THE IMPEACHMENT HEARINGS
Rep. Howard Coble Questions Starr
Thursday, November 19, 1998
REP. HOWARD COBLE (R-NC): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Judge Starr, you have become the bull's-eye of the target upon which several aspiring political gunslingers have fired. (Soft laughter.) A recent AP story quoted a Democrat member of this Congress saying, "The House Judiciary Committee Republicans are looking for a way to wiggle out of this mess."
Now let me get this straight. President Clinton was involved in an illicit sexual affair -- strike that -- illicit sexual affairs in the White House with a young White House intern of tender years. President Clinton subsequently assured all America that he did not have an improper relationship with "that woman." President Clinton, continuing his denial, spoke untruthfully in a deposition or interrogatory and before a federal grand jury, causing perjury to rear its ugly head. And for all this, you are the bull's eye of the target, the House Republicans are trying to wiggle a way out of the mess. I obviously missed class that day, because as I review my material and notes, common sense and reality are conspicuously absent.
Judge Starr, if one half of the unfavorable comments leveled at you are true, you probably should be keelhauled. I'm inclined to dismiss most of them, and as evidenced by your demeanor today, I think most of that trashing was probably just that -- trashing.
Now, I'll admit I'm not happy with the cost of this investigation, but some of that must be attributed to the president's delaying and deceptive and evasive tactics.
Let me go to page 21, Judge Starr. That's sort of what you were referring earlier, where it says, "The facts suggest the president was attempting to improperly coach Ms. Currie at a time when she was not a potential witness." Shouldn't the word "not" be deleted there?
MR. STARR: Yes. Thank you, Congressman. And in fact, I think the corrected version, which should have come up this morning, should make it clear that she was a potential witness.
REP. COBLE: That should read that she was a potential witness?
MR. STARR: Yes. And I must say, because you've been kind enough to raise that, I would just say in response to issues about potential witnesses, that federal law is clear that these prohibitions against importuning and coaching a witness do indeed go to a potential witness.
REP. COBLE: And I think the word "not" does appear in many of these -- of our scripts.
MR. STARR: I apologize for that.
REP. COBLE: Judge Starr, what evidence did you find to support your conclusion that President Clinton's action involved public misconduct as opposed to private misconduct, (A); and (B), what evidence, if any, is there that President Clinton breached the public trust?
MR. STARR: Well, Congressman, I'll be as brief as I can. In terms of the public nature of the conduct, it seemed to me as I sought to set out, both in the referral and this morning, that the key is this was no longer -- and I respectfully disagree, but it's not my judgment that governs here -- I respectfully disagree with the suggestion that this, quote, lying about a private sexual relationship. Rather, this is the integrity of the judicial process. These are courts we're now talking about, these are judges, and a district judge is sitting and presiding. And that is, it seems to me, what made that dimension of it very public.
But the other aspect, which we do enumerate in counts or grounds 10 and 11 which are before you, is that in a variety of ways, the president used the powers and influence of the presidency to carry out this continued effort to deny and to delay, including, I believe -- and this goes back to an earlier comment -- when one looks at the pattern of activity that we summarize in grounds 10 and 11, one will see a course of conduct that I believe does, in fact, go to your point, both of your points.
REP. COBLE: Chairman Hyde, it can be done in five minutes, but the red light has not yet illuminated, and I yield back the balance of my time.
REP. HYDE: I thank the gentleman.
The distinguished gentleman from Los Angeles, Mr. Berman.
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