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tv   President Bill Clinton Impeachment - House Floor Debate  CSPAN  January 5, 2020 7:30pm-9:01pm EST

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national political correspondent for the hill newspaper. we then show a portion of the u.s. house floor debate from december 19, on four articles of impeachment. approve twoted to of those articles. the made donald trump only second president be impeached since andrew johnson in 1868. >> the house of representatives taking up articles of impeachment. we will show you some of the highlights. moved how these articles from the committee to the floor in just a week. >> they passed out of the house judiciary committee. there was lots of discussion about what the rules would be.
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the house judiciary 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 monica lewinsky question. they gave themselves wide running room rate democrats try to keep that from happening. ,he rules were established and our memory is, partyline vote, the republicans were in control of the committee and moved pretty swiftly. the house floor was ready to take it up under the republican leadership of the house at the time. >> those of us here remember so much drama. we went through three speakers within a couple of days, first with the resignation of speech
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or -- of speaker newt gingrich. bob livingston became the next in line, then what happened? >> there was a scramble. allies bob livingston's tried to talk him out of it. --had made the decision to resigned with some agony. was aigned because there full on press in the democratic world. larry flynt was asking for anyone to come forward with information about any of the republicans to come forward with information it had been reported, and he understood that larry flynt was going to publish this. friends,colleagues, my especially my wife and family, i have hurt you deeply and i beg
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your forgiveness. i was prepared to lead as speaker and i believe i had it fine job, but i cannot do that job. a house memberen who confessed to his wife that he was absolutely certain that it will get published. proactively trying to head off what he thought would be disaster. president clinton and his defenders knew that there were a variety of house members at that time who had a reputation for stepping out on their family relationships or having relationships that were not expect it. in this case, denny hastert became the speaker after livingston was drafted unexpectedly. he took some time to think about
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it. .nitially he said, no he said he went and prayed about it and came forward and said he would do it. course, we understood as we headed into the holidays, that there was this discordant terrain of everyone celebrating the end of the year, the holidays. at the white house, at the time, there was an annual christmas press party in which the press corps was invited. dour kind of event because the president did not show up. hillary clinton the first lady, did it by herself. in theked very unhappy line. the feeling was that she was angry at her husband but also at
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the news media. >> if you could just put a footnote on denny yesterday's career. >> we did not realize at the time that denny hastert, who had been a very quiet coach earlier andis life, he left office it later became apparent through a legal case that he had been paying basically blackmail money to what had been a young man, a student, someone he had coached, and had improper sexual relations with this young man, and had been paying big money ,or a long period of time hiding from his bank, etc., and he ended up being prosecuted and convicted for the money he had been paid.
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forthocrats were putting a strategy of censure, not impeachment. >> there were lots of efforts to think, is there some way to punish the president that would stop short of impeachment? one effort was trying to encourage the house republicans, would they buy into the idea of a resolution of censure? there was a rejection of that out of hand because republicans argued that it would be meaningless in the larger scheme of things and that the president's offenses were so grave that he deserved to be removed from office. and that a vote of impeachment, which had only happened once before, because richard nixon resigned before the house could impeach him, they felt that
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would be a lasting legacy whatever happened in the senate. they came back in the senate. there was also discussion about whether it was worth it to try to argue to have the articles of impeachment dismissed. that came up later in the senate. worth filing a motion to have it all dismissed? there were lots of efforts to talk about ways to punish the president without actually impeaching him. house republicans were determined to move ahead. >> my follow-up question, why? what was the gop strategy? lived in,world they the president's behavior was so offensive. her number, many of these lawmakers lived in districts
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where bill clinton was not necessarily as popular as he was nationwide. even talkedam has about this, that looking back on it, the view of the house republican managers was not in sync with where the general population was. asy were willing to see this a personal failing of a sexual sort that was really part of his family relationship. it was a responsibility to his family, not necessarily to the american people. thatnswer publicans felt it was a violation of his oath of office and he had done damage to the nation and he deserved to be punished for it. steve: what do you remember, if anything, of the floor debate in the house? alexis: it was very vigorous and fraught but it also showcased the stark differences that were argued. so for instance, the democrats
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were able to put up a defense that, as i suggested, went along the democratic talking points, which is that the republicans were zealous. this was a coup. this was an effort to get back at bill clinton for his reelection. and the republicans were really offering a very passionate and determined argument that he had violated the mores of a nation, violated his constitutional oath of office, and there was a lot of passion on all sides. steve: here is that debate, a portion of it. this network was in its 19th year from december of 1998, the floor debate of the impeachment of president clinton. >> a resolution impeaching william jefferson clinton, president of the united states for high crimes and misdemeanors. >> pursuant to the order of the
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house of friday, december 18, 1998, the resolution is debatable for one additional hour, equally divided between the gentleman from illinois, mr. hyde, and the gentleman from michigan, mr. conyers. >> i'm pleased to recognize the gentlelady from california for one minute. >> the gentlelady is recognized for one minute. >> thank you. i rise to oppose these articles of impeachment and this flawed and undemocratic process. this process and action are the real crimes against the american people and our democracy. this march 2 impeachment this 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 which history has proven can lead to authoritarian rule.
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this republican party coup underscores their only goal is to turn back the clock on an agenda that puts people first, and agenda that will cancel policies that value and support basic human rights, such as the 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 and supports the bill of rights and preserves social security. the republican process is cynical and dangerous. it will be recorded that they stood on the wrong side of history. we must restore the public trust and establish a congress which communicates respect for the people of the united states and democracy. [applause] minute to the cattlemen from south carolina, lindsey graham.
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>> ladies and gentlemen of the house, this long and difficult process -- >> the house will be in order. >> this long and difficult process for all of us in the house is almost a conclusion. , a democratically controlled committee with a minority of republicans reported arguments -- reported articles of impeachment against richard nixon. why? nixon cheated. he cheated the system by concealing efforts of a political break in. 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.
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we believe he lied under over -- undergrowth -- lied under oath numerous times, that he tampered with evidence, that he conspired to present false testimony to a court of law. we believe he has sullied our 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. for one minute. >> like all my colleagues, i've spent a great deal of time reviewing the judiciary committee testimony of evidence. let me make absolutely clear i do not condone the behavior of the president, but the framers made clear the constitutional act of impeachment is not meant to punish a president for deplorable behavior, but to protect our nation from acts which jeopardizes our democratic system. what the president did was wrong
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both personally and morally, but it does not threaten our democracy, and thus do not 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. they sent a censure resolution which we 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 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. >> gentleman from illinois. >> mr. speaker, i'm pleased to
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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 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, and that we may freely engage in
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this most unpleasant aspect of self-government, as was envisioned by our forefathers. i very much regret the hostility and entity that has been bred in -- entity that has been bred in 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
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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 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 pawns on the 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 take lesser presidents and 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
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hyde and mr. conyers and mr. tom mooney, and all of the members of staff, majority and minority, for their 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 -- that we 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
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hastily and 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. 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 -- differences in process. what about substance? the minority has maintained the
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president has not perjured himself, and that even if he did, search 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 for which the president may be held accountable 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 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, wrote to the judiciary committee just two
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weeks ago said, "i too was called upon to give answers under oath during a civil proceeding. truthful answers to those questions would be embarrassing to me. and would, i knew, expose 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. 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 by a conscience to tell the truth." yes, our nation is founded on law and not the whim of men.
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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 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. 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 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 justice on these most serious
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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 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.
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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 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
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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, for all 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. golpe de estado. -- that's spanish for
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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 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. 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 you, don't do this to him. don't ask him to quit. bill clinton will never quit. [applause] >> the chair would ask all
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members to respect the time constraints under which we are operating. the gentleman from michigan is recognized for three minutes. >> thank you, mr. speaker. 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
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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 because of a lack of specificity. if you can believe that, 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 that 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 deprives the plaintiff paula jones of her day in court. not so. the record shows that a federal judge ruled three times that
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monica lewinsky's allegations were not relevant to the core issue of the jones case and refused to permit the lawyers to pursue the allegations. they say the president lied when testifying about his understanding of the definition of sexual relations. 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
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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 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 ms. currie 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
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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 showed that ms. currie was never a witness on any list. ms. currie 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. but 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
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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, but we say the president can't be impeached without denigrating the rule of law and evaluating the standards of impeachable -- devaluating the standards of impeachable offenses. [applause] >> 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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believe it or not, i have been very depressed about this whole proceeding. 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. 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. 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, reckless, he's violated the trust of the american people, lessened their esteem for the office of resident, 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. i cannot in good conscience after watching newt gingrich put
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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,
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confess that mistake, and accept the consequences of that mistake and change the way you lived your life and keep moving and make a contribution to this country. i think you should think about both sides. so ladies and gentlemen, 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 am pleased to
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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. gentleman may proceed. >> mr. speaker, i am 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? someone wants to run for office, are you now or have you ever been on adulterer?
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we are losing sight of the distinction between sins, which ought to be between a person, his family, his god, and crimes, which are the concern of the state and society as a whole. [applause] on one level, we could say you reap what you sowed. that gives us no joy. i wish mr. livingston would reconsider, because i don't think on the basis of what we know, he should resign. [applause] >> time of the gentleman has expired. >> 30 seconds? >> i yield the gentleman and additional 30 seconds. >> thank you. the impeachment of the president is even worse. again we are losing distinction of -- track of the distinction
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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 to the fact that we already have a leader that is resigning. god forbid he should resign. he should fight and beat this. [applause] >> gentleman from illinois. >> mr. speaker, i am 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. [gavel]
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>> mr. speaker, we are gathered here to deal with the problem none of us wants. we agreed upon 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 discussed the -- 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 that they are also in bosnia, kosovo, and nose to nose with north korean soldiers in the dmz. a quarter million american
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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. none of them could keep their job, the privilege of being ordered into battle, if they 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 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 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 american troops. let us once again respect the institution of the presidency. let us see to it in deed 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] >> 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.
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>> the gentleman will suspend for a minute. the house will be in order. house will be in order. the gentleman is recognized for one minute. >> 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 reckless speeding was permissible, but we certainly wouldn't use a 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] >> mr. speaker, i'm pleased to yield five minutes to the distinguished member of florida, member of the judiciary committee, mr. mccullen. >> the gentleman from florida is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you very much speaker. there are three principal questions each of us has to answer today. first, did the president commit the felony crimes of which he
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has been charged? secondly, are they impeachable offenses? and third, should we impeach him? my task is to explain how i believe and you should understand 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 behavior with women in his employment. long before the president and monica lewinsky were called as witnesses, they reached an understanding that they would lie about their relationship if asked. 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.
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during that conversation, they discussed the cover story they previously discussed on other occasions. the president suggested she can file an affidavit to avoid testifying in that suit. monica lewinsky, subsequently, as we all know, filed a false affidavit that was perjurious in 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 evidence of the first of seven counts of obstruction of justice in article three. i'd like to call my colleagues'
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attention to the way the column reads. it says the scheme the president 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 ms. lewinsky, the efforts to get to ms. curry, his secretary, to corroborate his later false testimony. all proven by the evidence in the pages of sworn testimony we reviewed. 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. >> the gentleman may proceed. >> in january, after this
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affidavit incident, once it was prepared and it was filed and all the sordid details in it with regards to where it took place, the president testified under oath in a civil disposition and lied again and again. the principal lie he told that 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 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 monica lewinsky talked with contemporaneously engaging in those activities 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 clear definition as he understood it, the president
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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, his personal friend, had met with monica lewinsky and talked about the case. the evidence indicates that he lied. it also indicates the president 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, except maybe when she was delivering pizza. the evidence indicates he lied. he couldn't recall the exchanged gifts between monica lewinsky and himself, and so on down the road. he lied then, he went to the grand jury and lied under oath. that's article two and three. 1, 2, 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
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this congress. that's a grave insult to the constitutional system of government. the president of the united states 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 submit he should be impeached. the evidence is clear. there's no question he subverted our system of government. he should be impeached. thank you. >> mr. speaker, i recognize for one minute the distinguished gentleman from georgia, the minority deputy, mr. john lewis. >> the 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.
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before we cast this one floor vote, we all should ask the question, is this good for america? is it good for the american people? is it good for this institution? when i was growing up in rural alabama during the 1940's and 1950'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 the house. lightning started flashing, the thunder started rolling. she asked us to come in and hold
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hands, and we did. >> i apologize, i have no more time. >> and as the wind continued to blow, we would walk to the corner of the house, another corner tried to lift. we never left the house. the wind may blow, the thunder may crash, the lightning may smash, but we must never leave this house, we must stay together as a family. one family, one house. the american house, the american family. [applause] >> the gentleman from illinois. without objection. the house will be in order.
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the gentleman has 5.5 minutes. [gavel] gentlemen, just suspend until we have order. the 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 in one of tolstoy's novels, 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, confusion between private acts of infidelity and
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public acts, whereas you raise your right hand and ask god to witness the truth you think. that's a public act. adultery is not a public act, it's a private act. the government, the congress, has no business intruding into private acts. [applause] but it is our business, our duty to observe public acts by public officials. i hope that confusion doesn't persist. the rule fof law, a phrase we heard, along with fairness and reprehensible, more often than not, it in real danger today if
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we cheapen the oath, because justice depends on the enforceability of the oath. i don't care about the subject matter, if it's important enough to say i raise my right hand and swear by the almighty god 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 censure him. that is impeachment lite. you want to censure him with no real consequences except as history chooses to oppose them.
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we suggest 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 -- 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. 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 of punishing the president.
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i speak not for the gentleman across the hall. no fact witnesses. i have heard that repeated again and again. we had 60,000 pages of testimony from the grand jury, from depositions from statement under oath, that is testimony you can believe and accept. we chose to believe it. and accept it. why reinterview betty curry to take another statement when we already had her statement? white interview monica lewinsky -- why interview monica lewinsky when we had her statement under oath and with a grant of immunity, that if she lied, she would forfeit? if you didn't trust those people, if you didn't accept their credibility, you have the opportunity to call them and cross-examine them to your hearts content, but no, you really didn't want to bring them in and 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 you haven't lived until you have been sued by somebody aunt 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's what we are fighting for. when the chief law enforcement officer trivializes, ignores , shreds, minimizes the sanctity of the oath, and justice is wounded, and you are wounded, and your children are wounded. follow your conscience and you will serve the country. thank you.
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[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? >> mr. speaker, i have a motion to recommit at the desk. >> is the gentleman opposed? >> i am, mr. speaker. >> the gentleman qualifies. the clerk will report. >> mr. voucher moves to recommit solution -- the resolution to the committee on the judiciary committee with instructions to report the same back to the house with the following amendment.
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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 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. two a, william jefferson clinton
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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. >> the gentleman from the you -- from new york, rise. >> 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 the member oppose, each will control five minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from virginia for five
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minutes. >> thank you, mr. speaker. i yield myself such time as i may consume. this debate comes very late and it comes in 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 -- to the 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. with the leadership's
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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 -- and adopted by the house and this censure resolution could have and should have been made an order from the start. but that did not occur. the members 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. its purpose is to remove from office a president whose conduct
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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. without objection.
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rep. gephardt: mr. speaker and members 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. [applause]
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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 test of purity that some are demanding our elected leaders take. [applause]
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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 dominates our public debate, and
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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] rep. gephardt: we need to start healing.
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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] rep. gephardt: the only way we stop this spiral is for all of us to finally say, enough.
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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 -- make congress have the wisdom and the courage, and the goodness to save itself today. [applause]
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[cheers and applause]
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>> while the pending resolution addresses impeachment as a question of the privileges of the house, the rule of 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. the chair must remain cognizant however that the resolution does not entirely, in the framework
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of the articles impeachment, rather, that in vain, any separate censure 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. rather, the chair holds today only that the instance proposal -- the instant 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 -- resolution of impeachment, and intrinsically separate question of the privileges of the house. >> mr. speaker. >> the gentleman from missouri, the majority leader is recognized. >> mr. speaker with all due respect i must appeal the ruling of the chair.
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>> 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 aye. those opposed no. in the opinion of the chair the ayes have it. >> mr. speaker, i demand a roll call vote. >> let me announce that 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 a week before christmas, the house has just voted to impeach the sitting president , only 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 by 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. so 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 happen, she had become so practiced at answering
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questions, giving depositions in -- and giving testimony, that 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 said it 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. so she was out there. people saw her. >> we are going to see for the first time a trial in the senate. explain how this all came together. who were the key players?
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you mentioned the chief justice. william rehnquist. the role of the senators, they are jurors in the trial, the impeachment. 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 the 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 were going to divide up the president's defense.
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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 build bumpers -- 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 bill clinton very well. they had actually been rivals in the state of arkansas. he got talked into it. he thought about it and said yes.
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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 really 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. >> he actually represented bill clinton's perspective to the
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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. you could tell, 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 internal strife and different ways of doing this.
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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 would get what role to 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. sit and listen. >> they don't speak, yes. as i said, the questions, whatever they were interested in asking, and a lot of this was preprepared, had to be written down and the managers had to agree to give it to the chief justice.
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the chief justice tried to stay out of it as much as possible. he came out pretty unscathed. actually chief justice rehnquist wrote a book about this. he knew a lot about the history of impeachment. and the sitting there part of it was really interesting because it's very, very rare for the senate to sit -- all members to sit there. remember, 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 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.
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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. 2020] >> continue to follow the impeachment on c-span, live unfiltered cover on's -- coverage on c-span, on demand at and listen on the free c-span radio app. >> american history tv is on c-span3 every weekend featuring museum tours come archival films
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, on the presidency, the civil war, and more. >> as we step into history, we grow with our prayers and the song that says it all. may we have a belltown? ♪ >> ♪ should old acquaintance be never brought to mind should old acquaintance be and think of auld lang syne dearuld lang syne, my for auld lang syne
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cup of time, my dear for auld lang syne ♪ [applause] ♪ >> you can watch this and other american history programs on our website, where all our video is archived. that is >> in the third of a three-part program, we look to the 1998-1999 impeachment of president bill clinton with alexis simendinger. she covered the impeachment with "national journal" and now is with "the hill" newspaper. we then show portions of the
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u.s. senate trial, which took place over five weeks in january and february of 1999. president clinton was tried on two articles of impeachment and acquitted on both. a two thirds vote of guilty was necessary in order to convict. >> will all senators stand and raise your right hand. do you solemnly swear that in all things pertaining to the impeachment of william jefferson clinton, president of the united states, now pending, you will do impartial justice according to the constitution and laws, so help you god? the clerk will call the names and record the responses. steve: it was january 7, 1999. from the floor of the u.s. senate, the trial against president bill clinton. joining us is alexis simendinger. we had never seen anything like this before, because the last trial was back in the 1860's. no television, of course, with andrew joh.


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