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'Legal Jousting Serves No . . . Purpose'

Tuesday, September 15, 1998; Page A09

Statement by Senate Democratic Leader Thomas A. Daschle (S.D.) on the Starr report:

In recent days, many of us have had a chance to review the Referral of the Independent Counsel and the President's preliminary and initial responses to it. We have also heard further elaboration of the President's position by his counsel and his advisors.

I certainly agree with those who have grown impatient with hair-splitting over legal technicalities. There is a basic understanding of the standard of truthfulness that the President failed to meet. He had, as he concedes, a sexual relationship that was undeniably wrong, and he didn't tell the truth about it. The President and his advisors must accept that continued legal jousting serves no constructive purpose. It simply stands in the way of what we need to do: move forward and let common sense guide us in doing what is best for the country.

As we consider that goal, I question what purpose is served by additional exposure to the salacious details contained in the Starr report. We must find a way to proceed and avoid further bombardment of the airwaves and Internet with such material. We must find a way to restore some level of decency to our public discourse.

What clearly is best for the country is a genuine effort to resolve this matter responsibly -- that is, quickly, fairly and on a bipartisan basis. We should not rule out any action to meet public demand for a prompt, appropriate conclusion in the public interest. If such a conclusion requires the Congress to return to session after the election, we should certainly do so. If it requires the Congress to consider other means to address the President's conduct, holding him fully accountable but sparing the nation months more of instability and policy paralysis, that, too, merits consideration. However it is done, nothing could be more important at this time than resolving this crisis justly and turning our full attention to our national policy agenda.

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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