations. they say the president lied when 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 that 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 you testify through the truthfulness of the lewinsky affidavit.
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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, two, engineering the return of gifts he had given her, three, trying to buy her silence with a job, and four, directing the testimony. i yield myself -- >> the gentleman is recognized. >> the record is miss 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 that miss lewinsky and not the president initiated the return of the gifts. the record shows that the president gave her more gifts after she had been subpoenaed. the record is that the job
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search began months before miss 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 never a witness on any list. ms. curry testified no fewer than nine times and stated repeatedly she did not feel pressure by the president's remarks. the president abused his power, they say, by failing to answer the 81 questions. the record shows the president answered the 81 questions completely, but the alledged abuse of power lies in the fact that the majority disagrees with the answers. i yield myself 30 seconds more. >> recognized. >> the majority has simply tried to dress up its perjury allegations in the clothes of
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the watergate's abuse of power language. 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 law, but we say the president can't be impeached without denigrating the rule of law and devaluating 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.
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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. but after this morning, it made me realize even more what this is all about. 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]
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because he understood what this debate was all about. it was about honor, decency, integrity, and the truth. 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, that he is reckless, that he's violated the trust of the american people, lessened their esteem for the office of president, and dishonored the office in 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.
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i cannot in good conscience after watching newt gingrich put the country, his caucus, his house above himself and resign. 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. for some, it's no longer good enough to make a mistake, confess that mistake, and accept the consequences of that mistake
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and change the way you lived your life and keep moving and make a contribution to this country. i think you should think about that, both sides. we will proceed. we will elect another speaker. this country will be better for it. 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
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recognize an outstanding member of judiciary committee, the gentleman from new york, mr. nadler, for one minute. >> the gentleman from new york is recognized for one minute. the house will be in order. >> mr. speaker? >> the gentleman will suspend. the house will be in order. the gentleman may proceed. >> 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. it is a surrender -- [applause] it is a surrender to a developing sexual mccarthyism. are we going to have a new test? someone wants to run for public office, are you now or have you
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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] rep. nadler: on one level, we could say you reap what you sowed. that gives us no joy. it gives me no joy, and i wish mr. livingston would reconsider, because i don't think on the basis of what we know, he should resign. but i don't think -- [applause] >> the time of the gentleman has expired. >> i yield the gentleman and additional 30 seconds. >> the gentleman is recognized. rep. nadler: thank you. the impeachment of the president is even worse.
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we are losing 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 under the meaning of the constitution and as you heard from mr. conyers, the allegations are far from proven. the fact is we are not simply transmitting a case with some evidence to the senate as evidenced by the fact that we have already heard the leader say he should resign. god forbid he should resign. he should fight and beat this. [applause] >> the gentleman from illinois. >> mr. speaker, i'm pleased to yield three minutes to the distinguished gentleman from california, mr. cox. >> the gentleman from california is recognized for three minutes. the house will be in order.
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>> mr. speaker, we are gathered here to deal with the problem none of us wants. we are agreed upon much more than we admit. the censure resolution, not the articles of impeachment, but the censure resolution states william jefferson clinton has violated his oath of office, damaged and dishonored the presidency, engaged in reprehensible conduct with a subordinate, and 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 now while our troops are in the gulf. it might be added that they are also in bosnia, in kosovo, and nose to nose with north korean soldiers in the dmz. a quarter million american soldiers are positioned at tripwires of global conflict.
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they will be there long after this debate ends. they are protecting our freedom and our 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. none of them could keep his or her 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
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more simple reason. they failed in their duty. every single man and woman in operation desert fox at this very moment is held to a higher standard than their commander-in-chief. let us raise the standard of our american leader to the level of his troops. let us once again respect the institution of the presidency. let us see to it indeed what the censure resolution says merely in words, that no man is above the law. let us not fail in our duty. let us restore honor to our country. [applause] >> the gentleman 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. >> the gentleman will suspend
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for a minute. the house will be in order. the house will be in order. the gentleman is recognized for one minute. rep. schumer: i thank the gentleman. 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 others would not feel that 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
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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 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] >> i'm pleased to yield five minutes to the distinguished member of the judiciary committee, mr. mccullen. >> the gentleman from florida is recognized for five minutes. rep. mccullen: there are three principal questions each of us has to answer today. did the president commit the
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felony crimes of which he has been charged? secondly, are they impeachable offenses? and third, should we impeach him? my task is to explain how i believe these articles of impeachment we have before us today and to walk through the evidence of the crimes i believe the president committed. first of all, the president was sued in a sexual harassment civil rights lawsuit by paula jones. as 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. one day in december of last year, the president learned that monica lewinsky was on the witness list in that case. he called her. he talked to her about it. during that conversation, they discussed the cover story they had previously discussed on
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other occasions. the president suggested to her that she could file an affidavit to avoid testifying in that suit. monica lewinsky subsequently, as we know, filed a false affidavit that was perjurous in its own right. she testified before the grand jury that the president didn't tell her to lie in that aphis -- affidavit, 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. encouraging her to lie as she was 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 fact of the way the column reads.
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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 for miss lewinsky, the effort to get miss curry, his secretary to corroberate his later false testimony. all proven by the evidence in the 60,000 pages of sworn testimony we reviewed. whether you agree with all of them are not come all you have to do is 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. >> the gentleman may proceed. rep. mccullen: now in january,
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after this affidavit incident, once it was prepared and it was filed and all the sordid details that we are aware of took place, the president testified under oath in a civil disposition and lied again and again. the principal lie he told then and before the grand jury 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 did understand. 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. according to that definition. there are more than six witnesses that monica lewinsky talked with contemporaneously to engaging in those activities that corroborate what she has to say. she is very believable, unfortunately, and the president is not.
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it's not a question of having to fudge around with a definition. under his definition, the president lied before the paula 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. the evidence indicates that he lied. it also indicates he also swore he couldn't recall being alone with monica lewinsky. the president said he could not recall being in the oval office hallways with miss lewinsky, the -- except maybe when she was delivering pizza. the evidence indicates he lied. the president couldn't recall the gifts exchanged between monica lewinsky and himself, he lied and so on down the road. he lied then, he went to the grand jury and lied under oath. that's articles 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 with miss
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lewinsky. 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. treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors. that's what the constitution says. i would submit he should be impeached. the evidence is clear. there's no question he subverted our system of government. he should be impeached. unfortunately. thank you. >> mr. speaker, i recognize for one minute the distinguished gentleman from georgia, the minority deputy whip, mr. john lewis. >> the gentleman is recognized for one minute. rep. lewis: mr. speaker, today is a very sad day for this house. this morning when i got up, i
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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? is this good for this institution? when i was growing up in rural alabama in the 40's and 50's, as a young child, near a house where my aunt lives, an unbelievable storm occurred. the wind started blowing, the rain fell on the tin top roof of this house. lightning started flashing, the thunder started rolling.
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my aunt asked us to come in and hold hands, and we did. as the wind continued to blow, another tried to lift. we never left the house. the thunder may roll, the lightning may strike, but we must never leave the american house. we must stay together as a family, one house, one family, one american family. [applause] >> gentlemen from illinois.
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without objection, the house will be in order. gentleman has five and a half minutes. gentleman, just suspend until we have order. 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 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. something is going on repeatedly that has to be stopped. and that is a confusion between
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private acts of infidelity and public acts, whereas you raise your right hand and ask god to witness to the truth of what you are saying. that's a public act. infidelity, adultery, is not a public act, it's a private act. the government, the congress, has no business intruding into private acts. [applause] rep. hyde: but it is our business, our duty to observe, to characterize public acts by public officials. i hope that confusion doesn't persist. the rule of law, a phrase we heard with fairness and
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reprehensible more often than not, is in real danger today if we cheapen the oath, because justice depends on the enforceability of the oath. i don't care about 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. 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. you recognize that problem because you want to censor him. that is impeachment lite. you want to censure him with no real consequences.
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we suggest to you that censoring 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 another situation. i daresay they are innovative and creative over there on mount olympus, but here, we are confined by the scriptures of the constitution, which affords us one avenue, and that is 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 a power for punishing the president.
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i speak not for the gentlemen across the hall. no fact witnesses. i've heard that repeated 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. 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 and and with a grant of immunity that if she lied, she forfeits? if you didn't trust those people, if you didn't accept their credibility, you have the opportunity to call and cross-examine them to your hearts content. but no, 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?
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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. equal protection of the law. that's what worries me about this whole thing. any of you who have been victimized by injustice and 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. equal justice under the law. that is what we are fighting for. when the chief law enforcement officer trivializes ignores shreds, minimizes the sanctity of the oath, and it is wounded, and you are wounded, and your children are wounded.
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follow your conscience and you will serve the country. thank you. [applause] [applause] >> all time for debate has expired. pursuant to the order of the house on friday, december 18, 1998, the previous question was ordered on the resolution. for what purpose does the gentleman of virginia rise? >> i have a motion to read at the desk. >> the gentleman qualifies. the clerk will report. >> mr. voucher moves to recommit the resolution to the committee on the judiciary committee with
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instructions to report the same back to the house with the following amendment. strike all after the resolving clause and insert the following. that it is the sense of the house that on january 20, 1993, william jefferson clinton took the oath prescribed by the constitution of the united states faithfully to execute the office of the president. implicit in that oath is the obligation that the president set an example of high moral standards and conduct himself in a manner that falls for respect -- that fosters respect for the truth. william jefferson clinton has egregiously failed in this. through his actions, he violated the trust of the american people, lessened their esteem for the office of president, and dishonored the office for which they have entrusted to him.
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two a, william jefferson clinton made false statements concerning his reprehensible conduct with a subordinate. b, william jefferson clinton wrongly took steps to delay the discovery of the truth. c, inasmuch as no person is above the law, william jefferson clinton remains subject to criminal and civil penalties. and three, william jefferson clinton, president of the united states, by his conduct, has brought upon himself and fully deserves the censure and condemnation of the american people and this house. >> i would at this time reserve a point of order. >> the gentleman from new york reserves the point of order. pursuant to the house on friday, december 18, 1998. the gentleman from virginia and
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the member oppose, each will control five minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from virginia for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. speaker. i yield myself such time as i may consume. this debate comes very late and at a procedurally awkward manner. the resolution of censure i'm pleased to offer today was made in order for consideration of the house judiciary committee by the gentleman from illinois, he understood the importance of an evenhanded process. he understood the need for balance. he perceived fairness required the availability of members of the outcome of this investigation, which is the clear preference of the american people. the passage of a resolution of censure that admonishes the president for his conduct. i commend mr. hyde for that evenhandedness. i can only wish his example has been followed by the majority leadership in the house.
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with the leadership's concurrence, the rules committee could have been convened. a procedural resolution allowing floor consideration of both the articles of impeachment and a resolution of censure could have been reported and this censure resolution could have and should have been made an order from the start. but that did not occur. the member's of the house did not have a censure alternative available to them from the beginning. and the point of order has been reserved to this resolution offered at the present time. i very much regret this procedure. i think it is a monument to unfairness. not only is a censure and rebuke of the president the public's clear choice but it is the right thing to do. the constitutional history clearly instructs us that the presidential impeachment power is to be used only as a last resort, at times of true national emergency.
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its purpose is to remove from office a president whose conduct threatens the very foundations of our systems of government. it is a drastic remedy for the removal of a tyrant. it should not used to remove the president whose offense is a shameful affair and its effort to conceal it. for that offense, he can be tried in a court of law. for that offense, he can and should be censured by this house. and that would be a perfect expression of the public's entirely justified outrage. but to use the impeachment power for that conduct defines it down, cheapens its use, lowers the standard of impeachment for all time, and will inherently weaken the presidential office. censure is the right approach. i urge approval of this resolution. and mr. speaker, i am now pleased to yield to the balance of our time, to the democratic leader, the gentleman from missouri, mr. gephardt. >> the gentleman from missouri is recognized.
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without objection. rep. gephardt: mr. speaker and embers of the house, i stood on this floor yesterday and implored all of us to say that the politics of slash and burn must end. i implored all of you that we must turn away from the politics of personal destruction and return to the politics of values. it is with that same passion i say to all of you today that the gentleman from louisiana, bob livingston, is a worthy and good and honorable man. [applause]
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rep. gephardt: i believe his decision to retire is a terrible capitulation to the negative forces that are consuming our political system and our country.
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[applause] rep. gephardt: and i pray with all my heart that he will reconsider this decision. [applause] rep. gephardt: our founding fathers created a system of government of men, not of angels. no one standing in this house today can pass a puritanical
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test of purity that some are demanding our elected leaders take. [applause] rep. gephardt: if we demand mere mortals live up to the standard, we will see our seats of government lay empty. and we will see the best, most able people unfairly cast out of public service. we need to stop destroying imperfect people at the altar of an unobtainable morality. [applause] rep. gephardt: we need to start living up to the standards which the public, in its infinite wisdom, understands that imperfect people must strive towards, but too often fall short. we are now rapidly descending into a politics where life imitates farce, fratricide
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dominates our public debate, and america is held hostage to tactics of smear and fear. let all of us here today say no to resignation, no to impeachment, no to hatred, no to intolerance of each other and no to vicious self-righteousness. [applause] [cheers and applause]
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rep. gephardt: we need to start healing. we need to start binding up our wounds. we need to end this downward spiral which will culminate in the death of representative democracy. i believe this healing can start today by changing the course we have begun. this is exactly why we need this today to be bipartisan. this is why we ask the opportunity to vote on a bipartisan censure resolution, to begin the process of healing our nation and healing our people. we are on the brink of the abyss. the only way we stop this insanity is through the force of our own will. [applause]
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rep. gephardt: the only way we stop this spiral is for all of us to finally say, enough. let us step back from the abyss and let's begin a new politics of respect and fairness and decency, which rises what has come before. may god have mercy on this congress, and make congress have the wisdom and the courage, and the goodness to save itself today. [applause]
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[applause] [cheers and applause]
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[cheers and applause]
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>> while the pending resolution addresses impeach meant as a question of the privileges of the rule of jermaine this -- germaneness requires that any amendment confined itself to impeachment, whether addressing it in a positive or negative way, although it may be possible by germane amendment to convert a reported resolution of impeachment to resolve, that impeachment is not warranted, and alternative sanction having no equivalent constitutional footing may not be broached as a question of privilege and correspondingly is not germane. the chair acknowledges that the language of house resolution 611 articulates its proposition for impeachment in language that in itself tends to convey opprobrium.
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the chair must remain cognizant however that the resolution does non-entirely in the framework of the articles impeachment, , anyr, that in vain separate center the resolution only affects the constitutional prayer for judgment by the senate. the chair is not passing on the ultimate constitutionality of a resolution for censure in indeed the chair does not judge the constitutionality of the measure before the house paired rather the chair holds today only that the instance proposal to censure or otherwise admonish the president of the united states, as it does not constitute a question of the privileges of the house, is not germane to the pending resolution of impeachment and intrinsically separate question of the privileges of the house. >> mr. speaker. >> the gentleman from missouri, the majority leader is
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recognized. >> mr. speaker with all due respect i must appeal the ruling of the chair. >> mr. speaker? >> the question is, shall the decision of the chair stand as the judgment of the house? >> mr. speaker? >> majority leader. >> i move to lay the appeal on the table. >> the question is on the motion to table. all those in favor will say i, those opposed no. in the opinion of the chair the ayes have it. >> mr. speaker, i demand a roll call vote. >> we will have a 17 minute vote followed by 15 minute votes thereafter. one 17 minute vote followed by 15 minute votes thereafter. this will be a vote by electronic device.
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>> you have been watching part of c-span's coverage from the house of representatives december of 1998 and the impeachment of president bill clinton. two votes, two key votes. what were the totals? >> i will read for my notes. the first article on perjury, the vote was 228-206. the second article embraced by the house was obstruction of justice, 221 to 212. >> could you set the tone? we are week before christmas, that has just voted to impeach the sitting president for the second time in our history that the house proceeded with a vote like that, what was it like? >> in some ways we look back on it and it seemed like we were not sure which way was going to go. but why the time we got to that stage, remember, this all started in october. so now we are in december.
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and it seemed almost like a fait accompli. by that time most people had absorbed the idea that the president was actually going to be impeached. the white house had absorbed that idea. every possible avenue to get out of it had failed. so they had embraced, democrats had embraced the idea that this was going to go to the senate. what i remember was a kind of, at least in the white house a somber sort of sorrow about it but also resignation, because the president's team and his surrogates had moved ahead to try to plan for what was going to happen next, which was the trial. >> and of course at the center of all of this the relationship between president clinton and monica lewinsky. where was she at the time? >> she had become quite a celebrity and by the time we see the trial she had become so practiced at answering
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questions, giving depositions in answering testimony she could run circles around her questioners. >> why didn't you want to testify? why would you want to avoid testifying? >> first of all i thought was nobody's business. second of all, i did not want have anything to do with paula jones or her case. >> she had gone to california at one point. she was working on a book with a ghost writer. she needed to earn enough money to pay her legal bills because her legal bills were really stacking up. she had changed legal defense. she had a really good legal team. she was out there. people saw her. >> we are going to see for the first time a trial in the senate.
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explain how this all came together. who were the key players? you mentioned the chief justice. what happened after the house vote? >> after the house vote and the articles went to the senate, there was preparation for what turned out to be a 36 day trial. the democrats and president and his team were thinking about how are they going to proceed? because remember, impeachment is described in the constitution and there are some rules that relate to impeachment in the senate of judges, things that have evolved as senate rules. but a lot of this was going to be kind of pulled together by osmosis and meetings and a discussion. it was not necessarily written down. so president clinton and his team had a very strong legal bench and understood how they
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were going to divide up the president's defense. they also felt that after watching what had happened in the house, with the house defense, that they were going to need someone who could really speak to the senators themselves. so there was an effort behind the scenes to recruit a senator, a former senator who would be willing to join the president clinton defense team to represent his perspective to the senators. they called around, they actually tried to encourage john glenn to do it, george mitchell, they both said no for a variety of reasons. they turned to bill, who had just stepped away from the senate after a long career. he had been the governor of arkansas. he was senator for a long time in arkansas and he knew it very -- he knew bill clinton very well. they had actually been arrivals
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in the state of arkansas. he got talked into it. he thought about it and said yes. the real dale bumpers -- the reason dale bumpers was an important figure is because he spoke out as a senator to other senators. he looked like a senator. he had a wonderful way of dressing. his appearance and this real ly great voice. >> the president and i have been together hundreds of times. at parades, dedications, political events, social events. and in all of those years, and all those hundreds of times we have been together, both in public and in private, i have never one time seen the president conduct himself in a way that did not reflect the highest credit on him, his family, his state, and his beloved nation.
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>> he actually represented bill clinton's perspective to the senators, the jurors by basically saying look, what he did was wrong. here's my description of what he did was wrong. you can choose your adjective. he had a really nice way of presenting. i'm with you, but this is not worth removing a president from office. >> it's not a high crime and misdemeanor. >> it's not a high crime and misdemeanor and this process is damaging to the country. let's move on. he spoke as a peer-to-peer. that turned out to be effective. he really enjoyed the role. he was reluctant to do it first, but he was effective. the republicans, the presentation of the case was from the house managers. there were 13 of them. they tried to divide up their case, but they had a lot of
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internal things in brought different ways. it was a very archaic process because the questions that were put to the jury were written down and given to the chief justice to read. he would read the questions and then there would be a response from each side. it was kind of archaic. it is not like a court of law. it is not like a legal process. there was lots of effort on the part of the house republicans of who it ask which questions. the senate republicans who were going to be tasked to figure out how they want to vote. the moderates were agonizing over the variety of choices that they had with the two articles of impeachment in front of them. over a month it was a roller coaster. >> the senators had to do something they are not used to. they sit and don't speak. >> as i said, the questions, whatever they were interested in asking, and a lot of this was preprepared, had to be written
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down and the managers had to agree to give it to the chief justice. the chief justice tried to stay out of it as much as possible. he came out pretty unscathed. chief justice rehnquist wrote a book about this. he knew a lot about the history of impeachment. part of it was really interesting because it's very, very rare for the senate to sit -- all members to sit there. the constitution says that in order to impeach a president there has to be two thirds of those present. it is incumbent on you to be present. they all had to sit there and listen to it all. and it was interesting for those
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of us who remember watching the final vote and the failure to convict. because there were not 67 votes on these two articles of impeachment, not even close. right afterward, right afterwards, they spent a month together. they stood up, they are talking, they are laughing. it was like the air, the tension had gone out of the room. and they all had spent so much time sitting with each other that they actually seemed more friendly at the end of it than they had at the beginning. >> alexis covering all of this for national journal. thank you for joining us on c-span3's american history tv. >> thank you so much. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019] >> during this holiday we come american history tv is on every day. on tuesday history through cartoons with the work of pat , andant -- pat olyphant the apollo 11 moon anniversary with astronaut michael collins. on thursday, environmental
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history with a look at the 1969 cuyahoga river fire, and on friday the first africans in virginia for hundredth anniversary. watch american history tv all next week and every weekend on c-span three. tonight, news em docent brad stone looks at tristian -- christmas traditions in america. here's a preview. in many ways they are sending different messages to different audiences using christmas and santa claus. he will augment this by hosting a lot of receptions in the white house during christmas, he will make it a point for he and his cabinet to visit the troops at christmas in hospitals and at camps. he considers christmas to be so important in the work and
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promoting christmas to be so important that he will say that santa was the best recruiting sergeant the north ever had. to reinforce this, we look at what happens in 1864, when general sherman makes a decisive victory in capturing the port city of savannah. many consider this to be one of the deathknell's of the how to sherman characterizes? beg to present you, as a christmas gift, the city of savannah. and he respond by saying many chris -- may things for your gift, the capture of savannah. santag on the fact that claus is part of the union cause.
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learn more about christmas traditions tonight on american history tv. >> john allen shares with young military academy students's lessons learned about the duties of being an officer. he's dressed as the importance of understanding military history, and respecting america's constitutional principles. this talk was part of the american veteran center annual conference in >> we are indeed and again fortunate to see stars today, lots of them, 4 across each shoulder. we are privileged to have general john allen, united states marine corps retired, four-star general, former commander of nato international security assistance force in afghanistan.


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