THE IMPEACHMENT HEARINGS
Rep. Steve Buyer Questions Starr
Thursday, November 19, 1998
REP. SENSENBRENNER: The gentleman from Indiana, Mr. Buyer.
REP. STEVE BUYER (R-IN): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have several thoughts I'd like to convey, and then I have some specific questions for Judge Starr.
Some of us here have also been prosecutors, and we've served as also defense lawyers, and we kind of can recollect on our own experiences. But none of us could ever come close, not even close, to the attacks that have come upon you and your office and your character and the character of those in your office by not only some of my own colleagues that are here, some associates of the president, some of the president's own criminal defense lawyers. And it's unfortunate, but I suppose it's part of the process in America. But you've kept your head up high, and you've maintained your intellect here today, and I appreciate that.
MR. STARR: Thank you.
REP. BUYER: There are two things for -- which I also feel very strong about, as I represent my constituents of Indiana, because they also take great pride in our heritage -- and so we have reverence in our heritage -- and it's, one, that the Supreme Court has held consistently that no one is above the law; secondly, that the courthouse door is open to everyone in our society, that the courthouse in America is not meant just for the wealthy or the powerful; the courthouse door is also open to the powerless, to the needy, and to the poor.
And so when I look at this case that you have now referred to Congress, I look at this and say that the courts were never meant to be manipulated by the powerful over the powerless. And what do we have here in front of us? What all happened? We had the most powerful individual on the face of the Earth, of the greatest country this world has ever seen, finds himself as a defendant in a civil rights case.
It boggles my mind to hear some people who claim that they are in true advocates of civil rights, now somehow claim that it's okay to lie in a civil rights case. That just boggles my mind. What message do we want to send unto our society? So what do we have? We have the president; he took an oath to faithfully execute the laws of the land. The president has a constitutional duty to do just that. It is alleged that the president, as a defendant in a sexual harassment civil rights case in federal court committed perjury in his deposition before a federal judge.
One of my questions to you is, did Judge Susan Webber Wright ever discuss with your office a referral for perjury that was before her in person? Also, the allegations of suborning the perjury of others, knowing that these government agents would be witnesses before your grand jury and repeat these lies. This lying under oath before the grand jury is very serious. The tampering with witnesses who also gave this -- witness -- testimony before your grand jury; the obstruction of justice by entering into a conspiracy with others to hide evidence. Does that not corrupt the legal process? Does that not deny the powerless the opportunity to a fair trial in our system? I ask that as a question of you. I -- I'll keep on going.
MR. STARR: The courts take the truth --
REP. BUYER: Hold that thought. Hold that thought.
MR. STARR: Oh, I'm sorry.
REP. BUYER: We also have then the allegations of the abuse of power by the most powerful person in our country, by using government resources, his own staff, the Cabinet, and make these presidential privileges for his own personal gain because he was a defendant in a civil rights case in a civil case where he had -- could lose monetary -- lose money! So he chose deception and deceit because he wanted to protect his own wallet, his own image, and further, from embarrassment.
So we had testimony by legal scholars that also said impeachment of judges are also the same as the impeachment of presidents. If -- here's another question I have for you, is if truth and fairness are foundations of our justice system, if fairness is the bedrock of justice and truth is the water that runs through it, and we want to make sure that never is the water -- in our advocacy of our legal system, we want the pursuit of clarity and of truth -- and we never want it to be polluted by those who seek to deceit (sic).
And if, in fact, this standard that we have to go by is -- to defend the Constitution -- if treason, bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanors in fact is our standard, is not bribery of such a felony of wickedness and deceit and willful and corruption to manipulate others, is contrary to the legitimacy of our judicial system, isn't it also polluting, then, to our bedrock of fairness and truth? And it is of similar character of bribery and therefore would warrant the serious capacity of this impeachment proceeding? Those are my three questions.
REP. HYDE: The witness will answer.
MR. STARR: I believe that, Congressman, that perjury does take of the same dimension in our law as bribery because it is a corruption of the court system. And in response to your second question, courts do, indeed, as I was starting to say, take the truth very seriously and they want the truth. That is the object of the process, so that the truth will come out. So that it's not the party with the most clever lawyer, but that the facts will come out. Our adversary system is based upon the truthful statement of testimony under oath and the compliance with court orders and the like.
You asked the first question, and I would prefer, with respect to Judge Wright, to answer any question only in executive session.
REP. BUYER: Thank you, Judge.
REP. HYDE: The gentleman's time is expired. the gentlewoman from Texas, Ms. JACKSON LEE.
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