THE IMPEACHMENT HEARINGS
Dec. 8: Second Panel of White House Witnesses
Tuesday, December 8, 1998
REP. HYDE: The committee will come to order, please. Ladies and gentlemen, our second panel is composed of three very distinguished former members of Congress: The honorable Elizabeth Holtzman, the honorable Wayne Owens, and Father Robert Drinan. Would the three of you please rise and take the oath?
Do you solemnly swear or affirm that the testimony you are about to give before this committee will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?
ALL: I do.
REP. HYDE: Thank you. Let the record reflect the witnesses answered the question in the affirmative. And first we will hear from the honorable Elizabeth Holtzman, a former representative from New York and member of the House Judiciary Committee during the 1974 impeachment proceedings and for some years thereafter. I had the great pleasure of serving with her, as well as with Father Drinan, the honorable Robert J. Drinan, Society of Jesus, a professor at Georgetown University Law Center, former representative from Massachusetts and member of the House Judiciary Committee from 1971 to '81. The honorable Wayne Owens, a former representative from Utah and a member of the House Judiciary Committee during the 1974 impeachment proceedings.
You're each recognized. We'll go from Ms. Holtzman, Father Drinan to Mr. Owens, for a 10-minute statement. And then we'll go into the five-minute rule for questions. So Ms. Holtzman.
MS. HOLTZMAN: Mr. Chairman, members of the committee --
REP. HYDE: Put your mike on, please.
MS. HOLTZMAN: Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, I thank you for the privilege of appearing before you on this historic day and hope my experiences as a member of the House Judiciary Committee during Watergate will be of assistance to you and the members of the House in your deliberations.
Let me begin by saying, Mr. Chairman, that I welcome the opportunity to appear before you. While we had our disagreements when we served together in the House, I always had tremendous regard for your ability to be thoughtful and open-minded. It was a pleasure to serve with you. These very qualities are what the committee sorely needs now.
Nearly a quarter of a century ago, sitting where you are now, I never imagined in my lifetime that we would see another impeachment proceeding. I am saddened to be here today. I love this committee, I love the Congress and I love my country. But if this committee and the House vote along party lines for the impeachment of President William Jefferson Clinton on the information presently available, the credibility of the committee and the Congress will be severely damaged for a long time. This impeachment will be viewed by the nation and by history with as much disapproval as that of Andrew Johnson.
I know that many on this committee and many in the country believe the president's conduct to be reprehensible and unacceptable. I do not disagree, and I'm not here to excuse that conduct. Let us remember, however, that the goal of impeachment is not to punish a president but to protect the nation. Impeachment now will punish the nation, not protect it.
Consider how much the country will be harmed by an impeachment trial in the Senate if the House votes any articles of impeachment; a trial which could last for months, will disrupt the workings of the Supreme Court. The chief justice will have to preside every day over the Senate trial. It will disrupt the workings of the Senate. It will disrupt the presidency.
That is one of the reasons that impeachment cannot be voted lightly. The danger to the nation of having a president remain in office must be greater than the danger caused by the wholesale disruption of our government that an impeachment trial will bring. The American people are not likely to look kindly on a government shutdown number two.
During Watergate, I spent many long hours poring over books and studies to understand the meaning of the term "high crimes and misdemeanors." The framers of the Constitution wrote the impeachment clause because they were fearful that the monarchy they had just overthrown in the revolution would return; that a newly created chief executive, the president, would become a tyrant.
But Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr's referral makes out no case of abuse of power, a subject I have been asked to address by the White House. In Watergate, the articles of impeachment that charged -- in Watergate, the article of impeachment that charged abuse of power was, in a way, the most serious. And it was the one that received the largest number of Republican votes.
Think of what presidential abuses we saw then: Getting the CIA to stop an FBI investigation, getting the IRS to audit political enemies, illegally wiretapping members of the National Security Council staff and of the press, a special unit in the White House to break into the psychiatrist's office of a political enemy, and on and on.
By contrast, what does Mr. Starr point to as an abuse of power in his referral? Acts that do not, in the farthest stretch of the imagination, constitute any such abuse. Mr. Starr claims that the president did not voluntarily appear before a grand jury but had to be subpoenaed before he appeared. That is surely not an abuse of power.
Mr. Starr attacked the fact that the president authorized executive privilege to be claimed for a handful of staff members and required the independent counsel to prove his need for their testimony in court. Of course, once the court ruled that the testimony was required, then the president withdrew the claim. That, too, is not an abuse. Mr. Clinton's telling the American people that he did not have a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky is also not an abuse of power, although it was the wrong thing to do.
Parenthetically, I want to note that as one of the authors of the independent counsel statute, I believe that Mr. Starr overstepped his jurisdiction by arguing for impeachment on this ground or any ground. Both the referral and his appearance here go far beyond what the statute permits. We never intended to create a great inquisitor for impeachment.
I want to make a few other brief points. I have heard it said that this committee views itself as a kind of grand jury and that it merely needs probably cause, not overwhelming evidence, to impeach. Instead, it is the Senate that must have substantial evidence to act. But if you use the analogy of a grand jury, then you should not be impeaching at all. No indictment would be sought by a prosecutor where there is no chance for conviction. And it is almost universally conceded that there are not enough votes in the Senate to convict President Clinton and remove him from office. In fact, federal prosecutors need to have a substantial likelihood of success before they can recommend indictment to the grand jury.
Why is this the case? Because prosecutions that go nowhere use up precious resources. And let us not forget how much money has already been spent on investigating President Clinton. It is almost an abuse of power to indict someone, seriously damage that person's reputation, and force that person to the tremendous burden of putting up a defense when there is little or no likelihood of conviction.
The same analogy holds true here. Impeachment should not be voted by the House unless there is a strong likelihood of conviction in the Senate. Impeachment is not a kind of super-censure designed simply to besmirch a president's reputation. Impeachment is a tool to remove a president from office. It is a last resort to preserve our democracy. It must not be perverted or trivialized.
Also, to use a different metaphor, this is not a football game where one player, the House, simply hands off the ball to another player, the Senate. In Watergate, when we voted for impeachment, we did so because we believed President Richard Nixon should be and would be removed from office. We did not operate on some watered-down standard of evidence.
We didn't think we were passing the buck to the Senate, where the real action would take place. We voted as if we were the Senate, as if we ourselves were deciding on his removal, as if the case had been proven to us beyond a reasonable doubt. That same standard should be followed here. You just don't casually overturn the majority vote of the American people.
And let me add, too, how difficult it was to cast the vote for impeachment. It was solemn, hard and unpleasant. Much as I disliked Richard Nixon's policies, I did not relish for one moment voting for impeachment. He was my president, and I did not want to see my president engage in acts of that nature. I think the other members on the committee felt the same way.
Unless this committee and the House act on a bipartisan basis and reach out for the common ground, as we did during Watergate, unless you have the full support of the American people for the enormous disruption of our government that an impeachment trial will entail, unless you have overwhelming evidence of the serious abuse of power that impeachment requires, none of which have been true so far, you should not, you must not, vote to impeach.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. HYDE: Thank you very much, Ms. Holtzman. Father Drinan.
FATHER DRINAN: Mr. Chairman and members of this venerable committee, the situation before the House Judiciary Committee today is entirely different from the scene that I and my co-partners here experienced in 1974. At that time, the country knew there was extensive lawlessness in the White House. The documentation of appalling crimes was known by everyone. Abuse of power and criminality were apparent to the American people.
There is well-documented evidence put forth in the report of that committee in 1974 about the plumbers, the break-in of Dr. Ellsberg's office, and the cover-up of the burglary at the Watergate Hotel. The procedure followed by the House Judiciary Committee at that time was, however, even-handed. Months of hearings took place with the president's lawyer, Mr. Jim St. Clair, always present in this room and free to make any comments and ask questions.
Today the scene is startlingly different. No investigation has been made by the House Judiciary Committee, nor have any fact-finding hearings been held. The 21 Republicans have no support whatsoever from the 16 Democrats. And in addition, two-thirds of the nation or more are opposed to impeachment.
In 1974, the members of the Democratic majority had constant conversation and dialogue with the Republican members, and I remember intimately going to the Republicans and sharing with them the destiny of this committee and the awesome task that had come to us. The Democrats were aware of the intense problems that the Republicans had with the impeachment of a Republican president. But eventually, through the sheer force of the evidence, six or seven of the Republicans voted for one or more articles of impeachment. That was not a happy day when we voted for impeachment, and I remember well that Chairman Rodino said to the press afterwards, when asked what was the first thing that he did, he said, "I went to my office and cried."
Another difference: The House Judiciary Committee in 1998, unlike its predecessor, where we served, has allowed its agenda to be dictated by the calendar. Strategy has been determined not by the need for thoroughness and fairness but by the convenience of ending this process by Christmas of this year.
The House Judiciary Committee in 1974, furthermore, did not vote for all of the proposed articles of impeachment. A serious charge was made that Mr. Nixon had back-dated his taxes in an effort to take advantage of an exemption that had been repealed, and only 12 members of the body voted for the proposition that this was an impeachable offense. Twenty-four members, including myself, voted that this misconduct, almost certainly a felony, was not impeachable.
The dignity and the majesty of the Rodino company was not out to embarrass or humiliate President Nixon. What we were required to do was painful, but we worked, heard, listened, debated, and finally voted. And the people of America, then and now, saw that the process was deliberate, bipartisan and measured.
The only time in American history that has seen anything like the process this fall before the House Judiciary Committee occurred in 1868, when President Andrew Johnson was impeached by the House. The consensus of history is that the Johnson impeachment was partisan and was a mistake. Its failure in the Senate did not prevent a weakening of the independence of the presidency. And I hope, ladies and gentlemen, that history will not decree that the House Judiciary Committee made a profound mistake in 1998 and that this body will go down in the history books as it was dominated by vindictiveness and by vengeance and by partisanship.
The American people, who are so overwhelmingly opposed to impeachment, may be coming aware of the dreadful consequences that would happen to America if the House approved of impeachment and sent articles to the Senate. The entire nation knows that there are, under no consideration, 67 votes for that proposition in the Senate. But what the nation doesn't realize yet is that the country could be paralyzed for some six months. The workings of the Supreme Court would be harmed because the chief justice, under the Constitution, must preside each day at the trial. The Senate's program would be held up and the whole country would be immobilized.
The House cannot pretend that it has only to act like a grand jury and send the articles to the Senate for trial. There is no historical or constitutional (leap?) of justification for that program that you act as a grand jury. The House has a unique role in impeachment.
The votes cast by each member will be the most important vote cast by that person as a member of Congress, and history will discover and record and remember, whether that vote was done for partisan reasons.
A vote to impeach, in this case, would have dire consequences for years and even decades to come. Almost 70 percent of the nation, and virtually every Democrat in the Congress, are opposed to impeachment. These groups believe firmly that even if all the allegations in the Starr Report are true, there are no impeachable offenses. And I would anticipate members, of the committee, an explosion of anger like that that occurred after the Saturday Night Massacre, could happen in this country, when people realize what you people anticipate you will do this Saturday, and when it goes to the whole House, an explosion of anger, just like happened 24 years ago, when Mr. Richardson and Mr. Cox did some brave things.
Let me conclude, Mr. Chairman, by thanking you for the opportunity and urging you and the committee to recognize that the American people and the Democrats in Congress, have a right to be listened to. They have not agreed with any reasons for impeachment set forth by the Starr Report, and the Republican leadership in the Congress. This nation has a right to demand that an impeachment effort, with no bipartisan support whatsoever, should be reconsidered and postponed. Thank you very much.
REP. HYDE: Thank you, Father. Mr. Owens.
MR. OWENS: Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen of the committee. I feel like we're appearing before you as three ghosts of impeachment past. (Laughter.) With the exception of Ms. Holtzman, we are gray ghosts. We're grateful to be back in this hallowed chamber. Thank you for giving us this opportunity.
I remember keenly this afternoon how I felt 25 years ago, when I learned, while deer hunting in the mountains of southern Utah, of the so-called Saturday Night Massacre, the forced resignation of Attorney- General Elliot Richardson and of Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus, and then of Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox. I'd been following the revelations of the Senate Watergate committee for six months. It was obvious that Sunday morning, that the House would be required to pursue an impeachment investigation, and that my committee, the Judiciary Committee, would be called to conduct that investigation.
I think that I was initially in awe of the assignment, almost intimidated. No president had been called to account by the Congress for 100 years. History would be looking over our shoulder, and we wanted, from Chairman Rodino on down, Republicans and Democrats, to be sure that we were careful, judicial, and bipartisan in all that we did.
While we recognized that impeachment was a political process, we were determined that it would not be a partisan process. And we reported unanimously our recommendations to the House that the investigation go forward, all 21 Democrats and 17 Republicans. And it was accepted by the full House by a vote of 410 to four.
So, we are aware, I think, of your feelings as you approach the decisions you must make. Chairman Hyde indicated early on, that the precedents of the Nixon impeachment would be followed closely. And I want to argue to you, that President Clinton's misdeeds do not reach the standard of impeachment which our committee established.
What was that standard? We defined "impeachment" in our final report as, quote, "a constitutional remedy addressed to serious offenses against the system of government." Ten Republican members of the committee, in a minority report, argued for a higher standard of judgment, saying, quote, "the president should be removable by the legislative branch only for serious misconduct dangerous to the system of government established by the Constitution." The man who is now the Senate Majority Leader, then-Congressman Trent Lott, a member of the committee, was one of the 10 arguing for that higher standard.
I want to recall for you briefly, the circumstances surrounding the adoption of the so-called abuse of power articles of impeachment in late July 1974. The committee had just passed the first article referred to as the obstruction of justice article, by a solid vote of 21 Democrats and six of the 17 republicans. Proposed article of impeachment number two, after serious consideration and debate, was passed by an even-larger majority. A total of seven Republicans joined 21 Democrats, finding that President Nixon had violated the constitutional rights of citizens in five specific categories of abuse of his powers, and voted to report the article to the floor for full House consideration.
I urge you to consider carefully the gravity of those charges, which an overwhelming and bipartisan majority of the committee found to be sustained by not only clear and convincing evidence, but in fact, by evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, the test for conviction in the Senate.
It was obvious to us, that President Nixon would go to trial in the Senate, and that we wanted to have a standard which would pass muster in the Senate. President Nixon, it was clear, one, directed or authorized his subordinates to interfere with the impartial and non- political administration of the Internal Revenue law for political purposes.
Two, he directed or authorized unlawful electronic surveillance and investigations of citizens in the use of information obtained from the surveillance, for his own political advantage.
Three, he permitted a secret investigative unit within the Office of the President, to engage in unlawful and covert activities for his political purposes, including abuse of the CIA.
Four, once these and other unlawful and improper activities on his behalf were suspected, and after he knew or had reason to know that his close subordinates were interfering with lawful investigations into them, he failed to perform his duty to see that the criminal laws were enforced against those subordinates.
And five, he used his executive power to interfere with the lawful operations of agencies of the Executive Branch, including the Department of Justice and the Central Intelligence Agency, in order to assist in these activities, as well as to conceal the truth about his misconduct, and that of his subordinates and agents.
Today you are faced with a record of misdeeds by a president who carried on an illicit sexual affair, then publicly and privately misled others, to protect his wife and daughter, and the public, from finding out about his infidelity; personal, not official misconduct, akin to President Nixon cheating on his taxes. Improper and serious, but by nature personal misconduct, and therefore not impeachable.
Your obligation, may I be permitted to point it out to you, is to put those powerful differences into perspective, and to render a judgment based solely on the gravity of the offense charged here, because there is little disagreement on the facts.
I know that it is said that impeachment is a political, not a legal decision. But if you vote to impeach a president because he had an improper sexual affair, then avoided full disclosure by using narrow legal definitions, even then affirming that testimony before a grand jury, if you impeach on that narrow basis of personal not official misconduct, you do untold damage to the Constitution and to the stability of future presidents.
Our forefathers wisely intended that only abuses of official presidential powers should be the premise for impeachment. And ladies and gentlemen, there is no evidence of such abuses before the committee, none at all.
In closing, may I quote again briefly from the minority views of those 10 House Judiciary Committee Republicans, who ultimately accepted and supported the articles of impeachment, so that there was a unanimity in the Judiciary Committee before the president resigned. From their minority views, this.
"Absent the element of danger to the state, we believe the delegates to the Federal Convention in 1787, in providing that the president should serve for a fixed elective term rather than during good behavior or popularity, struck the balance in favor of stability in the Executive Branch."
Thank you very much.
REP. HYDE: Thank you very much, Mr. Owens. Now we will have the questions from the members. And the first questioner is Mr. Sensenbrenner.
REP. SENSENBRENNER: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Ms. Holtzman, I believe that after you left Congress, you spent some time as District Attorney in Brooklyn. Am I correct in that?
MS. HOLTZMAN: Yes, Mr. Sensenbrenner. I also had the pleasure of serving with you in --
REP. SENSENBRENNER: Yes, and I remember that very vividly. Do you think that making false statement before a grand jury is an impeachable offense?
MS. HOLTZMAN: It could be. But it doesn't have to be.
REP. SENSENBRENNER: What's the difference in your mind?
MS. HOLTZMAN: What Mr. Owens so eloquently spoke to, which is that in my judgment, whether the conduct is reprehensible or not,whether we find it extremely distasteful or not, the standard for impeachment is the abuse of the power of office, one that creates a serious danger to the operations of our government, and a threat to our democracy, which is what we saw in Watergate.
REP. SENSENBRENNER: Now, the last impeachment that was voted by the House of Representatives was nine years ago, in 1989. And there, the House of Representatives unanimously, 417 to nothing, declared that Judge Walter Nixon's false statements to the grand jury about a private matter, which was a sweetheart oil and gas lease deal, were impeachable offenses. And the Senate agreed with the House's charge, and kicked Judge Nixon out of office, I believe by a 91 to 8 vote. Can you tell me what you think the difference is between Judge Nixon's false statements to a grand jury about a private oil and gas lease that did not have anything to do with grievously defrauding the government or changing the constitutional balance of powers, and Bill Clinton's false statements, if they indeed were false statements to the grand jury about his relations with Monica Lewinsky?
MS. HOLTZMAN: Mr. Sensenbrenner, I think that the members of this committee can see, and the country can see, that there is a huge difference between impeaching on federal judge and removing -- because there are hundreds of federal judges -- and removing the one president of the United States. And obviously, the situation of removal of a president, is so grave. Because a president is voted upon. Judges, federal judges, are not elected.
You're undoing the majority vote of the American people. That is central to our democratic system. It is central to the stability of this nation. We've survived this democracy very well, the presidency has been a central part of it.
But the second answer to your question, sir, is that judges serve during good behavior, which is something that does not apply to presidents.
It's a constitutional standard, and so I think it's quite different.
REP. SENSENBRENNER: Let me say I am deeply concerned with that answer. Because what you're saying is that the standard of truthfulness for a President of the United States when testifying before a grand jury is less than the standard of truthfulness for a federal judge. Now, you and I will disagree with that conclusion.
MS. HOLTZMAN: No.
REP. SENSENBRENNER: But I've looked back in the record, as I'm sure all of us have, and I pulled out your questioning of Gerald Ford when he was before this committee, having been nominated to be vice president by President Nixon, who was still in office at the time. And you talked to Mr. Ford about Nixon lying, allegedly, about the bombing of Cambodia. Mr. Ford responded that he didn't think that President Nixon had been a hundred percent truthful on that matter and then insisted that all presidents had given some false and deceptive statements. You then said there was a difference between keeping a secret and falsifying information. And you added, quote, "I think all of us understand that difference very well." Could you tell us, then, is there not a major difference between historical falsehood as opposed to lies before a federal court proceeding or a grand jury?
MS. HOLTZMAN: Mr. Sensenbrenner, I hate to answer a question with a question, but don't you think there is an enormous difference between keeping a dual set of books about bombing of a foreign country without the authorization of Congress and not telling the truth about a private sexual misconduct?
REP. SENSENBRENNER: I think there is -- there should be no difference, because our perjury and false statement statutes, you know, do not have various levels of perjury. When you do make a false statement you have to live by the consequences. And I think we all try to teach our kids that one of the things they always should do is always tell the truth.
REP. HYDE: The gentleman's time has expired.
The gentleman from Michigan reserves his time, and we will then go to the gentleman from Massachusetts, Mr. Frank.
REP. BARNEY FRANK (D-MA): Let me follow up. Mr. Sensenbrenner said that he would see no difference between lying about a private sexual affair and lying about bombing a country, and that there was no gradation at all.
One of the three counts of grand jury perjury -- and I think grand jury perjury is the most serious set of issues. One of the three counts is, according to Mr. Starr, the president said that the intimate activity began in February of '96, and Ms. Lewinsky said it began in November of 1995.
And here I would just express my difference with Mr. Sensenbrenner. I do think even if the president was wrong, and got it wrong by a couple of months, that making a false statement by two months where nothing turned on it, since Ms. Lewinsky attained no age of majority; nothing happened in the interim period that made any difference. But let me ask -- so I would think as between misstating by two months the date an affair began, when you've admitted it, and bombing a country -- I don't know, maybe if you bombed the wrong country it would be an allegation you covered up, by mistake.
But my question would be, as a former prosecutor, Ms. Holtzman, would you have a -- would you think anyone would have brought, in the prosecutorial discretion, a perjury case because someone, two and a half years after an event, admitted the event but got it wrong by two months, when nothing turned on that two months?
MS. HOLTZMAN: Well, I would be surprised by such a prosecution. Remember, perjury requires materiality, and that's a jury question --
REP. FRANK: Well I think that's directly relevant, because there was no materiality here --
MS. HOLTZMAN: It's unlikely a jury would make such a decision.
REP. FRANK: -- but this is one of Mr. Starr's three counts of perjury.
Now, by the way, on that subject, my colleague from Arkansas challenged Mr. Craig before and said that the president never admitted to "sexual contact" with Ms. Lewinsky; he used the phrase, "inappropriate intimate contact." And I suppose they might have been having an inappropriately intimate conversation about which country they'd like to bomb together. (Laughter.) But my sense is that almost everybody, except the gentleman from Arkansas, accepted that. And among the people who believe that Mr. Clinton did acknowledge that was Kenneth Starr, because on page 149 of the referral, at point three, he says, "The president made a third false statement to the grand jury about his sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky. He contended that the intimate contact did not begin until 1996. Ms. Lewinsky testified that it began November 15th, '95." In other words, in the very accusation that Mr. Clinton got it wrong by two months, Mr. Starr uses "intimate" and "sexual" interchangeably, and in fact, I think disagrees with the point of the gentleman from Arkansas and acknowledges in this report -- in fact, he charges the president with inaccurately remembering when the sexual contact began.
It would seem to me my colleagues would have to decide here. They cannot impeach in the alternative. You cannot accuse the president of having not acknowledged the relationship, and then impeaching him for having acknowledged it on the wrong day.
Yes, Ms. Holtzman.
MS. HOLTZMAN: Congressman Frank, I think you raise a very critical point, which is, we are talking about impeaching a president of the United States. It doesn't matter if it's William Jefferson Clinton or somebody else. And you cannot trivialize the power of impeachment by talking about removal because we've got a date mistaken by two months --
REP. FRANK: Thank you. Before --
MS. HOLTZMAN: -- or the president says they were intimate as opposed to sexual. That is really --
REP. FRANK: Let me just -- I appreciate that. I --
MS. HOLTZMAN: -- and I think that that's critical. That's what I think my -- (inaudible due to cross-talk) -- to deal with.
REP. FRANK: Let me say I want to get to two other -- I want to get quickly to the two other perjuries.
One of the other two counts of grand jury perjury is that the president, when he said that he believed he said in August -- this is even almost too complicated to state. Mr. Starr said he perjured himself because he said in August that he believed when he did the deposition that oral sex wasn't covered. And they say they knew he was lying. Well, again, how they would prove that, I don't know, what witness they want. And the third one, of course, is the one Mr. Wexler talked about before, what did the president touch and why did he touch it, that's the central count of perjury.
But just in closing, I want to respond also to a comment made by the gentleman from Georgia, who said, well, the president hasn't yet been exonerated on Whitewater. Whitewater has seniority around here. If Whitewater were a member, it would be a subcommittee chairman. (Laughter.) Whitewater has been investigated by three Republican Justice Department appointees -- Jay Stephens, Robert Fiske, Kenneth Starr -- three men who at one point have been Republican Justice
Department appointees. They've been working on it for over five years. They have as yet come up with nothing. I do not doubt by this record that they will never admit an exoneration; but keeping open something which three separate Republican Justice Department former prosecutors have investigated for five years and have been able to bring forward no charge against the president, it seems to me that's an abuse of power, to continue to hold over someone's head something that has been so long investigated to so little purpose.
And I actually yield back, Mr. Chairman.
REP. HYDE: Thank the gentleman.
The gentleman from Florida, Mr. McCollum.
REP. BILL MCCOLLUM (R-FL): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Owens, I believe I'm reading your testimony correctly, and hearing it, that you do not believe anything is impeachable, or should be impeachable, that isn't directly related in some way to the president's power, his official executive authority. Do you think, then, that if the president of the United States went back home on vacation and murdered two of his best friends, having no connection whatsoever to his office in any official capacity, that we should ignore that? Or would we be derelict; should we impeach him for that if we knew he committed murder while he's sitting as president?
MR. OWENS: Given the hypothetical, given your hypothetical -- and it is a far-fetched one, Mr. McCollum -- I would certainly agree that the president of the United States would not be fit to serve. My assumption is that he would be replaced, probably before it had to go to impeachment. But certainly murder is an offense -- in my mind, an impeachable offense, if it's a president or a vice president or a congressman from Florida, certainly.
REP. MCCOLLUM: Let's -- well, let's hypothetically assume that the president of the United States did not commit murder, but that we elect a president someday and find after we've elected him that indeed prior to his election to office he had committed several crimes of fraud in bilking senior citizens out of millions and millions of dollars. Would that be an impeachable offense? That certainly doesn't go to his official conduct.
MR. OWENS: I think these issues are issues of gravity, and I would think that a Judiciary Committee would have to look at that, a group of wise men and women like this one, and make a decision on whether it rose to the level of impeachability. And I think that's a subjective judgment, based on who's before the committee, in its docket.
REP. MCCOLLUM: Ms. Holtzman, I'm sure you're aware, because it was in today's paper, that Henry Ruth wrote an article about Watergate and cited specifically the income tax fraud charge against President Nixon, and cited your vote and Mr. Conyers' as having voted to impeach on that article, although I think perhaps others on this panel voted against it. Yet you've testified today -- I can't imagine that was related to his official duties -- that indeed you think that impeachment needs to be related to the president's official duties. How do you square your vote back in 1974, on President Nixon, on the income tax fraud question, to your testimony today?
MS. HOLTZMAN: I'm sorry I haven't had the pleasure of reading Mr. Ruth's article. I assume it would be a pleasure to read it.
REP. MCCOLLUM: Well, it's in today's Wall Street Journal.
MS. HOLTZMAN: Okay. But in any case, my answer to you is severalfold. One, I went back, because I had remembered the article of impeachment with regard to taxes when this issue of Mr. Clinton came up, and I looked at what I had written at that point in support of that. And in my writing I said that I believe that there was a misuse of the power of his office. My reviews unfortunately don't back that -- don't provide the support -- I didn't write those views, I signed those views. I haven't had time to support --
REP. MCCOLLUM: I understand.
MS. HOLTZMAN: -- find the exact support. But I want to make one other point, sir, and that is that that article also contained a question of the monuments in which the president of the United States, as president, enriched himself with a variety of additions that were made to his homes at taxpayers' expense.
So you did have an abuse of governmental office.
And I want to say a third thing in response to that. That was not the sole ground of impeachment. We had Article I, which had some 32 separate counts of obstruction of justice. You had Article II, which had five or six separate counts.
So I don't know that one would have voted or that I would have voted -- if that were the only ground for the impeachment of the president of the United States, I cannot say that I would have voted for that.
REP. MCCOLLUM: Well, I think what my point about all of the questions I have done just now with this panel is simply to point out the fact that what may be considered to be the official conduct or not is not really the ultimate criteria we should be judging impeachment on, even though with great respect, that's what some of you are advocating.
The fact is that even in this case, the president, if he committed perjury, obstruction of justice, witness tampering and so forth, did something very closely related to his job as the chief law enforcement officer. He set an example, which is something that none of us should want to have out there. And it's very difficult to see how the court system can function and the justice system can function, if the chief executive officer of the nation is permitted to get away with not being impeached, to have that kind of conduct tolerated.
And so I would suggest that it really -- the charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, while he is sitting in office as president, are very integral to his duties as president. So it occurs to me there are -- and also many other charges that are out there -- but saying it is not connected with his office is not in and of itself, a reason not to vote for impeachment.
REP. HYDE: The gentleman's time has expired.
The gentleman from New York, Mr. --
MR. : (In a whisper.) "Schumer."
MR. : -- Schumer.
REP. HYDE: -- Mr. Schumer, the gentleman from New York.
REP. SCHUMER: Thank you, Mr. --
REP. HYDE: I wanted to say "Schuster," and I fought against it very hard --
REP. SCHUMER: Well, thank you --
REP. HYDE: -- Mr. Schumer.
REP. SCHUMER: -- Mr. -- (drags it out) --
REP. HYDE: It's all right. (Laughter.)
REP. SCHUMER: Anyway, I thank the witnesses -- (cross talk) -- all three people I know and particularly my predecessor, Liz Holtzman. I guess starting in January, this will be the first time in a very long time our congressional district is not represented by a member on the House Judiciary Committee; Manny Seller (sp) before you and then me. And I am sorry this is the way we are going out, our district is going out, of the Judiciary Committee.
My first question relates to a question to all three of the witnesses, which relates to a question that I had asked the previous panel, and that is this: I am still sort of -- more than sort of -- I am still very perplexed by the view of some of the more moderate Republicans, I guess none of them on this committee. But a good number of the swing votes have expressed the view that, "Well, if only the president would make a fulsome apology" -- the president believes he has apologized already -- but one, I guess, that's fuller and more direct or whatever, or reiterated again; that then maybe they would vote against impeachment and for a lesser penalty.
And it seems to me that that is a specious standard.
I mean, here we are dealing with impeachment, one of the most serious things this committee, this Congress, can do, and it should be related to the actions of the president and whether they rise to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors, whether they rise to the high level that we have heard so many witnesses talk about, not about either an apology or about whether the president answered the questions to the liking of the members of this committee or to the members of the Congress.
So I would just wonder, each of you having gone through this, having thought about this in a historic sense, do you think, did it ever cross your mind that, say, if Richard Nixon offered a full apology late in the day that you would then -- I mean, should that have influenced your decision as to whether he deserved impeachment? Mr. Owens.
MR. OWENS: If impeachment is a political decision, and it is, my sense is that if Richard Nixon, right up to the point of when the Judiciary Committee undertook its debate at the end of July of 1974, had he gone public and said, "I apologize, I committed serious offenses. I thought I was acting in the public's interest," my sense is the public would probably have forgiven him and the Judiciary Committee would have voted articles of impeachment, but that certainly even if the House passed them that the Senate would not have convicted. When the three smoking guns turned up in which Mr. Nixon was found to have directed the CIA to tell the FBI to back off Watergate within, as I recall, 30 hours of the break-in at Watergate -- until that came out, I think perhaps he might have escaped, because I think the public at that time did not want to impeach even that unpopular president. It's a wrenching decision on the public -- very powerful, very hurtful. And I think Richard Nixon could have turned that around.
REP. SCHUMER: But you're saying what turned the public's -- you're saying what turned people's minds were the actions of the president, not an apology or something like that, is that -- aren't I correct in assuming that?
MR. OWENS: If the president had come clean, I think it would have made a big difference then.
FATHER DRINAN: Well, Senator, I think that the crimes then were so appalling, and as I re-read our report here, it was just unbelievable the things in which they were involved -- with Tony Lasterwitz (sp) and the memory -- it's appalling.
So I don't think that anybody mentioned "censure" at that time and that it was just "proceeding". And furthermore, censure is not in the Constitution, and that the Congress has the one decision to make, impeach or not impeach. People say, well, the Constitution doesn't forbid censure, which is true. And I think that the people would accept censure in this country now if we would get a Christmas present that this would all go away. But I don't think that the concept of censure ever really came up if he could have apologized again. But he never apologized, really. He made more revelations when he was required to do them, but he never said that he was sorry.
MS. HOLTZMAN: Well, senator -- I like the way that sounds --
REP. SCHUMER: Thank you.
MS. HOLTZMAN: -- I think it's very hard to speculate about what would have happened. The fact of the matter is, we had those facts. None of us sought, or I think few of us sought the responsibility of sitting in judgment on the president. It was extremely difficult. It was very sad. It was one of the most difficult tasks, actually, to cast that vote. All of us searched our conscience, and all of us felt that a very high evidence had been met.
Remember, what we were confronted with --
REP. MCCOLLUM: The gentleman's time has expired, unfortunately. And I'd let you answer as much as I can, Ms. Holtzman, but --
MS. HOLTZMAN: Okay.
REP. MCCOLLUM: Mr. Gekas, you're recognized for five minutes.
REP. GEORGE W. GEKAS (R-PA): I thank the chairman.
Congressman Owens, you stated in your recitation of the provisions in the Watergate report or the committee language that what was being considered there was an attack on the system of government, and that's what gave pause to many of you as you deliberated in that era. And so you felt all these offenses that were lined up were attacks on the system of government.
You further stated in answer to some of the hypotheticals posed to you by the gentleman from Florida like fraud and murder and so forth that really that's up to the Judiciary Committee of the time and of the circumstance on what they then have to deliberate to determine the -- whether or not an offense was an attack on the system of government. Am I paraphrasing you fairly correctly?
MR. OWENS: If I had the right to revise and extend, I would have said that I think the 25th amendment would have taken care of his first hypothetical before it ever came to the Judiciary Committee.
REP. MCCOLLUM: Yeah, the murder I'm not --
MR. OWENS: But the decisions on impeachment and the evaluation of the evidence are first given to the House Judiciary Committee.
REP. MCCOLLUM: And if this committee or the majority of this committee felt so strongly that the commission of perjury by the President of the United States, if proved, in front of a grand jury and/or in front of a deposition in front of a federal judge, if we felt so strongly that they were committed and constituted an attack on the system of government in that this was perpetrated in order to destroy the rights of a fellow American citizen who had instituted a legal case against the president in those courts and where a federal judge was sitting, or federal officers in the case of the grand jury, is this not, I say to you, within the realm of our possibility of judging that as an attack on the system of government?
MR. OWENS: If I --
REP. GEKAS: Would you second-guess us on that?
MR. OWENS: If I, as a member of the committee, felt that strongly, and intellectually believed, as you suggest in your hypothetical, then I would vote to impeach.
REP. GEKAS: Thank you.
Ms. Holtzman --
MS. HOLTZMAN: Yes, sir?
REP. GEKAS: -- in your written statement you said that you felt that Mr. Starr overstepped his jurisdiction by arguing for impeachment, arguing for impeachment on this ground or any ground. Are you referring to his referral as being an argument of impeachment?
MS. HOLTZMAN: Yes. I believe, Congressman, that when we wrote that statute -- and I was one of the authors -- we had in mind the experience of what happened during Watergate with Mr. Jaworski, in which we received no brief for impeachment, we received no argument for impeachment. We simply received a factual submission with a -- what's called a "road map" on top of it, and that was it. We had to draw our own conclusions.
REP. GEKAS: I recite from the statute itself; it says that the independent counsel -- in carrying out the independent counsel's responsibility under this chapter, that may constitute grounds for an impeachment. That is that the mandate is for the independent counsel "shall advise the House" and all of these, that may constitute grounds for an impeachment.
So when -- he either has one of two choices: to do nothing, or to report that there's nothing impeachable and, therefore, we close the case; or he refers something that may constitute grounds for an impeachment.
MS. HOLTZMAN: No --
REP. GEKAS: Isn't that following the mandate of the statute?
MS. HOLTZMAN: With all due respect, sir, no.
REP. GEKAS: No?
MS. HOLTZMAN: Because there is a third choice, which is what we had in mind. What we had in mind is what Mr. Jaworski did. What Mr. Starr did was he said "these are 13 grounds for impeachment." That is not what Mr. Jaworski gave us. What Mr. Jaworski gave us were backup documents and factual statements. It was not a -- it was not an argument for impeachment --
REP. GEKAS: Thank you. I have to ask Father Drinan one question.
Father Drinan, in your statement, your written statement, I cannot find the word "vengeance," but I think that you intoned it in your direct testimony, that some of us, or people who are considering the impeachment of the president or considering the articles of impeachment, are driven by vengeance.
Did you mean that? Did you say the word "vengeance," or am I -- did I mishear you, because that's not in your written statement.
FATHER DRINAN: That's not -- no, that term is not in the document.
REP. GEKAS: Pardon me?
FATHER DRINAN: That term is not in the document, no.
REP. GEKAS: You used it, though. You used it in your oral statement.
FATHER DRINAN: Yes.
REP. GEKAS: Do you seriously believe that any member of this committee or any member of the House, in the final judgment that he or she will render on impeachment proceedings or articles of impeachment, will be driven by vengeance?
FATHER DRINAN: I'll leave God to judge that. (Laughter.)
REP. GEKAS: And then maybe God's messengers should not prejudge the God that would make the judgment.
REP. MCCOLLUM: Mr. Gekas, your time has expired.
Mr. Berman, you're recognized for five minutes.
REP. HOWARD BERMAN (D-CA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I thank the former members for their excellent testimony.
I listened to what Mr. McCollum and some of the others on the majority side are saying as to sort of -- which sort of reveals their thinking on this issue of lying under oath. And they seem to be taking the view that, in and of itself, when it involves the president of the United States, it has ripple effects in terms of the system of justice, in terms of the message to the people, that raises it to a level that perhaps is different than in other situations. And tell me what you think of that argument. I mean, this is a very -- this notion of searching for the definition of other high crimes and misdemeanors, I think, is a losing proposition. We come up with the committee did the best job it could back in 1974, and then a hypothetical is thrown out and it doesn't quite fit that definition, but maybe that's a grounds for impeachment. So I'm not sure the effort to define perfectly is going to ever work. But this is their argument; I'd like to hear your thoughts about that argument, about the implications of lying under oath and the extent to which it should be treated in the fashion that they are treating it.
FATHER DRINAN: Well, Congressman, there's a thousand hypotheticals, but we have only one case.
REP. BERMAN: Yes.
FATHER DRINAN: The House Judiciary Committee has never really heard evidence on that one case.
REP. BERMAN: Yes.
FATHER DRINAN: The House Judiciary Committee has never really heard evidence on that one case. The president has never had an opportunity to cross-examine those who said things against him. That's one of my fundamental difficulties and the difficulties to the whole country with this whole proceeding.
We can speculate about the impeachment. All I know is that when the Framers put it into the Constitution, they said and affirmed this should be very rare. This is only for the occasion, as Benjamin Franklin says, when we want to anticipate and prevent assassination.
REP. BERMAN: Well, I don't know if any of you have any thoughts -- I have to say that that argument doesn't do that much for me. Yes, I think questions of burden of proof are important in what's gone forward. There's a ream of grand jury transcripts, and while the process I would have liked would have brought that before us in an orderly fashion, we -- we, the minority, the president's lawyers -- had the opportunity to call those same people and subject them to cross-examination.
My point isn't -- I don't consider this process defective in and of itself because of that. I think the problem -- the question here that I'd like answered is dealing with this issue of statements under oath and the broader context of that and what you would think of as your response.
FATHER DRINAN: I'll defer to my colleagues.
MS. HOLTZMAN: Mr. Berman, if I might just give you history, in terms of an answer to your question, we had two efforts to impeach a president. One was Andrew Johnson, because people didn't like his policy with regard to the Reconstruction, and they picked on one act, the removal of a Cabinet member -- one act. That impeachment went down in history as a scandal.
REP. BERMAN: Yes.
MS. HOLTZMAN: Watergate: The president lied to the American people on numerous occasions. That was not the basis on which we removed him. We had 32 separate counts of -- under obstruction of justice, including offering presidential pardons to burglars. We had several counts under abuse of power, including the misuse of the CIA to get the FBI to stop an investigation, including the use of the IRS to audit people's tax returns improperly, including the creation of a plumbers' unit to break into a psychiatrist's office. You had such a spectrum of abuse and illegality and misconduct that there was no question that this constituted an impeachable offense and the president needed to be removed.
Here you're talking about -- in essence, the theme and variation is the president engaged in sexual misconduct.
He wanted to conceal it. And that is what we are talking about in all of its variations and guises. It certainly doesn't rise to what we saw in Watergate.
And in my remarks to this committee, I urged you to think about how history will look at you. If you act on a single act of misconduct, which does not involve the powers of the presidency, how will history judge you if you try to remove a president of the United States?
REP. HYDE: The gentleman's time has expired.
The gentleman from North Carolina, Mr. Coble. Mr. Coble, will you yield to me briefly?
REP. COBLE: I will indeed.
REP. HYDE: Thank you.
Father Drinan, you made the statement that one flaw with this process is that the White House, the president, hasn't had an opportunity to cross-examine his accusers. Is that correct? Is that your position?
FATHER DRINAN: I object to the use of the grand jury testimony in total. I don't think that's what the Constitution intended. The Constitution gives the sole power of impeachment to the House.
REP. HYDE: Well, let's get back to my question. Do you object to the fact that the president's lawyers haven't had a chance to cross-examine witnesses, their accusers? Is that an objection of yours, yes or no?
FATHER DRINAN: We gave that to Mr. St. Clair in 1974, and I think that should be basic fairness.
REP. : Mr. Chairman, is the lighting system working down there, or are we operating without --
REP. HYDE: Thank you for reminding me of that. I appreciate that.
REP. : Okay.
REP. HYDE: I am going to try a third time: Is it a complaint of yours that the president has not had an opportunity to cross-examine his accusers? Is that one of your complaints?
FATHER DRINAN: I think the people have that right. The people of this country have a right, as well as the accused.
REP. HYDE: Okay. I'll take that as a yes.
What witnesses would the president like to cross-examine, and why haven't the Democrats invited them to be here and testify?
FATHER DRINAN: I can't answer that, Mr. Chairman.
REP. HYDE: I didn't think so.
REP. COBLE: Well, I hope I have better luck than you did, Mr. Chairman.
Let me ask you a question, to the panel. You all may not know this. Do you know how many presidents have been accused of lying to a grand jury while in office, (A)? And (B), how many presidents have been accused of lying to a court of law, under oath, while in office, if you know?
Does anyone know the answer to that? (Pause.) Well, I take it silence indicates that you do not. Let me move along, then.
MR. OWENS: Mr. Coble?
REP. COBLE: Yes, Mr. Owens?
MR. OWENS: I would only point out to you that the lies which President Nixon made were not under oath, but they were material and they were devastating because he was assuring the American people that he was enforcing the law, that investigators were getting to the bottom of the break-in.
REP. COBLE: Well, let me move along, Wayne, because my time --
MR. OWENS: They were not under oath, but they were devastating because of what they dealt with.
REP. COBLE: -- my time is running. The reason I ask you, much has been made about the historical significance and connection to impeachments. And I wanted to get that historical fact in if anyone knew.
Now, many people have compared this crisis to Watergate. There are similarities and there are distinctions. I recall during the days of Watergate those who opposed impeachment simply said, "My gosh, it's only a second-rate burglary. What's the big deal?" Well, it was, indeed, a big deal, because it involved cover-up. It involved obstruction of justice. It involved abuse of power. It involved the use of government employees -- taxpayer-subsidized, by the way, paid by the taxpayers -- to lie, to evade, to deceive. So it extended far beyond a second-rate burglary. Now, nearly a quarter of a century later, we hear people who are opposed to impeachment in this instance, "Well, my gosh, it only involves consentual sex among consenting adults. What's the big deal?" Well, the big deal may be a duplication of Watergate problems: cover-up, evasion, lying, deception, using government employees -- paid for by the taxpayers, I might add again -- to cover up. It may go beyond that. And I resent the fact that some accuse us of vengeance.
I don't mean to speak for anyone, but I suspect very few in the Watergate era who sat on that House Judiciary Committee were gleeful about that exercise. Now, there may have been one or two firebrands. There may be one or two firebrands here today who are gleeful about it. But I daresay that the great majority of Democrats and Republicans alike on this Judiciary Committee are not gleeful at all about this. But I don't think we can afford to dismiss the facts that have been laid at our feet.
The Constitution requires us to respond. And if we vote in favor of impeachment, then we're accused of being partisan firebrands, and I resent it, and I think most Americans will probably resent it.
And I'm getting a little carried away, Mr. Chairman, but I think I need to say this. Many people have made a big point, a salient point about the partisanship of this committee. Well this is an energized, spirited, polarized group, I will admit, and when the television lights are illuminated, that energy seems to intensify. But for the benefit of our viewers, we get along pretty well with one another once those TV lights are extinguished -- pretty good group, pretty good men and women together, I might add. Most folks don't know that because they see the other side of it. But we're going about our business, and if anybody thinks that vengeance is involved, I'll meet them in the parking lot later on tonight. (Laughter.)
I yield my time, Mr. Speaker (sic).
REP. HYDE: (Laughs.) Thank you very much! On that high note --
REP. JACKSON LEE: Peacefully.
REP. HYDE: -- the gentleman from Virginia, Mr. Boucher.
REP. RICK BOUCHER (D-VA): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
I was pleased to note in the statements made by our distinguished former colleagues who are here with us this afternoon, references to the concern that we all should have about members of the House who might apply a lower standard to determining whether or not articles of impeachment should be approved in this matter. Several of our witnesses suggested that members might consider themselves to be a grand jury and apply a standard on the order of probable cause to making that determination.
The committee on which you served, in its 1974 report in the Watergate matter, established a standard that I think is far more appropriate, and the standard that was adopted by your committee on a bipartisan basis would make impeachment available only for conduct that is -- and I'll quote the language -- "seriously incompatible with our constitutional form of government or the performance of the constitutional duties of the presidential office." And that is a standard which I think is much more appropriate for the House of Representatives to employ as well as for the Senate to employ.
It occurs to me that the reason that some members of the House may be considering applying this lesser standard of probable cause is because there has not been a sufficient focus, so far, on the kinds of harms that can occur to the country just by virtue of the House itself voting for articles of impeachment.
And those harms, apparently -- to me, apparently -- would be, first of all, a polarization of the nation way beyond what it is today; secondly, a diversion of the Congress and the president from their basic responsibilities of tending to our urgent needs; a possible immobilization of the Supreme Court while the chief justice presides at a Senate trial; the lowering of the standard for future impeachment inquiries, and there probably is a longer list.
But today is an opportunity for us to begin in a serious manner that dialogue about what these harms really are, and so I want to welcome our former colleagues who have much to say on that subject. You have broached that in your testimony, and I'd like to provide you with the balance of this time to talk, if you're inclined to do so, about what you see those harms being and why the House of Representatives ought to apply the higher standard, well beyond probable cause -- the standard announced by your committee in 1974 -- as we consider whether or not to vote articles of impeachment.
MR. OWENS: I think that the increased polarization -- which, incidentally, already exists. More than two-thirds of the people in every poll I've seen recently do not want this president impeached. The polarization would increase dramatically if the House passes articles of impeachment and sends them to the Senate to be tried. Father Drinan mentioned the slowing down, the stoppage of much of the government, the taking over of the time of the chief justice of the Supreme Court, the terrible feelings and passion that depriving a president of his time in office, which the people have bestowed upon him.
I think it would have a terrible impact on the public. I don't think there's any question about it. Hence, we tried to apply in 1974 the standard for testing of whether we would pass articles, not by the "clear and convincing" that one thinks of as typical evidence for an indictment, but rather "beyond a reasonable doubt," so that the Senate would, in fact, have the evidence on which to convict. And it was clear that Richard Nixon would be convicted by the Senate and removed from office, and only under those circumstances should you put the country to this kind of a test.
REP. BOUCHER: Ms. Holtzman?
MS. HOLTZMAN: I think I addressed that in my argument.
I think all of us felt -- well, I can't speak for everybody, I know I felt that way, I think many of my colleagues felt -- that we had to vote as if we were in the Senate; that we couldn't just simply say, "Look, guys and gals, this is your job, we're just going to hand this ball over to you, hot potato, and you handle it," because we are talking about the United States of America and all of its people, all of the huge tasks that have to be dealt with now, the huge disruption that will take place. The Senate will be tied up. How can we pass legislation to protect Social Security, to improve education or to deal with agricultural problems or the environment? The Senate's going to be sitting there day after day after day hearing testimony about where the president did or did not touch Monica Lewinsky, and what she said about it and what anybody else might have said about it.
REP. HYDE: The gentleman's time has expired.
MS. HOLTZMAN: It seems to me not exactly what we want.
REP. BOUCHER: Thank you, Ms. Holtzman.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. HYDE: You bet.
The gentleman from Texas, Mr. Smith.
REP. LAMAR SMITH (R-TX): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Ms. Holtzman, I would like to point out to a couple of passages in your statement. The first passage is this, and you point out that a trial in the Senate would disrupt the workings in the Senate and it would disrupt the presidency, as well. Certainly to a large extent I'm sure that that's true. You didn't mention an alternative which is pretty obvious, and which has been recommended by over 100 major newspapers, and that's the possibility of resignation.
The other passage I want to refer to, and it sort of follows up a little bit on what Mr. Boucher was discussing, too. You say, "In Watergate when we voted for impeachment, we did so because we believed that President Nixon should be and would be removed from office. We didn't operate on a watered-down standard of evidence. We weren't passing the buck to the Senate, where the real action was and would take place; we voted as if we were in the Senate."
Let me read to you from another expert. She, like all of you- all, was a Democrat. She was a very distinguished member of this Judiciary Committee when you-all served on it. She also happens to be a former member of Congress from Texas, and you all know who I'm talking about, and that's Barbara Jordan. But here's what she said:
"It is wrong, I suggest, it is a misreading of the Constitution for any member here to assert that for a member to vote for an article of impeachment means that that member must be convinced that the president should be removed from office. The Constitution doesn't say that. The powers relating to impeachment are an essential check in the hands of this body, the legislature, against and upon the encroachment of the executive. In establishing the division between the two branches of the legislature, the House and the Senate, assigning to the one the right to accuse, and to the other the right to judge, the framers of this Constitution were very astute. They did not make the accusers and the judges the same person."
That seems to me to directly refute what you said in your statement about the members of the committee voting as if they were in the Senate.
MS. HOLTZMAN: I'm not sure that it necessarily -- your conclusion necessarily follows. I do think that --
REP. SMITH: Okay. Well, I really wasn't asking you a question there.
MS. HOLTZMAN: Okay.
REP. SMITH: I have -- I want to read another passage and then give you a chance to respond to both. I was voicing my opinion that the plain meaning of the root word seems to me to contradict what you had said. But here's another statement by Barbara Jordan in that same delivery:
"Beginning shortly after the Watergate break-in and continuing to the present time, the president engaged in a series of public statements and actions designed to thwart the lawful investigation by government prosecutors. Moreover, the president has made public announcements and assertions bearing on the Watergate case which the evidence will show he knew to be false." She said, "These assertions, false assertions, were impeachable."
Now a couple of follow-ups real quickly:
One, our independent counsel pointed out, I think accurately, that the president over a seven-month period of time had a half a dozen occasions where, if he had chosen to do so, he could have make a crossroads decision. He had a decision whether to continue a pattern of deception or whether to tell the truth. The independent counsel found that he chose, unfortunately, to continue that pattern of deception.
As -- and then let me also read a statement that Mr. Stephanopoulos, who is a senior -- was a senior adviser of the president, said. This is a quote. "This was no impulsive act of passion. It was a coldly calculated political decision. He spoke publicly from the Roosevelt Room. He assembled his Cabinet and staff, and assured them that he was telling the truth. Then he sat back silently and watched his official spokespeople, employees of the U.S. government, mislead the country again and again and again."
Now my final question is this: Don't you think that the president, in Barbara Jordan's words, has engaged in a series of public statements and actions designed to thwart the lawful investigation of government prosecutors?
MS. HOLTZMAN: I think that the president's statements were designed to cover up sexual infidelity, a relationship with Monica Lewinsky, a very embarrassing and wrongful relationship. And --
REP. SMITH: Wasn't he, though, trying to thwart the lawful investigation by government prosecutors?
MS. HOLTZMAN: It depends -- well, as -- I think I answered your question. But I also want to make the point here that if you want to compare this to Watergate, it's a very false comparison --
REP. SMITH: Well --
MS. HOLTZMAN: -- because in Watergate we had not simply false statements --
REP. SMITH: Right.
MS. HOLTZMAN: -- we had false statements about criminal conduct.
REP. SMITH: I very specifically --
MS. HOLTZMAN: Here you have false statements about, or inaccurate statements about sexual infidelity.
REP. SMITH: I'd like to reclaim my time just for a second. What I read that Barbara Jordan said -- Ms. Holtzman, what I read that Barbara Jordan said was very specific, very applicable, and I wish you could respond to it.
REP. HYDE: The gentleman's time has expired.
The gentleman from Virginia, Mr. Scott.
REP. ROBERT C. SCOTT (D-VA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Father Drinan, you were asked about what witnesses ought to be called. We have asked for the list of allegations. We have known that Mr. Starr started off with 10, ended up -- started off with 11, ended up with 10. There have been other variations of the allegations. The scope changes from week to week: Kathleen Willey one week, it's campaign finance another week, it's not campaign finance the next. According to the National Law Journal's hot line quoting ABC's Douglas, quote, "ABC News has learned that the Republicans may accuse the president of different grand jury lies than Kenneth Starr did in his report to Congress." So what's to say they will shy away from Starr's most sexually explicit allegations that Mr. Clinton lied about which parts of Monica Lewinsky's body he touched? Instead, GOP committee lawyers cite new charges.
Now, the gentleman from Arkansas, Mr. Hutchinson, alerted Mr. Craig that there may be some other charges that he might want to look into without a clear definition of what the allegations are. Is it fair to ask which witnesses ought to be called?
FATHER DRINAN: Well, that's -- Mr. Congressman, that's not up to me to decide. I think that many people, maybe the majority, feel that the House Judiciary Committee is on the wrong path, that it has been unfair, it has been erratic. But that's not up to us to decide. All I know is that we were called here today to come and tell about 1974. As I recall, there was no criticism of the committee. At first people said is this necessary? But as the evidence came out, they applauded the committee. And we're here to compare it, and I think that the sense of the public in the country is that something bad has happened in the Judiciary Committee.
REP. SCOTT: And is the -- would you have taken the prosecutor's testimony as evidence?
FATHER DRINAN: No. I think that that's basically wrong. And I agree with Sam Dash, who resigned over this very point. He said that that goes beyond the Constitution, and as Ms. Holtzman said, the statute makes it very clear that he is to give this evidence to this body.
REP. SCOTT: Now, did you presume guilt unless the president came forth with evidence in his defense?
FATHER DRINAN: No. You went to Boston College Law School. You know that's bad law!
REP. SCOTT: (Laughs.)
FATHER DRINAN: No, he -- the president, like all of us, is entitled to the presumption of innocence.
REP. SCOTT: Mr. Owens, can you tell me what proof there was that President Nixon had committed tax fraud? Was there any question about whether or not that allegation was true?
MR. OWENS: I don't think that anybody questioned the back-dating of the deed, which saved him hundreds of thousands of dollars, was supervised by him and probably signed by him after the fact and back- dated. The evidence was overwhelming as to tax fraud and the supplementing of his income by many gratuities by agencies of the federal government. The evidence was very clear, and it's listed, of course, in our report in some detail.
REP. SCOTT: Well, income tax is a crime and it's a very serious crime. Why was it not adopted as an impeachable offense?
MR. OWENS: There was a great deal of disagreement. Father Drinan and I wrote an op ed piece in the Times about a month ago pointing out that we believed, and the majority of the committee believed, basically, I think, because we found it to be personal misconduct as opposed to abuse of presidential powers. I felt, personally, that it did not rise to impeachability; there were civil opportunities to redress. A president can be sued civilly as well as criminally -- prosecuted criminally, of course, while he's president or after. And I thought there were other better remedies; it did not rise to impeachability, in my view.
REP. SCOTT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. HYDE: The gentleman from California, Mr. Gallegly.
REP. ELTON GALLEGLY (R-CA): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
And thank you all, panel, for being here today. As former members, as former Democrat members of this House, I didn't have the honor of serving with you, Father Drinan, or Ms. Holtzman, but I did have the opportunity to serve with Wayne Owen (sic).
Ms. Holtzman, do you agree with Father Drinan and with Wayne Owen (sic) that income tax evasion and perjury are pretty much on the same level?
MS. HOLTZMAN: They may or they may not be. It depends on the circumstances.
REP. GALLEGLY: Okay. One question I have for you, Ms. Holtzman, the records from the Watergate era show that you voted in favor of an article of impeachment dealing with the allegations that President Nixon lied on his personal income tax return.
Does that square with your position on perjury?
MS. HOLTZMAN: I think I was just previously asked that. But if you'd like me to go into again, I'd be happy to do that.
REP. GALLEGLY: Well, that's fine. That's fine.
Prior to January of 1998 -- Mr. Owens, have you ever gone on record publicly as stating that lying before a federal grand jury is not an impeachable offense -- prior to January of 1998?
MR. OWENS: I feel a little like Henry Hyde must feel about his own testimony during Iran-Contra. I could be surprised by something that I may have said in the past. At age 61, I can tell you what the reflection of the last 20 years has brought me to.
REP. GALLEGLY: Do you recall any specific -- wait, I'd love to chat with you after the meeting, but we have a very limited amount of time. (Laughs.) Do you remember --
MR. OWENS: I don't know.
REP. GALLEGLY: -- any specific --
Father Drinan, do you remember prior to 1998 ever taking a formal position that perjury does not reach the level of an impeachable offense?
FATHER DRINAN: I am not certain what the question is, Congressman. Would you put it in --
REP. GALLEGLY: Prior to January of 1998 when this story broke, had you ever taken a position that you remember that perjury did not meet a level consistent with an impeachable offense?
FATHER DRINAN: Well, we didn't have to write about impeachment during those years, and I have no recollection that I talked about perjury as an impeachable offense.
REP. GALLEGLY: Thank you, Father.
MS. HOLTZMAN: Well, perjury may or may not be an impeachable offense.
REP. GALLEGLY: No -- do you remember ever having taken a position prior to January 19 --
REP. HYDE: On false statements, yes, in the Nixon impeachment hearings.
REP. GALLEGLY: Okay.
Wayne, you have stated -- and correct me if I am wrong -- that the president should not be impeached because the underlying lies or perjury by the president are not serious enough to warrant impeachment.
At the same time, we have a long list of persons in federal jails across this country for perjury. In fact, in my own home state of California, last year alone we had 4,000 individuals prosecute for perjury, last year alone. If the president is not impeached, do you think the president should pardon these folks?
MR. OWENS: Elton, using the standard you set here for our communications, my own sense is that you can't trivialize an impeachment of the president by trying to make it comparable to any other offense charged against any other person, and I don't think you can hypothesize and make it similar, as you suggest in your hypothetical. I don't think that I can give you a very good answer to that.
REP. GALLEGLY: Well, I certainly don't mean --
MR. OWENS: This president's offenses, in my view, do not rise to impeachability.
REP. GALLEGLY: Reclaiming my time, I certainly -- it was not my intent to trivialize this; in fact, quite the contrary. You -- in your testimony that the president's lies are not serious because, and I think you said, they involve lying about sex and many have said, well, everybody lies about sex. If this is the case --
MR. OWENS: Oh, that isn't what I meant, Elton. I think they're very serious and should be punished. I don't think it should be capital punishment. I think there are lesser offenses; I think censure is the appropriate -- I join Gerald Ford in that.
REP. GALLEGLY: Well, I think lying about sex is -- I think lying about sex is a very serious -- I think lying, period, if it's under oath --
MR. OWENS: Of course.
REP. GALLEGLY: And I think that that's the real issue before us here. It is not about sex.
MR. OWENS: No, it's very important, and I didn't mean to trivialize that, either, Elton.
REP. GALLEGLY: Because sexual harassment and other cases where someone might perjure themselves is -- the issue here is perjury, lying under oath, it's a basic foundation of our entire judicial system, and I think that that's the issue and we have been getting, I think, a little bit astray here when we try to bring sex as the issue here. I firmly believe the cornerstone of our whole judicial system is predicated on telling the truth and I certainly would be the last one to trivialize lying.
Mr. Chairman, I --
MR. OWENS: I hope the House of Representatives, if I may say in response to that, Mr. Gallegly, I hope the House of Representatives will not miss its opportunity to censure and condemn this president's actions. I think it's highly unlikely that a Senate would ever convict a president based on an article you send over. If you send it over to see whether they will or not, I think you create a great constitutional conundrum.
REP. GALLEGLY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. HYDE: Thank you. The gentleman from North Carolina, Mr. Watt.
REP. MELVIN WATT (D-NC): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I thank these witnesses for being here. I don't profess to be a great student of the Nixon impeachment process and this has been very educational to me to see some of the inner workings. One thing in particular that I'm struck by is we have this public perception that the Nixon impeachment vote was a very bipartisan vote, and I guess by the standards under which we are operating today, it was a very bipartisan vote in the committee.
But notwithstanding the overwhelming number of charges and the magnitude of what I think everybody recognizes now was going on, apparently there were still people who were not convinced that the Nixon offenses rose to the level of impeachable offenses -- am I correct in that? -- on the committee.
MR. OWENS: There were 10 members of the House Judiciary Committee, including the current majority leader of the other body, who did not vote for any of the three articles of impeachment which passed. But as I recall the chronology, something like six days after we passed and completed our activities here, the president's -- the three smoking guns, these three recordings, were released in which the president, among other, proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he had instructed the CIA to instruct the FBI to get out of Watergate and so forth, directly contradicting direct testimony that he had given. Then even Trent Lott and his nine colleagues on the Judiciary Committee abandoned the president. Barry Goldwater and John Rhodes and Hugh Scott went down to the White House, said, "Mr. President, it's over, you'll be removed from office, you'll lose your pension and every perk of a former president, the jig is up, it is time to leave." And the president, former president, at that point had the dignity to accept their judgment. But right up to the smoking guns, there was a significant portion of the members of the House and of the committee who did not accept that the offenses reached impeachability level.
REP. WATT: And were all 10 of those members Republican members of the committee?
MR. OWENS: Yes, they were. Yes. Yes, sir. You had 21 Democrats and seven Republicans who voted for impeachment before the smoking guns.
REP. WATT: I guess I raise that because my colleague, Mr. Scott, and I had an interesting discussion one day when the proceedings were going on. I leaned over to him and I said to Mr. Scott, "What if President Clinton were a Republican president, do you think we would be taking the same position?"
How did you rise above the -- how did your committee rise above the partisanship? I mean, how --
MR. OWENS: It was not easy.
REP. WATT: Can you talk to me a little bit about how -- I mean, because one of the things that I've been really troubled about is that this process has become so partisan and viewed by the public as being so partisan, that I think even that has colored the public's perception of even the credibility of the arguments on the other side. Could you --
MR. OWENS: It was an exceedingly painful decision, for me especially. I was running for the Senate in the most Republican state in the nation; a Democrat, where Richard Nixon had gotten 72 percent of the vote two years earlier, and I was confident that that would be a serious political problem for me. And the only refuge, Mr. Congressman, is in what is your realistic view of what the evidence requires. Given the serious constitutional obligations that are imposed upon the committee, you just have to say, "Consequences be damned. I will do what my conscience tells me what I have to do under the circumstances." It was a very heavy responsibility, and I, honest to God, had no second thoughts about voting for impeachment.
REP. HYDE: The gentleman's time has expired.
The gentleman from Florida, Mr. Canady.
REP. CHARLES CANADY (R-FL): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I want to thank the members of this panel for being here. Your perspective on these issues is very important to us. Father Drinan, welcome back. We appreciated your earlier testimony to the subcommittee.
I want to address the issue about the tax fraud article that has been discussed at some length here, and begin by quoting Charles Black, who in his handbook on impeachment wrote, "A large-scale tax cheat is not a viable chief magistrate." That's on page 42, if you have the book here. Now, I think I understand Ms. Holtzman has kind of nuanced view about that; it would depend on the circumstances.
But if I understand Father Drinan and Mr. Owens correctly, it's your -- your position is to disagree with Charles Black. Is that correct? And please give a short answer, given the limited time.
FATHER DRINAN: What precisely did Professor Black say again on this?
REP. CANADY: Pardon?
FATHER DRINAN: What precisely did Professor Black say?
REP. CANADY: What I just read. Quote, "a large-scale tax cheat is not a viable chief magistrate." Do you disagree with that view?
MR. OWENS: Yes, sir, I do. Absolutely. I --
REP. CANADY: Okay. Father Drinan?
FATHER DRINAN: I'll concur with Mr. Owens.
REP. CANADY: Okay. So you both disagree. Well, that's --
MR. OWENS: We wrote an article in the New York Times, so we have to agree with each other. (Laughter.)
REP. CANADY: Okay. Well, that's consistent with what you've been saying today.
But now, Mr. Owens, let me ask you a question. Were you the only person named Owens on the committee during the time of the Nixon impeachment?
MR. OWENS: Yes, sir. I hope I'm going to not regret making that admission.
REP. CANADY: Well, because I'm looking at the transcript of the debate of the tax article, with respect to President Nixon. And I'd like to read your closing remarks in the debate to the committee. You said, "And so we are here having to decide this issue without having any hard evidence will sustain -- that will sustain tying the president to the fraudulent deed, or which will support, in my opinion, the inference and close the inferential gap that has to be closed in order to charge the president."
You then go on to conclude, "I urge my colleagues to -- based on that lack of evidence, I urge my colleagues to reject this article."
Now, Mr. Owens, I candidly will have to say to you I don't think that what you said here is consistent with what you've been saying today.
MR. OWENS: I think, under the rules of the House, you can do that, Mr. Congressman.
REP. CANADY: Well, I think the facts speak for themselves. And I've read the whole debate, and it's my judgment that, although there were clearly some members who believed that tax fraud by the president was not an impeachable offense, the majority -- the vast majority of the members of the committee who expressed an opinion on that subject said that they were either for the article, as Ms. Holtzman was, or they felt that there was insufficient evidence of fraud by President Nixon to proceed, as you said in your comments. And so I find it a little disturbing that you would come before this committee today and to make an assertion that is contrary to your own statement in the debate.
Now, let me just say that I think that Charles Black was right. A large-scale tax cheat is not a viable chief magistrate. I agree with that.
MR. OWENS: So you would have voted to impeach President Nixon?
REP. CANADY: If there had been adequate evidence. There's a evidentiary question there which I think has to be settled as a separate matter, just as there's an evidentiary question before this committee. We've got to make certain that we have an adequate basis for the conclusions we reach with respect to the allegations of perjury and obstruction of justice. But I also say that just as a large-scale tax cheat is not a viable chief executive, I believe that a large-scale perjurer is not a viable chief executive.
Furthermore, I believe that the evidence before the committee points to the conclusion that the President of the United States has committed multiple acts of making false statements under oath. And that's a serious matter that we're having to grapple with here. I hope everyone understands we're not enjoying grappling with this. But the facts cry out. We have to deal with this. We cannot turn away from it simply because it may be politically not expedient to deal with it, because the system of justice in this country is affected by what we do here today and what we will do as these proceedings move forward.
Again, I thank all of you for being here. I yield back the balance of my time.
REP. HYDE: The gentle lady from California, Ms. Lofgren.
REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): I'd like to thank the panel for being here and sharing your experiences and recollection. I remember also back there in 1974, and at that time I had just finished my first year of law school, and I was working for Congressman Don Edwards and looking up at all of you sitting where I am sitting here today, never dreaming that I would be here in these circumstances. And I remember watching you, and -- as you all struggled on both sides of the aisle to cope with what faced you and the really grave subversions that you faced that you've recited today that were presented by the situation of then-President Nixon. And I remember in the '73 report the discussion of the abuse of power that would be necessary to meet the standard for "other high crimes and misdemeanors." And I don't have it in front of me, but it's something to the effect that it would be
As you can see today, the standard has changed, and I accept that people have legitimate good-faith beliefs that a false statement alone is sufficient to impeach. I just don't think that is the historical standard.
And as I think about what we are doing here today, I think our constituency is not just today's voters. But I think about it -- and my children are 13 and 16 -- the constituency for what we do today will be my children's grandchildren, because what we need to do is to make sure that we nurture and protect our system of government. This is the best country in the world with the best system of government. And we need to make sure that we do not impair our wonderful constitutional system.
And what concerns me is that what we are doing now may have an impact on our system of government. Do I really think we have been phenomenally successful, in some ways because we have an executive who serves for a four-year term? And if you don't like the guy, you know that in four years he is out. And that allows the president to deal successfully with other countries.
And what I am wondering -- and maybe, Father Drinan, you could answer this -- if we are going to have this type of situation, where we will have the election; now with the Jones case as precedent, where you can sue a sitting president, where you may have a litigation phase after the election, and then we will have an impeachment phase following the litigation phase, I am worried or concerned about what kind of stature and certainty the president will have in the future if we have got that kind of scenario instead of the certainty of four- year terms? And what will the implications be for the economy of this nation? Do you have thoughts on that?
FATHER DRINAN: I think the implications are horrendous.
And you are quite right that if we weaken the independence of the presidency -- who knows? -- the next president may want to change the rules on Cuba. And they say, "We'll indict you for that or impeach you for that," and he has been intimidated.
And all history shows that the presidency was severely weakened for 30 or 40 years after the attempted impeachment of Andrew Johnson. This has never happened in 220 years. I think that we should look at that.
Furthermore, and I think the underlying thing is that the president is being charged, not with anything that relates to public policy or to the political function of the government, but for something personal in which he has apologized for his misstatements.
REP. LOFGREN: You know, going one step further, I note that in all likelihood, the vote that we will take in this committee will be on partisan lines, which was different than '74.
Many Americans already believe that this is -- I'm not making this allegation, but I've had constituents say that this is a Republican coup d'etat for the Republicans to take out the Democratic president they could not defeat.
Whether you agree with that or not, should we be concerned that in the future impeachment will be used as a partisan tool?
FATHER DRINAN: Well that's the great danger. Now, what I keep wondering, why the arguments that the Republican majority use, why haven't they persuaded any Democrats, why haven't they changed public opinion? There's something very fundamental in American psyche that we don't want this process. And that I tried to be -- I tried to listen; what is their argument? And that the people are very troubled. And to repeat what I said before, I think there's going to be a big popular uprising against this process.
REP. LOFGREN: I'd just close and say usually the American people get it right.
I yield back.
REP. HYDE: The gentleman from South Carolina, Mr. Inglis.
REP. BOB INGLIS (R-SC): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I'm glad that Mr. Craig is still here with us, Mr. Chairman, because it's very important to note his testimony earlier in the day that -- and I will quote -- "Let me assure" -- this is, again, the special counsel to the president -- "Let me assure the members of this committee, the members of the House of Representatives, and the American public of one thing, in the course of our presentation today and tomorrow we will address the factual" -- and "factual" is underlined -- "and evidentiary issues directly."
Ms. Holtzman, do you have any facts or evidence relating to this case involving the president?
MS. HOLTZMAN: What does that question mean?
REP. INGLIS: Do you have any facts relating to the president's -- the things which he is accused of here today? Obviously not, right?
MS. HOLTZMAN: No, I think you --
REP. INGLIS: Father Drinan --
MS. HOLTZMAN: No, that's not my answer, sir. That may be your answer to your question. It's certainly not my answer to your question.
REP. INGLIS: What facts then do you have?
MS. HOLTZMAN: If you let me answer it I'll be happy to --
REP. INGLIS: Go right ahead and tell me what facts you have.
MS. HOLTZMAN: Well, one fact is the perspective of Watergate, the historical fact, and what that means and how you place impeachment in the historical context. The other fact is the questions that were raised with respect to how the public will deal -- will view the Congress --
REP. INGLIS: Right, reclaiming my time --
MS. HOLTZMAN: -- in light of --
REP. INGLIS: -- reclaiming my time. You have no evidentiary matters to present --
MS. HOLTZMAN: Interrupting, okay.
REP. INGLIS: -- then either, do you? How about you, Father Drinan, do you have any evidentiary matters to present?
REV. DRINAN: You want new facts or reflections on old facts?
REP. INGLIS: I want to know -- generally you know in a legal case there are things called facts and evidence, and then there's a law. It seems to me what you're arguing here is the law, is it not?
REV. DRINAN: We came, sir, to explain what we tried to do in 1974.
REP. INGLIS: And that's precedent, correct, Father Drinan?
REV. DRINAN: On what?
REP. INGLIS: That's precedent, which generally is law, is that correct?
REV. DRINAN: I think so.
REP. INGLIS: Yes. So, Mr. Owens, do you have any facts or evidence to present in this case?
MR. OWENS: That is our approach today is to interpret for you what happened in 1974. It's full of facts. The contrast between what that president did and what this one did is of course where we are supposed to --
REP. INGLIS: But you would agree that that's --
MR. OWENS: -- spend our time.
REP. INGLIS: -- that's precedent which is in the nature of law, rather than facts or evidence --
MR. OWENS: We are here to explain what happened and to interpret it as best we can, that's correct.
REP. INGLIS: Right. But I'm not -- I'm just trying to point out -- and I don't know why Ms. Holtzman because so defensive about this. I'm just trying to point out the great inconsistency in Mr. Craig's statement earlier today that he -- this is not your fault -- it is certainly not the faults of these three people before us -- it's just that earlier today the special counsel to the president of the United States said that today before this committee and tomorrow --
MR. OWENS: Excuse me, Mr. Congressman, did he say that no witnesses --
REP. INGLIS: -- we're going to hear facts and evidence.
MR. OWENS: -- would interpret old historical precedents for the committee?
REP. INGLIS: The point I'm interested in making is this is panel two, Mr. Craig. We have yet to hear any facts or any evidence. There is nothing new here. In fact, we have already heard from Father Drinan once before. There is nothing new. So the great high bar Mr. Craig earlier set for himself and for the president that this day and tomorrow is going to be the day that we hear evidence and facts that contradict the evidence before the committee -- panel two, the score: zero facts, zero evidence. Now, there are more panels to come. But I look forward to throughout the rest of the day and tomorrow keeping track every time about whether we've got any new facts or any new evidence. Again, I think it's very helpful, but we've heard it all before -- very helpful, and I appreciate your time. But it is not what Mr. Craig said he was going to deliver to this committee --
REV. DRINAN: You're -- (inaudible) -- us. I mean, what do you mean by facts? We have been giving facts here since we started.
REP. INGLIS: The facts, sir --
REV. DRINAN: You want new facts about the so-called scandal. What do you want?
REP. INGLIS: Well, that's what I'm interested in finding out. I want to know if there are any facts and evidence in this case that would tend to make us conclude that the president in fact did not lie to the American people as he said he did.
REV. DRINAN: Well, the White House gave you 185 pages of their case.
REP. INGLIS: Well, we're looking forward to it. The point is --
MR. OWENS: Mr. Congressman, in dealing with facts -- if I may say, you taught seven-year-olds in this country what telephone sex is and oral sex and what you can do with a cigar, and you had no facts. I think it's the interpretation of the facts --
REP. INGLIS: Okay.
MR. OWENS: -- may I respectively say which is required by this committee.
REP. INGLIS: Reclaiming my time. Then you disagree with the special counsel of the president. Mr. Craig says that he wants to present facts and evidence today and tomorrow. Apparently you all are on a different sheet of music, because that's not what you're doing. You're doing a very helpful thing, which is presenting the law, and precedents.
MS. HOLTZMAN: Excuse me, Mr. Congressman --
REP. INGLIS: Not facts. Facts would be evidence in this case.
REP. HYDE: The gentleman's time has expired. The gentle lady from Texas, Ms. Jackson Lee.
REP. JACKSON LEE: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Let me make my continuing objection to the shortness of the time of which the president has been given to make his case. Let me for the record note that Mr. St. Clair, in addition to bringing an enormous number of witnesses, participated as I understand with the 17 days executive and non-executive sessions, Mr. St. Clair being the lawyer for Mr. Nixon, had the ability to examine and cross-examine witnesses. So I raise the concern that many of the esteemed and distinguished members of this panel have not been able to fully answer our questions.
Let me thank the panel most of all for being here and for providing us if not a complete understanding of the Watergate proceedings, at least a sufficient bird's eye view that would warrant us to question the process that we are engaged in at this time.
One of our past presidents said that one man with courage makes a majority. And so I too want to offer this day and the next day to those members of this body, this House, maybe this committee, who are thinking seriously about where we are. And might I draw the committee to a dissenting view in the Iran-contra that was signed on by seven Republicans. And the words are this: "The president himself has already taken the hard step of acknowledging his mistakes and reacting precisely to correct what went wrong," they said. "There was no constitutional crisis, no systematic disrespect for the rule of law, no grand conspiracy, and no administration-wide dishonesty or coverup. Dissenting Republicans," signed by Mr. Hyde and representative Bill McCollum of this committee in the Iran-contra affair.
Let me cite for the members here -- and as I cite these facts for you would you also give us sort of an insight if you will as to what went on in your committee short of those things that you are not able to discuss, because maybe they were in executive session, in bringing out the fullness of the case, because over and over again I hear my dear colleagues, my Republican colleagues, "Where are the fact witnesses?" And it is my understanding that you were able to bring fact witnesses, and subsequently, as Father Drinan said, there was a smoking gun of the tape talking about Mr. Nixon asking the CIA then to stop the FBI from investigating Watergate.
But listen to this: Would you believe that alleged conversations to a staff person, Ms. Currie, about her recollections as to his whereabouts in the office or out of the office at a time when she was not a witness to anything, or not a witness called for any proceeding, would be obstruction of justice? One question.
In the referral by Mr. Starr, these words: "Finally the president made a third false statement to the grand jury about his sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky. He contended that the intimate contact did not begin until 1996. Ms. Lewinsky testified that it began on November 15th, 1995." Conclusion of the Starr report: "For all of these reasons there is substantial and credible evidence that the president lied to the grand jury about his sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky." Can you tell me whether or not we have a constitutional crisis? Can you tell me whether or not you had and others has -- Meaning Mr. St. Clair -- or the opportunity to judge the credibility of witnesses inside of the proceedings that you were able to deal with? And can you tell me whether or not in this instance Mr. Clinton has as well acknowledged that he has misled the American people, and we could, if you will, not so much as a grand jury, but in that structure determine not to proceed because we have found no reasonable basis upon which to impeach the president of the United States of America? Because we, though not in essence a grand jury, are the movers of this action and can decide that because of the frivolousness of it we should not proceed. I know that the questions will have to be -- or the answers will have to be brief. Ms. Holtzman? I'd appreciate it. Thank you very much.
MS. HOLTZMAN: Well, our process was never started by a grand inquisitor. It was started when the American people demanded that the House act after the Saturday night massacre. We had substantial actual evidence, including tapes of the president, when John Dean and the president disagreed about what happened, we did not start an impeachment inquiry. There was insufficient evidence. And I am concerned -- I think that you've raised that -- that the actual determination of who is telling the truth, Monica Lewinsky or the president, will be made without a basis of hearing from the actual witnesses.
I also do think that the facts of what happened in the past -- and history is fact, it is not law, it is fact -- is important in the determination of what this committee should do. We are not in a constitutional crisis now. The question is: Will this committee and the House generate one for the country.
REP. HYDE: The gentle lady's time has expired.
REP. JACKSON LEE: Thank you, chairman.
REP. HYDE: The gentleman from Virginia, Mr. Goodlatte.
REP. GOODLATTE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'd like to thank these former members of Congress for their participation today. They have been through what the members of this committee are going through now, and must understand how arduous a task this is, how unpleasant a task this is. So I take exception to some of the suggestions of the political motivations of the members of this committee. I once worked for a Republican member of this committee who served on the Watergate Judiciary Committee, former Congressman Caldwell Butler. He was one of those seven Republicans who voted for the articles of impeachment, and I think it takes great courage and great integrity to vote out articles of impeachment against a president of your own party. I don't know what the vote will be in the final result in this committee, or on the floor of the House. But I believe that members on both sides of the aisle will try to show courage and integrity and act in that fashion.
But I am very concerned about the motivation of the White House today in attempting to raise the bar and attempting to try to describe the standards that we are applying here as being somehow different than the standards applied in the Watergate hearings. Congressman Canady I think has very correctly pointed out that there were many, including Congressman Holtzman, the only remaining member of the committee who still serves today, Congressman Conyers, who voted out an article of impeachment against President Nixon under circumstances in which he made a false oath on his tax return. So I think that that's an unfair standard.
I think the effort to try to impose upon the committee the burden of beyond a reasonable doubt, the final standard of proof in a criminal proceeding, on this committee is also incorrect. There is no evidence that the Watergate committee used such a standard. In fact, as Congressman Smith pointed out, Congressman Barbara Jordan explicitly rejected that standard.
Some even set a much lower bar. Let me read you this quote: "We are seeking what some people have described as whether there is probable cause. And I do not think it really reaches that. I have not found anything in the literature that says the House is looking even for probable cause. We are trying to find out whether there are enough matters in the articles we draw up that would warrant a trial that would resolve the questions." That was said by Congressman Conyers, the ranking minority member during the Watergate proceedings. I think that's too low a standard, quite frankly. I think clear and convincing evidence is an appropriate standard for this committee to look at this evidence.
But this effort to suggest that this committee is politically motivated in our efforts is contradicted by this effort on the part of the White House and the White House's witnesses to suggest that there is somehow a different standard being applied here, when in point of fact the evidence is quite to the contrary.
It's been suggested, Congresswoman Holtzman -- I think you suggested it -- this is simply merely lying about an embarrassing personal situation, attempting to cover that up. But before the federal grand jury, Ms. Holtzman, the president's statements that I think clearly indicate false statements, unless some evidence is brought forward by the president to rebut them, they clearly were not for the purpose of covering up an embarrassment, because minutes after the president made those statements under oath before the grand jury he went before the American people and acknowledged doing some embarrassing personally indiscrete things. And before the depositions in the civil lawsuit seven months earlier the president clearly was not making those allegedly false statements for the purpose of covering up personal indiscretions, because in the same deposition the president acknowledged other personal indiscretions, with Gennifer Flowers and so on.
So I think the purpose of the president in both instances was something other than to cover up personal indiscretion. I think the purpose of the president was to defeat the lawsuit, the sexual harassment lawsuit, to obstruct justice in that case, to coach witnesses and to bring forth a false affidavit from another individual. And those I think are very serious charges, very similar to the charges that the Watergate committee considered regarding
President Nixon and his tax return. And I think upholding the rule of law and standing up for honesty and truth in our judicial system is a very, very serious matter that the American people are very concerned about.
And I would finally point out that you can't look at polls to determine the final outcome.
REP. HYDE: The gentleman's time has expired.
The gentle lady from California, Ms. Waters.
REP. WATERS: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and members of the committee. I thank our witnesses for being here today, our former members. I am trying to hold onto the belief that most members of this Judiciary Committee are wrestling with their conscience on questions of perjury and obstruction of justice. I have long since decided that I cannot in good conscience, and with the sense of integrity and fairness support the impeachment of President Clinton based on the allegations in this inquiry.
We've had some discussion on the question of perjury. Some on this committee have held onto an argument that perjury for the purpose of prosecution is and should be considered as a simple statement of less than pure fact or detail. This is a holier-than-thou attitude that allows no room for misstatement, no room for inability to clearly and concisely recollect, no room for taking advantage of legal definitions crafted by legal minds that may not comport with lay definition, no room for nuances or gradations.
Mr. Chairman, I am going to say this -- I hate to -- but your statements and your actions during these hearings place you at the head of the class in the category of strictest and purest interpretation of perjury. You have waxed eloquently about the rule of law, a zero tolerance view of lying. You have said no exception can be made for lying to cover up an embarrassing sexual affair.
You said, "For my friends who think perjury, lying and deceit are in some circumstances acceptable and undeserving of punishment, I respectfully disagree."
You further said that "Truth is not trivial playing by the rules. We are fighting for the rule of law. I think it is our constitutional duty under the law to pursue impeachment." You said, "I'm frightened for the rule of law, and I don't want that torn down or diminished."
Mr. Chairman, you are the leader and the chairman of this powerful committee. Many members of your party are following your lead, taking your advice and looking to your experience and integrity to guide their decision. Mr. Chairman, a few days ago I read a column written by Mr. David G. Savage (sp) in my hometown paper, the Los Angeles Times, and I was simply taken back by what I read.
Mr. Savage did a little research on you, your statements and your actions. Mr. Savage opens his article with the following line, quoting you. And I quote: "He mocked the sanctity of all who sermonize about how terrible lying is. 'Granted, lies were told,' he said, 'but it hardly makes sense to label every untruth and every deception an outrage.' He also condemned the disconcerting and distasteful whiff of moralism and institutional self-righteousness that led Congress to conduct hearings on the deceptions coming from the White House and he denounced the results as a witch hunt."
Mr. Chairman, this columnist was talking about you, you who led the defense of the Reagan administration during the Iran-contra hearings. This columnist's research also shows you in direct and absolute contrast to your belief about what was not a lie in 1987, as opposed to what is a lie in 1998.
Mr. Chairman, what are we to think about these contrasts as we review what you said then and about understanding the nuances of lies and your zero-tolerance stance today? What must your colleagues in the Republican conference, who are wrestling with history, legal definitions and consciousness, think about the possibility that your statements today are in deep conflict with your 1987 statements?
To tell you the truth, I'm a little disappointed. Never in my wildest imagination did I think that you would have such conflict in views about perjury and lying. You have done a 360-degree turn on your deep philosophical beliefs about how lying should be placed in proper context and nuances.
Mr. Chairman, I don't want you to default on your good name and leadership. History will not be kind to you and the stark contradictions of your leadership. It would surely be a sad commentary on your long years of service to be recorded as one who led the selective impeachment of the president of the United States, not based on a consistent philosophical belief but rather on a petty partisan need to satisfy the need to retaliate, embarrass or feed the insatiable appetites of a group of hate-mongering, right-wing anarchists --
REP. HYDE: I ask unanimous consent the gentle lady be permitted to finish her attack on me.
REP. WATERS: -- who will stop at nothing to destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton. (Laughter/applause.) Thank you. I appreciate that. Mr. Chairman, you sent 81 questions to the president. Based on Mr. Savage's article and his accusations about you, I'm going to send you some questions. You don't have to answer them. And if you're going to allow me all of this precious time, I will start to raise these questions now.
REP. HYDE: Oh, please don't abuse the privilege. (Laughter.) Ms. Waters, you've finished your prepared statement, haven't you?
REP. WATERS: Well, I really haven't, because it includes the questions that I would like to send you.
REP. : Regular order, Mr. Chairman.
REP. HYDE: Well, I'm sorry. I'll have to tell you that your time has elapsed.
REP. WATERS: Oh, gee.
REP. HYDE: We'll continue this in private.
REP. WATERS: Thank you. (Applause.)
REP. HYDE: I now yield myself five minutes to respond to the gentle lady. In a way, I'm glad you brought that up, because I read that article in the Los Angeles Times. And I went back to my library and I dug out the report of the Iran-contra hearings back in '87, and I wrote a special dissenting report, and I re-read it. And if I do say so myself, it's real literature. I will get a copy and have you read the whole thing rather than a few excerpted sentences.
Now, it is true, at that time I was on the Intelligence Committee. And when I had a more nuanced view about misleading people, at no time did I sanction perjury. At no time did I sanction Ollie North or Poindexter lying under oath. I objected, and I made my objections known. But what I tried to explain -- and I said context is everything, and I stand by that -- clandestine operations to get hostages out of Iran required secrecy and occasionally withholding information that others wanted.
Trying to save Central America from a Castro takeover required some clandestine operations, and they required sometimes withholding information. That happened. And it takes a little understanding that people's lives and resources are at stake. And while the Democrats did not agree, they preferred no money going to the contras, whom they portrayed as thugs, and the Sandinistas, with Mr. Ortega and Mr. Castro seemed to fit in well with them. But that was a great controversy back in 1987. But you cannot find any place or any time where I condoned or justified perjury or raising your hand and asking God to witness to the truth of what you're saying and then lying.
REP. WATERS: Will the gentleman yield?
REP. HYDE: No, I will not.
REP. WATERS: Because I want to take you to something that is in contradiction to what you just said.
REP. HYDE: Now, you've had your turn, Ms. Waters, and this isn't going to be the Maxine-Henry show.
REP. WATERS: Too bad about that. I'd like that.
REP. HYDE: But I just want the record to show that my opposition to perjury and lying under oath has been constant and is as strong today as it was then. But as long as I'm using my five minutes, I want to ask my friend, Father Drinan, a question. This may categorize me as a member of the religious right. And I will tell you now, I've not been to any meetings lately in anybody's basement, so I'm not a part of the conspiracy. But what's the significance of asking God to witness to the truth of what you're saying? Does that add a little heft to the undertaking of promising to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?
FATHER DRINAN: No. Mr. Chairman, that was -- (inaudible). Everybody knows that they have a very solemn duty. And if this Saturday the votes comes out 21-16 to impeach, and if the Republicans put intensive pressure upon their own people, and if impeachment is passed by seven votes, as is now predicted, I think that we all -- (inaudible) -- say, "What are the motives for this?" That's what I meant.
REP. HYDE: Well, let's get back to my question. What about the rule of law? What does the chief law enforcement officer, when he raises his hand in a lawsuit, swears to tell the truth and then doesn't, then lies, does that erode, diminish, depreciate the rule of law, which protects you and me?
FATHER DRINAN: I suppose the answer is yes. But that's not the right question. The question is --
REP. HYDE: Well, if I got the right answer -- I'll do the questions; you do the answers. I yield back my time. I thank you, Father.
FATHER DRINAN: You people have to make the big answer. Is that up to the level of impeachability, so that we'll distract and disturb the country and erode the independence of the White House?
REP. HYDE: It is inconvenient. I'll grant you that. It would be inconvenient to have an impeachment; no question. The question is, how inconvenient is it to have the rule of law eroded, corroded, diminished, lessened, cheapened? That's the other side of that coin.
FATHER DRINAN: That's your assumption, sir, that all of that is going to happen.
REP. HYDE: That is my assumption.
FATHER DRINAN: My assumption is that further grave things might happen. We have to weigh.
REP. HYDE: That's right, exactly right. And everyone has to, in the end, answer to their conscience. Absolutely right. Now, we can get back to normality. Mr. Meehan is next. Mr. Meehan.
REP. MARTY MEEHAN (D-MA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'm glad all of you are here today, because you, among all witnesses, have appeared before us and bring, I think, an important historical perspective to the table. What I'd like to do is read to you some of the portions of the Nixon tapes, essentially to take you back to the days where you sat in judgment of a prior president, and then ask you how the facts before us compare with those that you grappled with. And many of us have heard a lot of conversations about what happened in the Nixon era and the Watergate era, so I think it's important to go back and compare.
Let me start with a June 17th, 1971 conversation between President Nixon and H.R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman and Henry Kissinger. Haldeman tells Nixon that there's a file at the Brookings Institute on Lyndon Johnson's implementation of a bombing halt in the Vietnam War. Nixon responds, quote, "God damn it, get it. And get those files. Blow the safe and get it."
On June 30th, 1971, in a conversation with the same individuals and Ron Ziegler and Melvin Laird, Nixon elaborates on his plans with respect to the Brookings Institute. Quote: "They have a lot of material. I want Brookings. I just want them to get it, to break in and take it out. Do you understand?" End quote.
On September 18th, President Nixon and John Ehrlichman had a conversation in which they discussed using the IRS to harass Senator Edmund Muskie, Senator Edward M. Kennedy and their supporters. Nixon says the following. Quote: "John, but we have the power. But are we using it to investigate contributors to Hubert Humphrey, contributors to Muskie?" He goes on, quote, "Are we going after their tax returns? Do you know what I mean?" Haldeman: "No, we haven't." Nixon: "Hubert. Hubert's been in a lot of money deals." Haldeman: "Yes, he has." Nixon: "Teddy. Who knows about the Kennedys? Shouldn't they be investigated?"
September 10th, 1971. President Nixon approves Ehrlichman's proposal for a break-in of the National Archives to get secret Vietnam papers of former President Johnson's aides. Ehrlichman, quote: "There's a lot of hanky-panky with secret documents. And on the eve of the publication of the Pentagon Papers, those guys made a deposit into the National Archives under an agreement of a whole lot of papers. Now I'm going to steal those documents out of the National Archives." End quote. Nixon, quote: "You can do that, you know." End quote.
Finally, on June 23rd, 1972, the infamous smoking gun conversation occurred. In that conversation, President Nixon and Haldeman conspire to call in the CIA director, Richard Helms, and direct him to tell the acting FBI director, Patrick Gray, that the FBI's investigation of the Watergate break-in interfered with CIA operations. Here's Haldeman laying out the plan for getting Helms to call off the FBI investigation. Haldeman: "They say the only way to do this is from White House instructions, and it's got to be Helms and what's-his-name -- Walters." Nixon: "Walters." Haldeman, quote: "And the proposal would be that Ehrlichman and I call him," meaning CIA Director Helms. Nixon, quote: "All right, fine." End quote.
Ms. Holtzman, Father Drinan, Mr. Owens, we've heard attempts to compare President Clinton's conduct in this case with that of President Nixon. Indeed, we've seen the independent counsel strive to mirror the language of the Nixon impeachment articles in his referral, throwing out terms like obstruction of justice, abuse of power, despite the lack of evidentiary support for either allegation. To set the record straight, isn't it fair to say that President Clinton's conduct doesn't even hold a candle to President Nixon and what he did?
MR. OWENS: There's no question that it does not. I listened as he instructed John Dean on how to lie to the grand jury. I heard the tape. I heard the president's own voice. I couldn't believe it. "Just tell them you don't remember, John. They can't indict you if you don't remember," and told him to get $120,000, by God, that day and pay it to Mr. Hunt because he was going to blow by nightfall. I couldn't believe what I was hearing.
REP. MEEHAN: (Inaudible) -- I believe it was. Wasn't it cash?
MR. OWENS: Cash. There's nothing like that in this evidence here. There's nothing that touches on the moral or the illegality of the level of evidence that you had with Richard Nixon.
We had no choice but to impeach. This committee has no choice but to --
REP. MEEHAN: Father Drinan?
REP. SENSENBRENNER: The gentleman's time has expired.
MR. OWEN: -- but to release the president -- to vote down this article, pardon me.
REP. SENSENBRENNER: The gentleman's time has expired.
The gentleman from Indiana, Mr. Buyer.
REP. STEVE BUYER (R-IN): I thank all of you for coming today. You know, one thing that is a lot different is we don't have a John Dean. You had someone on the inside that came forward. We don't have someone, a Sidney Blumenthal or someone else who comes forward and says, "You know, enough's enough, I can't take it any more down at the White House, and I want to tell you all about the conversations." We don't have the benefit of the taped conversations as they put together their defenses and their schemes and their plans. We don't have all of that. We have the transcripts from the grand jury testimony. So there are some differences. And I have great respect for what you went through because we've gone through only half of it. Your proceeding was nine months, and this has been four.
I do have a couple of questions. Father Drinan, you piqued my interest earlier when you brought up the word "vengeance." Why do you think in our society we think it's so important that when we give someone an oath, we ask them to either swear or affirm to God, and we also, in many courtrooms across America, we ask someone to place their left hand on a Bible? Father, why do you think we do that in our society?
FATHER DRINAN: It goes way back and for centuries is very sacred. But I don't think that you can invoke the oath and say that -- immediately that someone who may have violated it is impeachable when he's the president. You're asking the right thing. Sir, we all agree on this. And don't make us say that, well, we're going to minimize the oath. We're not doing that. We took the oath today. I teach legal ethics at Georgetown. We solemnize all of this. But that's not the question. The question is, if this individual, for a private matter not related to government process, is he impeachable because of that question.
REP. BUYER: Well, let me ask another question of you, Father Drinan. Tell me what is the difference between vengeance and accountability under the legal system. What's the difference between those two?
FATHER DRINAN: Vengeance is only a -- it's a legal term only sometimes. We don't make vengeance a crime. And I used that term because I, like the whole nation, find it unfathomable that the whole Republican establishment says this is an impeachable offense and the rest of the country don't get it.
REP. BUYER: But, Father Drinan, I find it almost unfathomable that there are some of my own Democrat colleagues, though, that somehow believe or feel that if the president lied before a grand jury that that was wrong but it's not impeachable. And then I have to watch, even in these proceedings, how the president's own counsel and as they work with the minority counsel, I mean there's coordination here between minority -- the minority side and the president's defense. Let's be above board here. Let's not hide anything.
I would ask unanimous consent that an article that was in the Wall Street Journal on November 30th, 1998 -- it's a declaration concerning religion, ethics and crisis in the Clinton presidency signed by 132 religious scholars -- be placed in the record.
REP. SENSENBRUNNER: Without objection.
REP. BUYER: It starts by saying, "As scholars interested in religion in public life, we protest the manipulation of religion and the debasing of the moral language in the discussion about presidential responsibility. We believe that serious misunderstandings of repentance and forgiveness are being exploited for political advantage." It's a very -- and then they lay out six points, and I think it's very good, and I invite my colleagues to read that.
I was very concerned, Father Drinan, for you to come in here and to challenge the motives of this committee. I suppose that, as you said on the impeachment, the three of you, there were people that would challenge your motives and did at the time. But I --
FATHER DRINAN: If I may say, though, I don't recall anything like that in the House Judiciary Committee in 1974. We had the highest esteem for each other, and I had high esteem for Caldwell (sp) Butler, who agonized over this and eventually voted for it.
REP. BUYER: But Father Drinan, you're the first individual that I know that's ever challenged -- and I'll take it personally here, because you said it to all of us -- that we're driven by vengeance. And that's why I asked you the specific question about the difference between accountability in our legal system and vengeance. It gets -- it's very important. So I'm very disappointed that the president's defense would send witnesses to this committee that would say we're driven by vengeance, that we're zealots and fanatics and cowards.
FATHER DRINAN: I didn't say fanatics or cowards.
REP. BUYER: You did not, but the -- a witness from the previous panel --
FATHER DRINAN: Don't make me accountable for what other people said.
REP. BUYER: I am not making you accountable, Father Drinan. I'll make you accountable for the vengeance statement
REP. SENSENBRUNNER: The gentleman's time has expired.
REP. BUYER: -- and you'll be accountable also to the Lord.
REP. SENSENBRENNER: The gentleman from Massachusetts Mr. Delahunt.
REP. BILL DELAHUNT (D-MA): Yes.
Thank you, Father Drinan -- welcome -- my former teacher at Boston College Law School.
You are all Democrats. I think it's important to point out to you and to the American people that a former colleague of yours Charles Wiggins, who is presently serving on the Court of Appeals in the 9th Circuit, agrees with you. And he is a Republican. And I am going to quote from testimony that Charles Wiggins gave to this committee a short time ago, back on December 1st.
And I am quoting: "I am presently of the opinion that the misconduct immediately occurring by the president is not of the gravity to remove him from office." And I think that goes to much of what you have all said today in terms of the gravity of the conduct, even if it is presumed to be accurate.
He goes on to state on page 141: "I find it very troubling that the Judiciary Committee seems to be willing to impeach the president. I find that there is not any necessity that the president knew his acts were impeachable, that he was obstructing justice or abusing power at the time he did that." So I think it's very important that you understand you are here, in a bipartisan sense, with Judge Wiggin(s).
You know, he also stated -- and you just stated rather eloquently, Mr. Owens -- that -- and again, I am quoting him: "We heard testimony from Haldeman, we heard testimony from Erlichman, and we heard testimony from John Dean." You just referred to that -- listening to that particular tape. It was the smoking gun.
It is my position that we have a process here. And I think process is important because it's the process, not the names of the principal players, whether they be William Clinton, Ken Starr, Monica Lewinsky or Linda Tripp, that will serve as a precedent for the rest of our history.
And I am really concerned that we have not heard direct evidence. And I am particularly disturbed when I hear from others that suggest that somehow the burden of proof, to rebut what can only be described as "triple and quadruple hearsay," is on the president of the United States.
We heard earlier from Mr. Craig, when he said much of what Monica Lewinsky said was erroneous. He did not accuse her of lying or testifying falsely; he said "erroneous." I dare say it is the responsibility of this committee -- of this committee -- to hear from the principal witnesses, to make those critical determinations in terms of memory, in terms of credibility, and in terms of evidence. And I would welcome your comments, Ms. Holtzman.
MS. HOLTZMAN: Well, I think you're absolutely correct. You know, the question was, what standard should be applied? We actually had evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. We had the tapes of the president of the United States himself. There was no question of the level of evidence. We heard witnesses, direct witnesses. We heard tapes, and I think it's critical to do that --
REP. DELAHUNT: Reclaiming my time for one minute, I think it's very important that you know and the American people know that we have heard direct testimony in deposition from only two witnesses. And I think it is absolutely wrong for this body and for this institution to abdicate its responsibility under the Constitution to an independent prosecutor that -- and merely serve as a conduit for so-called evidence while it goes to the United States Senate for a trial, which, I think we can all agree, will be traumatizing this nation and creating great instability within the body politic.
I yield back.
REP. SENSENBRENNER: The gentleman's time has expired.
The gentleman from Tennessee, Mr. Bryant.
REP. ED BRYANT (R-TN): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I too thank the panel, a couple of you for your second -- for, I guess, the rerun here.
I'm reminded by my colleague's statement -- from Massachusetts -- of my years in trial, when the other side often argued that there's no proof here today on this point, when they too had the subpoena power and the ability as such to call in that proof if they really, really wanted that proof there. And one would have to assume that by providing some 30 hours -- if you look at eight-hour workdays, almost four complete days of work hours before this panel, that if one really wanted that type of proof, if they wanted confrontation with these witnesses, and if they wanted to cross-examine these witnesses, and they were so, so dissatisfied with the process, that one would think they might issue a subpoena and call some of these witnesses in.
On another subject -- there are many issues here, and I want to touch on just a couple of them -- I've heard today argued that public conduct -- or private conduct is not a grounds for impeachment. I see the hypocrisy in the White House of spending so much money and time and legal effort in asserting the White House presidential privilege, which we all know covers official conduct.
So if we're talking private conduct only, why are we litigating in court official conduct and the executive privilege issue?
Now, this panel seems to be saying that unless you've got the Richard Nixon case you can't impeach anybody. We have 32 counts and one article of impeachment in that case. That sounds to me like if you've got a bank robber out there that robbed 32 banks and then you get a second bank robber who only robbed four, that you can't charge that person with bank robbery. Everybody from here on's got to rob 32 banks before they can be charged. I suspect when it all settles in this case will fall in between the Andrew Johnson impeachment and the President Nixon impeachment. And it's for this panel to vote their conscience and decide where within that spectrum and if, indeed, there are sufficient articles of impeachment.
One final argument. I might say that woe be to this country if we go through this process: another government shut-down. I've heard that term used today. But let me tell you, this is important work that we're doing today, and we're doing it not because we started it, but because it's the president's own conduct that began this. And back in 1974 when you folks were sitting in these seats, your Democrat chairman of this committee faced similar circumstances in terms of the troubles that this country had been through at that point and probably a sentiment in America that just didn't want to do this. And in his opening statement in the Congressional Record, Mr. Rodino eloquently states that we know that the real security of this nation lies in the integrity of its institutions and the informed confidence of its people. We will conduct their deliberations in that spirit.
It has been said that our country, troubled by too many crises in recent years, is too tired to consider this one. In the first year of the republic Thomas Paine wrote "Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must like men undergo the fatigue of supporting it." For almost 200 years Americans have undergone the stress of preserving their freedom and the Constitution that protects it. It is now our turn.
And with that, I yield back the balance of my time.
REP. SENSENBRENNER: The gentleman's time has expired.
The gentleman from Florida, Mr. Wexler.
REP. ROBERT WEXLER (D-FL): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Father Drinan, I think as you described earlier, you were asked to come today to tell us what happened during Watergate. And for those of us that don't really remember Watergate, it was chilling for me to hear Congressman Meehan repeat verbatim President Nixon's language. And I think at least for some of us that don't recall the actual testimony because we were too young or otherwise and then have it compared to the president's alleged behavior is very dramatic.
Mr. Owens had an opportunity, I think, to answer a question earlier. I'd like to give you an opportunity. Describe in your words what was the abuse of power, the abuse of office by President Nixon, and compare that, if you would, in an objective fashion, which I know you can, to the alleged abuse of power or abuse of office by President Clinton.
FATHER DRINAN: Well thank you for the question. I think the documentation exists here. This, along with other books, indicate the extent of the upgrading or the downgrading of government. It's just unbelievable. And that's the whole point, that we sat here and listened to it. It was almost unbelievable. I remember sitting right over here with the microphones listening to President Nixon telling his attorney general, "You're not going to appeal that ITT case. Understand this, you're not going to appeal that." And then they lied about that afterwards, "Oh, we never got any instruction." And there's nothing compared to -- I mean, now, I mean, all these things, whatever you call them. This was an eruption of corruption in the White House for which the framers intended impeachment, and the nation recognized that.
Mr. Rodino presided majestically, and the whole nation was impressed. The other day, Mr. Rodino said there are no impeachable offenses in anything that's he's seen of these events.
So that we're glad to be here to give an opportunity, but that it becomes more unbelievable every day that the -- the possibility that the Congress -- the House could go forward and impeach this person. I mean, what are they looking at? Where are the documents? And so it's just unbelievable.
REP. WEXLER: I want Ms. Holtzman to respond.
MS. HOLTZMAN: Mr. Wexler, just -- I mentioned in my testimony, but it bears repeating, one of the claims of abuse of power was that the president had to be subpoenaed, did not voluntarily appear before a grand jury. He ultimately appeared. What is the abuse of power?
Secondly, that the other claim, that he invoked special privilege so that the special prosecutor would have to be put to his proof in court, once the court ruled, he turned over the information. Where is the abuse of power here?
I mean, when we talk about the Nixon impeachment and the abuse of power; when the president uses his office to get the FBI to stop a --
I mean the CIA to stop an FBI investigation, or gets the IRS to audit his political enemies, that is an abuse of power that threatens the people of this country and the operation of government.
We don't see that here. And I think that the members of this committee have to -- obviously have to search their conscience, but this process will be judged by how bipartisan it is and how much the public is willing to put up with a huge disruption because of the level of presidential misconduct. I don't think we see that and the public is not prepared to see that level of disruption take place.
REP. WEXLER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Or Mr. Owens, if you --
MR. OWENS: If you permit, I'm about to say something that will probably put me on a hotter seat than Father Drinan had, but when you talk of abuse of power, I wonder about the powers of this committee and the leadership of the House, which will not permit you, as I understand, to vote on censure, which insists on impeachment or nothing. This president should be condemned for his actions. He did lie to a grand jury, in my view. And to say to the members of the House, you cannot censure him, you either have to impeach him up or down, when many members on the hot place do not believe he should be impeached, apparently, at least as two have expressed it to me, two Republicans, and yet they have no choice, either they impeach or they turn him free, I think that's bordering on an abuse of power.
REP. WEXLER: Thank you.
REP. SENSENBRENNER: The gentleman's time has expired.
The gentleman from Ohio, Mr. Chabot.
REP. STEVE CHABOT (R-OH): Thank you.
Ms. Holtzman, let me go back to your testimony here this morning. You stated, "Nearly a quarter of a century ago, I never imagined in my lifetime we would see another impeachment. I'm saddened to be here today." And I an assure you that we're all very saddened to be here today, but we're here because of the conduct and the seeming inability to tell the truth of only one person, and that's William Jefferson Clinton.
Let me go back to a statement that you made in the Nixon impeachment era, back in 1974. You stated at that time that the president of this country ought to set a standard of strict, scrupulous obedience to the law. Do you still feel that way? Do you still feel that the president of the United States should set a standard of strict obedience to the law, that the president should be honest?
MS. HOLTZMAN: Of course I believe the same thing.
The question is, what happens when the president is not? What is the punishment? And that's really the question you have to grapple with.
And if -- even if in your conscience you feel impeachment is warranted, if you don't have bipartisan support, and if the public won't accept it, are you going to put this country through a terrible disruption? For what? Try to find the common ground. That's what we -- that was what distinguished us in Watergate.
REP. CHABOT: Thank you.
MS. HOLTZMAN: We drew up the articles of impeachment with the Republicans. It wasn't a single effort.
REP. CHABOT: Let me move to Father Drinan now, because our time is relatively brief, as you know. Censure, Father, has come up several times here in this committee today. Let me address censure for just a moment here.
You had testified previously in this committee, and you stated back on November 9th, when you appeared before us at that time, and I'll quote, "A vote to censure a president by one or both bodies of Congress would establish a dangerous precedent."
I agree with you, I might say. I'm concerned that censure could lead to using a censure against a president for political purposes. For example, I strongly disagree with President Clinton's veto of the partial-birth abortion ban. Despite my strong opposition to that, however, I don't think that we should punish him for what was essentially a political act on his part.
Do you continue to believe that censure by either this committee or the House is not the appropriate course for us to take?
FATHER DRINAN: Well, that's up to the Congress itself. But that -- I think many people would say, "I'm not certain impeachment and I will vote for censure." People do feel strongly about presidential misconduct, and the president realizes that.
The consequences, however, still worry me -- that this will intimidate future presidents, that they will censure him shortly before elections for political reasons and not for reasons that might be impeachable.
REP. CHABOT: So your feeling is that censure is probably not the course that we ought to take?
FATHER DRINAN: Well, it's up to people who are wiser than I to say what is the appropriate --
REP. CHABOT: Right. Thank you, Father.
Congressman Owens, let me go to you at this point. And I'm going to quote from a statement attributed to you back in 1974, again, in the Nixon impeachment proceedings. And you stated at that time that "impeachable conduct need not be conduct prohibited by criminal statute, although it must be clearly offensive -- that is, known to be wrong by the person who commits it at the time it was committed. It could be a substantial abuse of power, blatantly unethical conduct, or a flagrant violation of constitutional duties."
Doesn't the president of the United States have the constitutional duty, when he raises his hand and swears to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God, to tell the truth?
MR. OWENS: Obviously, he does, and I regret that he didn't. My concern here -- I disagree, obviously, with Father Drinan on censure. I disagree with Barbara Jordan as she's quoted to us. Good heavens, I even disagree with Congressman Owens as he's quoted with us. (Quiet laughter.) I'm now 24 years older and at least 10 years more mature.
But I think -- I think it's very important that the punishment fit the crime, here. And I'm just trying to say to the committee, the offense does not rise to impeachability. The president was like a deer caught in the headlights of a car -- his marriage all of a sudden was in danger, his presidency was in danger by his own sexual infidelity. I understand --
REP. CHABOT: And he also had a private citizen -- excuse me, my time's almost out.
MR. OWENS: I understand how he got caught in that mess and I think he ought to be censured for having done the wrong thing, but it does not rise --
REP. CHABOT: And he also had a private citizen, right? Paula Jones --
MR. OWENS: -- anywhere to the nature of impeachability that Richard Nixon, whom we're here to contrast today for you -- the actions of that president did. That's the point I'm trying to make.
REP. SENSENBRUNNER: The gentleman's time is expired. The gentleman from New Jersey, Mr. Rothman.
REP. ROTHMAN: Thank you Mr. Chairman. I think -- I was just about to make this statement, but Congressman Owens made it for me, but I'll repeat it, because it's the appropriate issue for us. What is the appropriate punishment for the president's wrongful conduct? What is the appropriate punishment for the president's wrongful conduct?
Now, we all want to uphold the rule of law for ourselves, our children and our judicial system. But we have civil courts and criminal courts and we have President Clinton already liable to be sued civilly and criminally for any action that he has taken. So the rule of law will apply to this president, and as my friend from California said, this is about a civil procedure. Of course it is. And if the president was deemed to have done something wrong in the civil deposition, the civil judge, upon discovering that, had the right to sanction him, punish him, and thus uphold the rule of law.
So the rule of law already applies to the president. We're talking about whether the punishment, the nuclear bomb punishment, the death penalty punishment of impeachment is necessary or appropriate for the president's wrongful conduct.
Now, this doesn't get to the question of whether those seeking the president's impeachment have presented a scintilla of factual evidence to justify or to meet a burden of clear and convincing evidence. They haven't presented a single fact witness. But that's for another day. Hopefully they will come to their senses and meet that clear and convincing standard of proof requirement.
But my friend from -- I think it's Indiana, Mr. Buyer, was saying, "Well, we have to, when you raise you hand, to tell the truth. That's so important." Of course it's important. And anyone who violates that can be sued civilly and criminally. But is the violation of that oath per se treason, bribery, or other high crime and misdemeanor so that we need to add the punishment of impeachment and removal to the punishment the president can already sustain -- civil punishment and criminal punishment -- knowing, of course, that the punishment of impeachment and removal is not just a punishment or will not just have an effect on President Clinton? It will have an effect on the entire country, and perhaps the world.
So that's the standard. No one has the right to draw to themselves the mantle of the protector of the rule of law and say unless we punish the president for -- if you believe he lied under oath and say, as most scholars do, lying under oath is different than perjury, which is lying with specific intent and has a material effect. But even if you believe lying under oath is wrong and rises to the level of impeachment, ask yourself, is that what the Founders had in mind by treason, bribery, and high crimes and misdemeanors, and say is that an appropriate punishment that fits the offense, the wrongful conduct of President Clinton? That's what we have to decide. I hope my colleagues will bear that in mind.
And again, on the issue of whether or not any factual evidence has been brought before us by those seeking the president's impeachment, I daresay not yet. And that disturbs me greatly, because I believe that American notion of fairness, due process puts the burden of proof on the accuser -- puts the burden of proof on the accuser -- to prove by clear and convincing evidence someone's guilt, gives the accused the right to demand the accuser meet that burden before the accused says anything, if at all.
It's not up to the accused to prove his or her innocence. And that's the American way; that's our rule of law in America. I hope we'll get to that some time before this inquiry is completed.
Thank you. I yield back.
REP. SENSENBRENNER: The gentleman's time has expired.
The gentleman from Georgia, Mr. Barr.
REP. BARR: I'd like to yield 30 seconds to the gentleman from Ohio, Mr. Chabot.
REP. CHABOT: I thank the gentleman for yielding.
In the previous testimony here, it was assumed that the president lied to protect his wife and his daughter, et cetera. But I think it's just as likely that he lied in order to defeat a fellow citizen's lawsuit against him, a sexual-harassments lawsuit, which was a very significant lawsuit.
And I yield back. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
REP. BARR: Thank you.
You all are here today in support of the president, in defense of the president, and I understand that. And that's certainly very appropriate.
You all are not here to present new evidence in terms of rebutting evidence, evidence that might rebut the specific charges against the president, but rather to present your opinions or evidence, as you may call them, of your view of impeachment, as Father Drinan said, to contrast the procedures in Watergate; your view of the standard that was used then, as opposed to the standard that either is or should be used here. And that's fine. That's part of the process here.
What I find somewhat disturbing, though, is the effort by many of the defenders of the president to really mischaracterize -- in their zeal to defend the president and rewrite history -- to mischaracterize prior proceedings and put them in a light that really -- on careful examination of the actual historical record -- really is not quite fair.
For example, we have heard from the president's defenders how awful it is that there is not sufficient time for the president's lawyers to engage in whatever it is that they want to engage in, a thorough and sifting cross-examination perhaps, or what not. And we constantly hear, particularly from the oh-so-eloquent ranking member of this committee, how fair the proceedings were in Watergate, as contrasted to the awful unfair proceedings currently.
Yet in fact, according to many of those involved in your very proceedings back in 1973 and '74 -- for example, Gerry Ziefmann (sp), a life-long Democrat, the chief counsel from '73 to '74 of the committee -- there was a tremendous battle in your committee, particularly among the staff and among the chairmen.
And in fact, one Hillary Rodham, who we have heard mentioned in other proceedings in which we have been engaged as one of the authors of the impeachment research document that many of us refer to, as part of the paper that was put together by the Watergate impeachment staff -- that stands for the proposition that the impeachment is indeed a political process, that it is not so necessary to show violation of criminal laws and so forth for impeachment to lie.
According to Mr. Ziefmann (sp), Hillary Rodham wrote a memorandum arguing that President Nixon should be denied representation by counsel. And as a matter of fact, in many of the proceedings, Mr. James St. Clair, who basically was Mr. Craig's predecessor, special counsel of the president, was not allowed to participate.
Also, we have heard a great deal about the lack of evidence, as opposed to -- or in addition to the material that Judge Starr sent us, as if this is somehow also at diametric odds with the great open, thorough and sifting search for the truth in the Watergate proceedings. As a matter of fact, again drawing on, not my research, but the research of those involved, such as Mr. Ziefmann (sp), it's very clear, as he documents, that in fact on the morning of May 9th, 1974, at the beginning of the so-called Watergate hearings by the committee on which you all served, they consisted of nothing more in open session than the chairman gaveling them to order and then going into executive session for many days, at which time new evidence was not received. There was none received. It was simply a rehashing and a reading of the evidence that had been developed by other sources such as the Ervin committee, and that really formed the basis for you- all's deliberations.
And I am not arguing with that. But what I am arguing against -- I want to set the record straight -- is that all of this sanctimonious references to how open the proceeding was back in 1973 and '74, as contrasted with the proceedings that we are moving through nowadays, based in large part on the very voluminous work of Judge Starr, and in which case we have given certainly a great deal of time to the president's lawyers -- not what they would like, but a great deal of time -- is somehow much less worthy of the work of this committee and the Congress. And in reality, the procedures were very, very much the same.
I appreciate the chair.
REP. SENSENBRENNER: The gentleman's time has expired.
MR. OWENS: Mr. Chairman? Mr Chairman, over here?
REP. SENSENBRENNER: The gentleman's time has expired.
MR. OWENS: Thank you. I just wondered if I might -- if an old has-been can rise to a point of personal privilege? Mr. Canady quoted me out of context, and I have now got the correction. And I think it would be one-minute reading, if I might be permitted to correct the testimony he gave?
REP. SENSENBRENNER: I'll be happy to indulge the witness in a one-minute reading.
MR. OWENS: I am now in agreement with myself. (Laughter.)
REP. SENSENBRENNER: Well then, you ought to set the record straight. (Laughter.)
MR. OWENS: Is the gentleman permitted the chair?
REP. SENSENBRENNER: Yes.
MR. OWENS: Thank you very much.
Page 549 of the hearings. I don't know the date. The gentleman's former boss, my good friend Caldwell Butler, yielded me two minutes.
"I believe Mr. Nixon did knowingly underpay his taxes," I said, "in the four years in question, by taking unauthorized deductions, and that he knowingly ordered or caused to be ordered improvements on his properties in Florida and California at government expense. These are offenses against the people, and I think the government should pursue its remedies.
"But you don't impeach for eery offense, nor, on the other hand, do you excuse any offense by saying others did it. But whether to impeach or not is a question of judgment permitted each of the members. Is it sufficient? Is it that serious? And on the evidence available, these offenses do not rise, in my opinion, to the level of impeachability. It is not sufficient to the standards I set. I promised the people of Utah, when I sat down to impeachment, that I would impeach only if there were hard evidence and which was sufficient to support conviction in the Senate. And I found it in four instances, and I do not find it in this sixth, to which I feel I must apply the same remedy."
I thank the chair.
REP. SENSENBRENNER: Thank you --
REP. CANADY: Mr. Chairman, if -- I ask unanimous consent to respond to the questioning of my --
REP. SENSENBRENNER: Well, you know, the chair will state that you can ask somebody else who's recognized for time. But if we start this kind of a debate, we're going to be here till 4:00 in the morning, rather than midnight.
My colleague from Wisconsin, Mr. Barrett, is recognized.
REP. THOMAS BARRETT (D-WI): Thank you, Mr. Sensenbrenner.
Mr. Owens, I was the person who handed that to you --
MR. OWENS: Thank you very much.
REP. BARRETT: -- and the reason I did was earlier today I joined in with Mr. Pease, because I felt it was wrong for committee members to castigate members of the committee and to question their motives. I think that this standard applies to us as well, and I think it's wrong for us to take words out of context and apply them to the witnesses. And that is exactly what was done to you. And I felt that once you did read your entire statement from 24 years ago, that you would agree with yourself. (Laughter.) And I'm glad that you could --
MR. OWENS: I thank the gentleman. That's a very nice courtesy to an old has-been. Thank you very much.
REP. BARRETT: When this proceeding started three months ago or four months ago, the chairman indicated that he felt by the end that it would be bipartisan. I think he couldn't conceive that we would vote out articles of impeachment -- I don't know if he was referring to the House or to the committee -- on a strictly partisan basis. All indications, of course, are now, five days from now or two days from now, that we will do exactly that.
And I've had many constituents who have come to me and said, "There's something wrong here. Aren't there any Republicans that agree with Democrats, or aren't there any Democrats that agree with Republicans?" And they're right. There's something wrong here, because we've been hearing that this would be a vote of conscience, and it defies logic even for the most partisans to think that there's not one person on either side of the aisle that's buying the arguments.
And I think that part of the problem is that we haven't tried in any way to work on a bipartisan basis in open committee. Some of us have tried behind the scenes to see if we could move this along. And I'm of the firm belief, as I've said many, many times, that the president was wrong in his actions, that he should be held accountable. But I also think that it has to be done in a bipartisan way. And we are not anywhere close to doing that.
So I'm looking to you three for guidance. Since the committee did work in a bipartisan way, give us some tips as to how we can bring this to closure, because again, as I have stated, for the sake of the American people we have to get this resolved, and we have to get it resolved in a manner that at least a majority of the American people feel is fair.
So I'll ask you, Ms. Holtzman, if there's any advice that you have. And I realize you're all Democrats, and I should be asking the same of some Republicans. But I think this committee needs some counselling. And I'm asking you to provide that. (Laughter.)
MS. HOLTZMAN: (Laughs.) I don't have a therapist hat to put on. But -- and I don't want to presume to give you that counsel. But I must say that I am troubled by what I hear, for example, with regard to the issue of evidence.
On this side I've heard some Republican members say "Well, if they want to hear it, let them call the witnesses." It didn't work that way. We had a Republican -- we had two Republican counsels, actually. And they worked together, the committee worked together in calling the witnesses, in trying to reach that common ground. And if people don't search for the common ground they're not going to find it. But the American people will never accept verdict of impeachment unless it reflects the common ground. And I think you just have to keep trying. And I would hope the chair would lead that effort. Mr. Rodino was the one who made sure that the articles were not drafted before we had bipartisan input, not what happened here where you had the Republican counsel listing 15 charges which reflected perhaps the view of the majority, but not the views of the minority. Maybe there's some way that people can say "Let's stop and see where there is a common ground for the good of the country and reputation of this committee and the Congress."
REP. BARRETT: Father Drinan?
FATHER DRINAN: Well, I agree with you that something is, as you know, is wrong. What is the wrong? We were called here today to say that this has not -- this group has not followed what we did in 1974, and that -- I don't know if we're going to change any minds. And a friend asked me this morning "Do you think that anybody would change their minds?" And I said I always think that people can be rational and reasonable, and we can hope for that.
But something is wrong, in your terms, when -- if this vote comes out 21 to 16.
MR. OWENS: Mr. Barrett, it seems like to me that bipartisanship would return if the House leadership and committee leadership would permit an alternative vote on censure. I say to the committee, why can't you have a range of punishments here? I think bipartisanship would return if you would allow -- if this committee would allow a vote on censure as well as a vote on impeachment. They need a full range of bipartisan responses to deal with the president's transgressions.
REP. BARRETT: Let me cut you off there. And I would agree with you, and I know in this committee it's not going to happen. But again, on the full floor, I think it would be a huge injustice to this nation if we don't have a vote on censure, because we've been told time and time again that this is a vote of conscience; and to deny that vote on the full House floor would be to deny people to vote their conscience.
And I yield back my time.
REP. SENSENBRENNER: The gentleman's time is expired.
The gentleman from Tennessee, Mr. Jenkins.
REP. BILL JENKINS (R-TN): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And let me say thank you to those of you on this panel. It may be that it will be difficult to recruit members for this committee in the future when they find that you may have to come back and testify on such matters at some distant point down the road.
But let me say thanks to all of you, and especially, Mr. Owens, to you. You've demonstrated a great deal of understanding before this committee. I think you understand, and I'm sure the others do, too, but you have expressed it more clearly, that none of us relish this responsibility that we have had thrust upon us. It's a little bit like when I was in the Army, I went, reported to basic training through the ROTC program. I had dreams of becoming a gentleman and an officer. And I remember one morning at 4:00 -- we were still pulling KP in the Army then, and they got me up, and the first job they assigned to me was cleaning out the grease trap. And it leaves an indelible impression on your mind. And this is not the most pleasant task that I've ever been assigned to.
But I wanted to ask you -- I think you covered part of this in your statement, but would you agree that giving false testimony under oath to a material matter in either a civil lawsuit or a criminal matter or before a grand jury constitutes perjury? Would you agree that that constitutes perjury?
MR. OWENS: As I understand the definition, it seems to fit the classic mode.
REP. JENKINS: All right. And I believe you agreed that perjury at least can be an impeachable offense.
MR. OWENS: That's correct.
REP. JENKINS: Well then I would go --
MR. OWENS: But could I ask you a question in return? Why the committee won't let a full range of punishments come before the committee? Because if there is perjury, it ought to be punished.
REP. JENKINS: Well, let's talk about -- let's talk about -- you're talking about punishments? All right, let's talk about punishments a minute.
The Constitution says, as I read it, that in the event that anybody is accused, and in the event they're convicted, then the remedy is removal from office, plus one additional remedy of perhaps being foreclosed from holding public office in the future. Is that not, in your mind, an impediment to a remedy of censure either in the House of Representatives or even in the Senate?
MR. OWENS: Not in the least, Mr. Congressman. There is precedent. Andrew Jackson was censured. You can introduce any resolution you want. You can do anything that you can get by the parliamentarian here. There's no question in my mind that's totally constitutional, and here's it's very practical; it would solve a very real problem.
REP. JENKINS: So that doesn't give you any problem that that remedy is not provided for in the Constitution?
MR. OWENS: None whatsoever, sir.
REP. JENKINS: All right.
Well let me ask Father Drinan a question. Father Drinan, it appears to bother you. I don't know how this vote's going to turn out. You may be absolutely right, it may be strictly along party lines. But you seem to be disturbed that the prospect exists that there could be 21 Republicans who would ultimately vote for an article of impeachment. Are you not just as concerned that there might be 16 members of the other political party who would vote no on an article of impeachment? Does that not concern you too? Does it not work both ways?
FATHER DRINAN: Sir, I inherit the great tradition of 1974 when first this thing was in the country -- we wouldn't do that; there was something wrong with our judgment if some Republicans didn't agree with us. That was the beginning from day one, that we can't trust our own judgment unless we have some Republicans with us. And we got seven people, in the end.
MS. HOLTZMAN: Can I just remind you, sir, that --
REP. JENKINS: Are you working on getting anybody on the other side of the aisle to change their mind, Father Drinan? (Laughter.)
FATHER DRINAN: I think it would bother me all the time if it's strictly partisan, that there's something wrong with the logic that it doesn't appear to the other side.
MS. HOLTZMAN: May I just respond -- just briefly? We wrote the Articles of Impeachment with Republicans. It was not -- they weren't crafted by one side, said, "Here, take it or leave it." It was a joint effort, a joint writing.
REP. JENKINS: Well, I'm about to run out of time. But if I have time, Ms. Holtzman, let me -- you said that a trial would disrupt the workings of the Supreme Court; is that correct?
MS. HOLTZMAN: I believe so.
REP. JENKINS: Now, was that true in 1974?
MS. HOLTZMAN: We didn't get to that point.
REP. JENKINS: Well, would it have been true if you had gotten to that point?
MS. HOLTZMAN: Well --
REP. SENSENBRENNER: The gentleman's time has expired.
REP. JENKINS: All right. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. SENSENBRUNNER: The gentleman from Arkansas, Mr. Hutchinson.
REP. ASA HUTCHINSON (R-AR): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. As I listen to the testimony today, it's like we yearn for the days of Camelot. I know those were tough times, but it sounds like we describe them in terms of great bipartisanship and everything was just smooth in the committee. And last night I had an opportunity to read back through many of the statements that were made during the Watergate proceedings and I enjoyed the statement of James R. Mann, a representative at the time, who said, you know, some of the things that cause me to wonder are the phrases that keep coming back to me, "Oh, it's just politics," or "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone." So I look back and I think you all heard some of the same things that we hear today.
And I am impressed, no question about it, with your ability to achieve, in the end, not total bipartisanship, but where some Republicans, the minority, came over and looked at the facts and came over based upon the facts to conclude that there were impeachable offenses committed. Now, I didn't know who's right or wrong but I do respect the other side that they're looking at this as a matter of conscience. And I think that we're looking at this as a matter of conscience. It happens to divide us, though.
And I look at this panel right here -- you know, there's disagreement right here, and you three reflect it. Now, Father Drinan's tried to soften his comments based upon Mr. Owens' comments, but Mr. Drinan, you were very clear back, the last time you testified, that censure was totally unacceptable. And I think you've tried to soften that today out of respect for your colleague. In fact, you said at that time, "There is no procedure for congressional censure. The introduction of such a procedure could weaken the independence of the presidency and be a danger to the integrity of the separation of powers." Is that an accurate quote, Father Drinan?
FATHER DRINAN: And I say it again.
REP. HUTCHINSON: And so the point is, I don't -- that there's disagreement on this panel. Now, I look at the testimony of Mr. Owens and I wrote this down when you said it, but you said the president did lie to the grand jury and then you conclude there should be a different outcome and you said that his presidency was in danger and that's one of the reasons that motivated him to lie as well as protecting his family. You know, it just seems that the president, if you conclude that the president did lie to the grand jury and that his motivation, whatever his motivation was, to protect his presidency, well, that rings like 1974, that President Nixon was concerned about his presidency.
MR. OWENS: Now, wait, Mr. Congressman, that's not what I said --
REP. HUTCHINSON: Okay, I don't --
MR. OWENS: -- with all respect.
REP. HUTCHINSON: Tell me --
MR. OWENS: I said that I think he did lie. And I think that his response was --
REP. HUTCHINSON: You said "lie to the grand jury," is that correct?
MR. OWENS: -- was that the -- pardon me?
REP. HUTCHINSON: I wrote it down that you said that the president lied to the grand jury.
MR. OWENS: Initially he lied to the, I think, in his testimony in the civil deposition and then reiterated by implication that testimony to the grand jury. I think I meant to say the civil testimony, but I think by implication that's true. But the point here is that the president was not defending, was not covering up a gross abuse of the presidential office, he was covering up a stupid infidelity, a sexual transgression. And I said very clearly he was concerned, I think, mostly about his wife and about his family, and then also by the great embarrassment, ultimately the presidency.
REP. HUTCHINSON: I don't think I misquoted you, then. What you just said is not any different than what I said you said.
MR. OWENS: If I said what you said I said, then I didn't mean to say what you said I said -- (laughter) -- and I apologize.
REP. HUTCHINSON: The point is that I think that there's a difference among the panel as to your view of it, and I think there's some respectful differences in this body. And I respect my colleagues, even though they might have a different view of this. I think it's an extraordinarily serious matter. I come into this committee as a former prosecutor. And, you know, perjury is just an extraordinarily serious thing to me, and I'm weighing that. And so I just hope that Americans can see that we're trying to do this.
One other point, finally. Some of you have referenced to the beyond a reasonable doubt standard that arguably was applied. And I've heard that mentioned twice, I believe it is. And in reading your statements in 1974 and the committee report, I believe that each of you applied the standard of clear and convincing evidence and not beyond a reasonable doubt. Am I correct in that?
MR. OWENS: That's my recollection, yes. That's -- the testimony that I just read into the record in response to Mr. Canady's earlier quote says that I promised that I would impeach only if there were hard evidence and which was sufficient to support conviction in the Senate. That's my 1974 testimony. I wouldn't say that another time I didn't talk about clear and convincing. But the test I had ultimately was what would sustain conviction in the Senate.
REP. HUTCHINSON: Well -- but I'm sure it says --
REP. HYDE: The gentleman's time has expired.
REP. HUTCHINSON: -- it is a record, additional views, I would offer it that it was clear and convincing. Ms. Holtzman, was yours the same, clear and convincing?
REP. SENSENBRENNER: The gentleman's time has expired.
The gentleman from Indiana, Mr. Pease.
REP. ED PEASE (R-IN): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I --
REP. SENSENBRENNER: Mr. -- the gentleman from Indiana, can you yield to me for one quick question?
REP. PEASE: Of course, Mr. Chairman.
REP. SENSENBRENNER: I would like to ask the panel, having heard about the necessity for bipartisanship, if during the 1974 Watergate hearings all of the Republicans who were then serving on the Judiciary Committee got taken in by the Nixon White House stonewall and refused to vote for any of the articles of impeachment, would the Democrats on the committee have gone ahead and reported them out of committee and referred them to the House for a debate and vote?
MS. HOLTZMAN: But that's not what happened, Mr. Chairman. (Laughter.) What happened is --
REP. SENSENBRENNER: The question -- the question, Ms. Holtzman, was you said that it was necessary to report out articles on a bipartisan basis.
My question was, if bipartisanship could not have been achieved in 1974, would you have proceeded to report the articles out of committee and sought a floor vote on those articles? It's a simple question that can be answered yes or no.
MS. HOLTZMAN: Well, I don't know that anybody can rewrite history. The fact is that the committee worked together to achieve a bipartisan result. We crafted Articles of Impeachment together because we understood that the country would never accept a partisan impeachment, and we wanted to make sure because -- and to answer Mr. Hutchinson --
REP. SENSENBRENNER: Well, I guess I'm not going to get an answer to that question, so I'll give the time back to Mr. Pease.
REP. : Mr. Chairman? Mr. Chairman?
REP. PEASE: If I can have my time back, Mr. Chairman.
REP. SENSENBRENNER: Mr. Pease is recognized. He can proceed as he wants.
REP. PEASE: I did want to follow up on my colleague, Mr. Hutchinson's line of inquiry regarding the proper standard. And whatever folks may have said 25 years ago or today is not as important to me as a current discussion of what you think ought be the standard. Whatever the differences may be on what constitutes an impeachable offense, what do you think ought be the standard, number one? And we've heard "beyond a reasonable doubt" and "clear and convincing."
And secondly, what you think ought be the process by which we make the decision about whether to go forward; whether that ought to be simply that we believe there's probable cause, or whether it ought be that we believe that there will be a conviction in the Senate, or whether it's something in between, such as there is sufficient evidence for a conviction, not necessarily a certainty that there will be.
Now, I know that's two major questions for a short period of time, but if you could address both of those, I would appreciate it. And we'll just start with Ms. Holtzman.
MS. HOLTZMAN: I tried to address it in my testimony, that very point. Personally, when I voted for impeachment, I believed that we did have evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, and that that was the standard that in our hearts we used. If we had to articulate it, maybe we wouldn't, and maybe that standard doesn't have to apply, but it has to be a very, very high standard because of the disruption of the country that you should be able to do it.
With regard to how you view yourselves, I would say definitely not as a grand jury. We're not dealing with probable cause. We believed -- when we voted for the impeachment of Richard Nixon, we believed not only that he should be removed, but that he would be removed, and that he had to be removed.
REP. SENSENBRENNER: Do you believe that that ought be the standard or just that you concluded that it --
MS. HOLTZMAN: Yes, because I don't think you start this process lightly.
You have to -- I think you have to have in your head that the conduct warrants removal and that the likelihood of removal will be there.
FATHER DRINAN: Sir, the evidence was so overwhelming that we didn't have to get to the question, the refined question, of "clear and present" or "beyond every reasonable doubt." It was just so absolutely baffling.
MR. OWENS: Mr. Pease, I don't think the grand jury analogy is perfect here, and thus "clear and convincing" is not necessarily definitive and not the best answer. I thought that -- and feel today, where the country's so polarized on this issue, and it was not in 1974 -- I think today that, unless you have clear -- not only clear and convincing evidence, but evidence beyond a reasonable doubt to justify your indictment of the president, that you ought not to indict, that you ought to have another alternative punishment in mind.
REP. PEASE: Thank you all. I know there's not much time left, but I yield what I have to Mr. Canady.
REP. CANADY: I do want to respond to the point that was made, which is totally erroneous. I did not misrepresent the gentleman's testimony. And I think if you look at the testimony, you'll understand that the gentleman from start to finish focused on the inadequacy of the evidence that was before the committee -- what you referred to as "hard evidence." And that is inconsistent with what you've represented to the committee here today, that the committee at that point was deciding to drop the matter because they decided that it was not an impeachable offense.
You end up saying to the committee, "I urge my colleagues, based on that lack of evidence, to reject this article." Your whole focus was on a lack of evidence and not on the claim that you've made today, that the -- that tax fraud, even if proven, would not be an impeachable offense.
MR. OWENS: Well, the gentleman has not given me the courtesy of giving me a copy of my remarks, and I don't have them in mind.
REP. CANADY: You have them before you!
MR. OWENS: I know what I said on this page --
REP. CANADY: You read from them. You read from them.
MR. OWENS: -- and I just quoted it to the gentleman.
REP. CANADY: Well, you know the paragraph that comes right after it. It's right there. And I ask unanimous consent to place these full remarks in the record of the hearing.
REP. HYDE: Without objection, so ordered. The gentleman's time has expired.
REP. CHRIS CANNON (R-UT): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I'd like to begin by associating myself with the comments of Mr. Goodlatte, wherein he said that the -- President Clinton's purpose appears not to have been to avoid personal embarrassment, but to obstruct justice in the Jones case and to suggest to the American people that we're all looking for evidence from the president to the contrary on that point.
I would also like to associate myself with your comments, Mr. Chairman, about -- where you ask the question how inconvenient is the erosion of the rule of law, comparing that to the inconvenience of an impeachment of the president.
Now we have some parallels today between myself and one of our witnesses, that is Mr. Owens from Utah. He was a freshman in the Nixon impeachment 24 years ago, as am I. We are both lawyers. We both have deep interest in Utah and national public-lands issues. I might say that we also have some very deep differences that divide us, but I don't think that that goes beyond our friendship.
And frankly, Mr. Owens, if I -- I was intrigued by the comments that you have made, without much opportunity to really flesh them out, about censure. I take it you believe that censure is an option we ought to have. Frankly, I think that is something that many of us on the committee would like to see at least debated. Personally, I am not yet of a view that censure is appropriate, for which I would like to hear your comments.
You have talked about the seriousness for what the president -- would you mind, first of all, commenting about the seriousness of what the president has done and why censure is appropriate in that context; and then if you would deal with issues like whether a penalty, like a monetary penalty or an appearance in the well of the House, would be appropriate?
MR. OWENS: Well, I appreciate my friend from Utah's giving me this opportunity.
I have argued for a long time, before Gerald Ford made it in a more persuasive way, that censure is the alternative here, which should be considered. To lie, to mislead under oath -- and, in my mind, to look into the eyes of the American people and say in a very straightforward way what -- is not just misleading -- was a lie, that he did not have sex with this woman Ms. Lewinsky, I think deserves some punishment.
REP. CANNON: Could I just --
MR. OWENS: But it does not rise to the level of impeachability, as I said several times, and that there ought to be an alternative way of expressing the displeasure and the disapproval of the Congress and, through it, the American people, if the American people, according to polls, would support censure.
REP. CANNON: How do you make censure substantial? You know, personally I don't think it means much. Would you add a penalty?
MR. OWENS: Well, I am not involved in any of the negotiations. But of course, the press is saying the president would pay up to $300,000. I don't know. It sounds a little like another deal in this body recently --
REP. CANNON: I think that deal would result in about a $4.5 million --
MR. OWENS: There is some precedent for that.
REP. CANNON: -- in penalties. (Laughs.)
MR. OWENS: I am sorry?
REP. CANNON: I think that deal, which you modeled it on, that deal would be about a $4.5 million penalty.
MR. OWENS: Well, whatever. The president would have to agree to it, because you couldn't assess it. You have no constitutional authority to do anything --
REP. CANNON: But if the president --
MR. OWENS: -- in a material way to the president, short of impeachment.
REP. CANNON: If the president agreed to it, what does that do to separation of powers?
MR. OWENS: The pain would be in that he would be the second president in the history of the country to have been censured and condemned by this body; that he would pay, if he does pay a fine; that he would come to the well of the -- House -- and express his disappointment and accept responsibility. That would be a very degrading experience, but it would get us beyond it.
It would be a punishment, and in my view as an old 25-year observer of these issues, I think would be an adequate punishment, a proper punishment.
REP. CANNON: May I just -- I wish I had more time because I'd like to pursue it and maybe we can privately, but it seems to me the issue here is not punishment of the president, it's political hygiene. It's solving a problem, it's solving an example of the destruction of the rule of law, of the sanctity of perjury. I don't care whether the penalty is large or small; it doesn't seem to me that that's the issue so much as the constitutionality of a penalty. I think that the submission of the president to either a penalty or to standing in the well of the House and demeaning the office of the presidency is a far graver constitutional problem than the inconvenience of an impeachment hearing, and thus I find myself compelled to think that there is only two alternatives, impeachment or vindication.
Thank you. I yield the balance of my time.
REP. HUTCHINSON: The gentleman from California, Mr. Rogan.
REP. JAMES ROGAN (R-CA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I not only welcome our former colleagues to the Judiciary Committee, if I may be so bold by welcoming you home. I was a 15-year-old rabid liberal Democrat during the Nixon impeachment, and so, having been transfixed to the television in those days, you were all heroes of mine. Although I'm now more sober and judicious in my party affiliation, I still deeply respect your service to our country and to the Congress, and I --
MR. OWENS: I hope it wasn't our impeachment of the president which made a Republican out of you, sir. (laughter.)
REP. ROGAN: No, I just -- I gave up drinking heavy spirits, and -- (Laughter.) A couple of things. First, just -- with respect to the concept of censure, it is a fact that Andrew Jackson was censured by one Congress and then the censure was expunged by the following Congress, and my recollection in the law is an expungement means that it never occurred. In fact, when criminal records are expunged, former defendants can go to court, or rather, can apply for a job and put down that they have never been convicted and that is a truthful statement. And so one of the problems I would suggest with censure is that it can be removed and be expunged from the record. But I don't want to spend my time belaboring that point. There are a couple of --
MR. OWENS: Might I just comment on that, Congressman?
REP. ROGAN: If I have time remaining, Congressman Owens, I'd be more than happy to invite comment, but as you know, the red light comes on rather quickly and I do want to make a couple of observations.
I am very proud of the fact that during the Watergate era a number of Republicans who served on this committee were prepared to put their party affiliation aside to look at the merits of the case and cast what had to be one of the toughest votes of their entire career.
I remember, as a freshman member of the state assembly, voting against the budget of my governor and how bad that was; I can't imagine what it had to be like for members of the Republican Party on this committee to vote to impeach the president of their party, probably a president who had appeared in their districts, had raised money for them, had supported them and had campaigned for them.
Now we are 24 years later, and there is the suggestion that if my colleagues on the Democrat side do not vote for any articles of impeachment should the Republicans on this committee vote for articles of impeachment, that somehow de-legitimizes the vote. And I certainly hope that that is not the expression that any of you are trying to make, because I will cast my vote for any and all articles under a lot of reasons, but ultimately as a matter of conscience. And I would never suggest that any of my colleagues on the other side would do anything other than just that. I know all of my colleagues on this committee. I deeply respect them.
And I would also suggest that on matters of grave national urgency not relating to impeachment, on matters of economic principle, foreign affairs, national security, there are times when there are party-line votes. It doesn't necessarily mean that partisanship is ruling the day; it means that people with legitimate expectations and with honest differences of opinion have done their very best. And I'm sure that that has been the experience of our three former colleagues who join us today.
I'm also concerned about what I perceive to be a double standard, not necessarily promulgated by this panel, but certainly it has been suggested throughout the day by some witnesses and, quite frankly, some of my colleagues. We are constantly being reminded that there are polls that have been taken that suggest that the American people do not want the president to be impeached, and therefore, Congress should abrogate their constitutional obligations and simply follow the polls.
I reject that notion. The polls are interesting. It's something we politicians like to look at. But if that were the standard, we would simply just shut down the legislative, executive and judicial branches and turn legislating over to Dr. Gallup's organization. But if somebody is going to make that suggestion, then I would respectfully suggest that they have to consider the other side of it, because the latest poll that I've seen says that if the president lied to a grand jury, he should leave office, by a 57 percent margin; and if the president encouraged others to lie, he should resign. The agreement on that was 60 percent.
Now, we don't see supporters of the president who come before the committee or go before the television cameras suggesting the president should not be impeached because the polls say he should not be impeached, they don't then turn around and run down to the White House and say, "However, Mr. President, the polls explicitly say over and over that you should resign from office if you've lied."
And in fact, Congressman Owens, I too wrote down that you said you believed the president lied before the federal grand jury.
Those are a couple of observations I wanted to make with respect to the testimony that's been elicited today and if I --
REP. HYDE: The gentleman's time has expired.
REP. ROGAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And my apologies to Congressman Owens. I was trying to squeeze a few seconds out for you.
REP. HYDE: The gentleman from South Carolina, Mr. Graham.
REP. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. HYDE: Would Mr. Graham yield to me for just a second?
REP. GRAHAM: Absolutely.
REP. HYDE: Put your mike on.
REP. GRAHAM: Absolutely.
REP. HYDE: Mr. Rogan was talking about the efficacy of polls in our political careers. And I'd like to ask Father Drinan a question, if you would, on polls. Someone said that if Jesus had taken a poll, he would never have preached the Gospel. Do you agree? (Laughter.)
FATHER DRINAN: (Chuckles) That's beyond my realm! (Laughter.)
REP. HYDE: Okay! (Chuckles.) Mr. -- I hope not!
REP. GRAHAM: Well thank you. Being a Baptist, that gets me going here.
REP. HYDE: (Chuckles.)
REP. GRAHAM: Let me make a couple of observations. And I really do appreciate you coming. I've talked to at least one of you privately.
And this is very difficult; it's not like Watergate. It's not exactly what you were dealing with. In many ways, what you were dealing with was probably more serious, or at least you could put your hands and around it and say it's more serious. You've really got to dig in this case, I think, to feel uncomfortable, and the more I did, the more uncomfortable I feel. Because it's easy to write it off as somebody -- the deer in the headlights; that's a good analogy. That's what I thought at first; I thought the president got stunned, he's trying to protect himself, and you know, he just started telling a lie and couldn't get his way out of it. I'm not so sure I believe that anymore.
But I do believe this, that if we impeach a president based on a consensual sexual affair, no matter how inappropriate, we're going to screw this country up -- pardon the term. And I don't mean to be crude about it, but we're really going to mess this country up. And that has always been off the table for me because I don't want to go down that road because we have elections and impeachment should be reserved for very serious offenses like you were dealing with.
And I would say this to you, that if every Republican had voted no during your time, history would acquit you well.
You were right to have voted to remove President Nixon.
Let me tell you what I'm becoming more and more concerned about. This is more like Peyton Place than it is Watergate, but there's a component to this case that's very unnerving. Richard Nixon cheated the electoral process. I think Richard Nixon didn't trust the American people to get it right in election, and he had operatives going and breaking into the other side's office. And when he knew about it, he cheated to cover it up. Richard Nixon cheated the American electoral process. I'm beginning to believe more and more that this is not about being caught in the headlights of a person caught in a lie about a consentual matter, but that the president was very much in a(n) organized trying to cheat the legal system and cheat the party in opposition to him.
I believe, whether you believe it or not, that when we went to his secretary and planted a story in her mind along the lines "Monica came on to me and I never touched her, right, she wanted to have sex with me and I couldn't do that," he said that the day after his deposition, that he had a sinister motive, not an innocent motive. I believe that he went to Ms. Currie in an unlawful manner to change her testimony, and I will tell you later what I think was going to happen to Monica Lewinsky. I believe that when his lawyer had to write a letter to the court saying "I apologize for putting a false affidavit in evidence" that his lawyer was duped by the president.
I believe that like Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton was very involved in an unlawful activity to cheat the legal system. I am willing with some admissions on his part and reconciliation on his part to the law (to) consider another disposition, because this is not totally like Watergate. However, if he does not reconcile himself with the law, if he continues to dance on the head of a pin, if he continues to bring people in here who won't say anything about the facts but tell me how to vote, I don't think he has the character to be our president. And I will vote to impeach him based on what he did, not based on any other sinister motive.
I yield back the balance of my time.
REP. HYDE: I thank the gentleman.
The gentle lady from California, Mr. Bono.
REP. MARY BONO (R-CA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I -- way a long time ago, Mr. Owen, you made a comment that hit me pretty hard. You mentioned that it is our fault that seven-year- olds in this country have heard about sex. And I take great -- I disagree with that statement wholeheartedly.
I think that we have to remember that the president is a role model, and it is solely his actions that have caused that, not ours, and I think that if we start with that -- at least putting some responsibility where it belongs, it's a pretty good start, at least as a parent. So I would like to just point that out.
I don't know if you truly meant that -- that it is our fault --
MR. OWENS: I -- I don't think I said it in that fashion. I said that it's this committee's responsibility or fault that they gave to America, to the seven- and eight-year-olds, the knowledge -- or raised the question of what oral sex is, what telephone sex is, and what you can do with a cigar sexually.
I was interviewed yesterday in Salt Lake City as I left by a reporter who said, "I don't appreciate my little children asking me those questions."
REP. BONO: Mr. Owens, I get that question more than anybody. I really have to say I get that quite often, and I have to tell you that's not quite what you said, and it is nobody's fault, it is not our fault. The responsibility must lie with the president with this one. You know, the buck has to stop there on that one.
But I want to make a point generally in response to what the witnesses have said today. You have said that in 1974 you voted according to your consciences and have no regrets.
Please know that now in 1998 we are proceeding according to our consciences based on the facts and the law. None of our guests have done what my colleagues and I have done and that is gone to the Ford Building and reviewed the thousands of pages of documents and watched the videotaped depositions.
Those were the facts that are relevant to this inquiry, and I'm sure that if you had taken the time to review this compelling evidence, that you would also support the impeachment with no regrets.
But my question is to you, Ms. Holtzman, as somebody I respect, and I look -- I admire for having been in this seat years ago -- if the -- excuse me, in 1974 you would have no Republican support whatsoever, would you still have reported out those articles of impeachment?
MS. HOLTZMAN: I -- well, I know you go back to that because you find you find yourself in a very awkward position where you don't have the support and there's no bipartisan support. So I want to urge what my colleague, Wayne Owens, said, which is to find an alternative that can bring Republicans and Democrats together, because the legitimacy, even if you are voting in your conscience, in the end, how does the public judge the legitimacy of these proceedings? If it is bipartisan, if there's a common ground found, that is something that the people can take away with and say the Congress acted properly. If it doesn't, then they're befuddled and confused and bewildered.
And that's what I'm saying. This is such a serious effort -- and I don't mean to minimize the searching your conscience or the difficulty of this job. I was there. It's not easy. But what I am saying to you is how important it is to come away with public respect and public confidence in what you're doing. And maybe that's not your first choice, but maybe if we're going to live with this verdict for history, it's the best choice.
REP. BONO: But I'm curious what evidence you do base this on. And have you seen the videotaped deposition or read the transcript in its entirety? What are you comfortably basing your opinion on today?
MS. HOLTZMAN: Well, you don't have bipartisan support right now --
REP. BONO: I know, but, I mean, my question is --
MS. HOLTZMAN: -- and I'm trying to say to you, in terms of ultimately how this will go down in history and how the public will accept it and how they will deal with the serious disruption --
REP. BONO: No, but wait, can you go -- my question is a simple one --
MS. HOLTZMAN: And they won't. It'll be difficult for this to happen --
REP. BONO: Okay. Can you answer my question?
MS. HOLTZMAN: I'm sorry. I think I misunderstood your question.
REP. BONO: I didn't if you're a lawyer. You must be a lawyer, because you're good at this.
My question is very simple. It was a -- you know, it's a very simple one. But actually, with this -- my -- Lindsey Graham has asked for me to give him my time, and I'll be happy to do that. It's on the yellow --
REP. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): (Off mike) -- well, I don't mean to interrupt. Just do you believe the president committed grand jury perjury, Ms. Holtzman?
MS. HOLTZMAN: Well, he came very close to a line. I don't know whether he danced over it or he didn't.
REP. : (Laughs.)
REP. GRAHAM: Very close, but no cigar? (Laughter.) Well, I think --
MS. HOLTZMAN: I don't --
REP. GRAHAM: Let me tell you -- let me tell you -- and every time -- that shows you the problem with this case. There's a thousand million jokes out there. This is serious. There's a thousand million jokes, and you can't go to Rotary Club -- and it's not because of our fault, it's because of Bill Clinton's fault. And if he doesn't reconcile himself with the law -- he committed grand jury perjury, and when you come to believe that like we do, if it's 21-16, so be it.
MS. HOLTZMAN: But if you do it, you need to do it with evidence, you need to do it with the facts, you need to do it with witnesses. You have to assure the public that this process has been one that's honorable.
REP. HYDE: The gentleman and the gentlelady's time has expired.
And Mr. Conyers, who reserved his time earlier today, is now recognized.
REP. CONYERS: I want to congratulate my former colleagues for a long afternoon and evening's work here. You've helped me keep hope alive that we might somehow be able to persuade a few members of Congress, maybe even on this committee, some of whom have spoken today about evidence against the president.
But you know generalities are not enough to impeach. Instead, there must be concrete evidence that is clear and convincing and that rises to the level of an impeachable offense.
And when we look at the evidence, examine it carefully, what do we see? Allegation of perjury in the Paula Jones deposition. Well, what we see, beyond the fact that the president's testimony was not material, is that he was confronted at the deposition with a tortured definition of sexual relations that he hadn't seen before and which was inconsistent with the Webster definition. To make matters worse, the presiding judge changed the definition as the president sat there. The simple fact, supported in the record, is that the definition was ambiguous, and it is the Jones lawyers, not the president, who bear the responsibility for that ambiguity. They could have just asked the president, "Who touched who where?" but they chose not to. The president can't be blamed for that. That cannot, therefore, be the foundation for an article of impeachment.
Now, my friends across the aisle say that the president lied in the grand jury, but they neglect to mention that he admitted to an improper sexual relationship there.
So then we have these three alleged -- attenuated theories of perjury: that the president somehow understood the term "sexual relations" to be something more than the limited and contorted definition provided by the Paula Jones lawyers; two, that he lied about a difference of a mere three months regarding the inception of the relationship; or, three, that he actually touched Ms. Lewinsky in certain places.
Ladies and gentlemen, are we serious?
Do we really intend, for the second time in our history, to impeach a president over a case that holds out these weak, puny perjury charges as its foundation? Do we wonder why this committee's ratings are not going up? We're in trouble here, inside of this room.
Some of my Republican friends have realized the flimsy nature of these allegations and are trying -- they're, well, grasping at an even perhaps less persuasive case on obstruction. Think about where that goes. They say that Lewinsky's return of the gifts somehow amounts to obstruction, but then, again, neglect to mention that the testimony clearly establishes that Miss Lewinsky, and not the president, sought the return of the gifts. Remember also, that Monica Lewinsky said no one told her to lie, no one promised her a job. The job search started long before the Jones case and Betty Currie wasn't even on a witness list when the president refreshed his recollection with her. So that conversation could not possibly lead into witness tampering.
Now, we hear novel charges that the president lied about his conversations with Vernon Jordan. But when you examine the record closely, the record is clear that the president answered poorly worded questions regarding his conversation with Jordan to the best of his current knowledge. There's no evidence that he gave false answers.
And so, I close, the charges against the president, when stripped away of partisan rhetoric and factual gaps, are, in reality, a paper tiger. Do we on the Democratic side contest the charges? We sure do. And we assert that this committee has done no independent factual inquiry, no evidentiary witnesses, and as it is incumbent upon them to do, to justify any case of impeachment.
And I am delighted to -- if the chairman will allow, any of you that would like to make a comment about my assertions as the final questioner, perhaps you might want to try that.
FATHER DRINAN: You want additional comments?
REP. CONYERS: Well no. If you had something that was important that you add it to my comments. But I didn't want to prolong my time, it's expired.
FATHER DRINAN: Well, I think we all have to pray for each other so that we can come to the right decision.
REP. HYDE: That's a very happy --
REP. CONYERS: That's appropriate!
REP. HYDE: -- very happy note to end this session on.
MR. OWENS: Mr. Chairman?
REP. HYDE: Who is seeking recognition?
MR. OWENS: In front of you here, sir.
REP. CONYERS: Wayne Owens.
REP. HYDE: Oh, I'm sorry. Mr. Owens.
MR. OWENS: I just wanted to commend you for your conduct of these hearings. I think you bring great integrity to them. Your old friend from Utah strongly believes that if you are to heal the country and bring us together, you have to give an alternative for a censure resolution, and I urge in the strongest way that you afford that opportunity to your colleagues.
I thank the gentleman for his courtesy.
REP. HYDE: I certainly hear -- I certainly hear what you're saying and take note of it. And I want to thank --
MS. HOLTZMAN: I'd like to echo his comments, Mr. Chairman.
REP. HYDE: Fine. I just want to thank you all, three wonderful troopers, former members of this great committee, and we were instructed and illuminated by your being here today.
MR. OWENS: Well any time you want us to come and tell you how to run your job, Mr. Chairman, you just give us a call. (Laughter.) Thank you very much.
REP. HYDE: You may have to wait in line, but that's fine.
Thank you so much.
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