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Rep. William Delahunt Questions Starr

  • More Transcripts From the Hearings

  • By Federal News Service
    Thursday, November 19, 1998

    REP. DELAHUNT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Mr. Starr, you consider yourself a prosecutor, now, don't you? You don't consider yourself an independent counsel.

    MR. STARR: I have never prosecuted --

    REP. DELAHUNT: No, but I'm just saying, in your current capacity, you consider yourself a prosecutor.

    MR. STARR: We have to -- that is certainly an important --

    REP. DELAHUNT: Thank you. Thank you.

    MR. STARR: -- dimension to our --

    REP. DELAHUNT: And I want to get to another question, and you can see how the time is so limited. I'll be brief. You know, Mr. -- I think it was Mr. Canady that talked about due process. And I think -- and I dare say everyone in this room today is concerned about due process.

    My colleague from Massachusetts talked about the fact -- and it is a reality; I think it's important that the American people understand that the witnesses that you dealt with, none of them were subject to cross-examination. And you know that, because you are a prosecutor and because you have -- and you've referenced them many times today -- career prosecutors; so that in terms of their credibility, their memory, it has never been tested in an adversarial fashion. And, you know, that really is a concept that's embedded in our American jurisprudence. Would you agree with that?

    MR. STARR: Absolutely. Cross-examination --

    REP. DELAHUNT: Thank you.

    MR. STARR: -- is very important.

    REP. DELAHUNT: And one other reference. I think it was my friend from Virginia, Mr. Goodlatte, who referred to the Claiborne, Judge Claiborne being removed from office because of -- and I think it was the chairman himself who elucidated for us, it was as a result of filing, under the pains and penalties of perjury, an income tax return. And I think you agreed with that statement.

    But I think it's important to remember that this same committee, back in 1974, when there was an article of impeachment presented before the committee in terms of President Nixon's -- allegations against President Nixon regarding the very same offense, signing under the pains and penalties of perjury -- it was this committee back then that voted against an article of impeachment on that particular matter. I think it's really important that the American people understand that. So there was a difference. There was a difference.

    I'm just going to ask you maybe one or two questions here, just to clarify some confusion in my own mind. You referred earlier to a letter dated June 16th that you directed to the editor of Brill's Content.

    MR. STARR: Yes.

    REP. DELAHUNT: And on page seven of your letter, you noted that the Brill Report stated, and I'm quoting you here, "They were also going to try to get Lewinsky to wire herself and get Jordan, and maybe even the president, on tape obstructing justice," unquote. And I think that's an accurate reading.

    In response, your letter and you then went on to state, and I'm quoting, "This is false. This office never asked Ms. Lewinsky to agree to wire herself for a conversation with Mr. Jordan or the president," unquote. And again, I would suggest to you that that is an accurate reading of your letter, and I would hope that you would adopt it. And I presume when you wrote that, you took great pains to be accurate before you particularly put such an unequivocal statement in writing. Do you stand by that statement?

    MR. STARR: The specific statement on the wiring with respect to the president and Mr. Jordan?

    REP. DELAHUNT: The statement that I just read to you. "This office never asked Ms. Lewinsky" --

    MR. STARR: Yes. I'm sorry, I don't have the letter before me and I'm trying to follow it, and you're reading fairly fast.

    REP. DELAHUNT: Let me read it for you again, and I'll read it slowly. And I apologize. "This office never asked Ms. Lewinsky to agree to wire herself for a conversation with Mr. Jordan or the president."

    MR. STARR: Right. Yes.

    REP. DELAHUNT: You stand by that statement?

    MR. STARR: May I elaborate? Yes. What we -- what happened --

    REP. DELAHUNT: Thank you.

    MR. STARR: May I -- these are serious questions. If I can --

    REP. HYDE: You can try, Judge Starr.

    REP. DELAHUNT: I don't have --

    REP. HYDE: It's going to be tough.

    MR. STARR: Okay.

    REP. HYDE: You can try to answer.

    MR. STARR: I'm sorry.

    REP. DELAHUNT: If I can just indulge, because that would seem --

    REP. : Mr. Chairman, I make a point of order that the witness should be allowed to answer the questions. This drive-by questioning is not right.

    REP. DELAHUNT: I'm still on my time, and I'd ask the chairman --

    REP. FRANK: That's not a point of order, Mr. Chairman. That's a complaint.

    REP. HYDE: Well, elementary fairness dictates an opportunity for the witness to answer your complex questions. And I think if you want to be fair, you'll let him answer.

    REP. DELAHUNT: I will be fair, then. And I would ask the chair to indulge me again some additional time.

    REP. HYDE: I'll indulge you for the answer.

    MR. STARR: We explained to her at the Ritz-Carlton what a cooperating witness would do. It is my understanding -- I was not personally there, but it's my understanding that it was stated at a high level of generality with respect to what cooperating witnesses could be asked to do, and that that was one of the activities that could be included in what a cooperating witness would do, once the witness has been evaluated in terms of her credibility and the like.

    REP. DELAHUNT: So the statement in your letter to Mr. Brill is inaccurate.

    MR. STARR: No, it went with respect to the -- and that's why I wanted to be careful that I understood exactly what the question was. And I hope that I have made clear that we talked at a high level of generality, as I understand it, not in a person-specific way, with respect to what a cooperating witness would do.

    REP. DELAHUNT: You realize that Ms. Lewinsky's testimony contradicts you.

    MR. STARR: I am aware that there may be other perceptions, but that is what we, in fact, asked. It's my understanding that what we asked her to do was to consider being a cooperating witness. And it was stated by our people at a fairly high level of generality.

    REP. HYDE: The gentleman's time has expired. The gentleman from Tennessee, Mr. Jenkins.

    Copyright © 1998 by Federal News Service, Inc. No portion of this transcript may be copied, sold or retransmitted without the written authority of Federal News Service, Inc. Copyright is not claimed as to any part of the original work prepared by a United States government officer or employee as a part of that person's original duties. Transcripts of other events may be found at the Federal News Service Web site, located at

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