Excerpts From Dec. 18 Impeachment Debate
Friday, December 18, 1998 Following are excerpts from Friday's House floor debate on resolutions to impeach President Clinton.
After rejecting a request by D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton to be permitted to vote on impeachment and a Democratic attempt to postpone the impeachment proceedings until the attack on Iraq is over, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) introduced the resolution to impeach the president:
Henry Hyde (R-Ill.): "Mr. Speaker, my colleagues of the people's House, I wish to talk to you about the rule of law. After months of argument, hours of debate, there is no need for further complexity. The question before this House is rather simple. It's not a question of sex. Sexual misconduct and adultery are private acts and are none of Congress's business.
"It's not even a question of lying about sex. The matter before the House is a question of lying under oath. This is a public act, not a private act. This is called perjury. The matter before the House is a question of the willful, premeditated, deliberate corruption of the nation's system of justice. Perjury and obstruction of justice cannot be reconciled with the office of the president of the United States.
"The personal fate of the president is not the issue. The political fate of his party is not the issue. The Dow Jones industrial average is not the issue. The issue is perjury: lying under oath. The issue is obstruction of justice, which the president has sworn the most solemn oath to uphold.
"That oath constituted a compact between the president and the American people. That compact has been broken. The people's trust has been betrayed. The nation's chief executive has shown himself unwilling or incapable of enforcing its laws for he has corrupted the rule of law, the rule of law, by his perjury and his obstruction of justice.
"That and nothing other than that is the issue before this House.
"We have heard ceaselessly that, even if the president is guilty of the charges in the Starr referral, they don't rise to the level of an impeachable offense.
"Well, just what is an impeachable offense?
"One authority, Professor Stephen Presser of Northwestern University Law School said, 'Impeachable offenses are those which demonstrate a fundamental betrayal of public trust. They suggest the federal official has deliberately failed in his duty to uphold the Constitution and laws he was sworn to enforce.'
"And so we must decide if a president, the chief law enforcement officer of the land, the person who appoints the attorney general, the person who nominates every federal judge, the person who nominates to the Supreme Court and the only person with a constitutional obligation to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, can lie under oath repeatedly and maintain it is not a breach of trust sufficient for impeachment.
"The president is the trustee of the nation's conscience and so are we here today. There have been many explosions in our committee hearings on the respective role of the House and Senate. Under the Constitution, the House accuses and the Senate adjudicates.
"True, the formula language of our articles recites the ultimate goal of removal from office, but this language doesn't trump the Constitution, which defines the separate functions, the different functions, of the House and the Senate.
"Our Founding Fathers didn't want the body that accuses to be the same one that renders final judgment, and they set up an additional safeguard of a two-thirds vote for removal. So despite protests, our job is to decide if there is enough evidence to submit to the Senate for a trial.
"That's what the Constitution says, no matter what the president's defenders say. When Ben Franklin, on September 18, 1787, told a Mrs. Powell that the founders and framers had given us a republic if you can keep it, perhaps he anticipated a future time when bedrock principles of our democracy would be mortally threatened as the rule of law stands in the line of fire today.
"Nothing I can think of more clearly illustrates that America is a continuing experiment, never finished; that our democracy is always a work in progress. Then this debate today . . . for we sit here with the power to shake and reconfigure the charter of our freedom, just as the founders and framers did. We can strengthen our Constitution by giving it content and meaning, or we can weaken and wound it by tolerating and thus encouraging lies under oath and evasions and breaches of trust on the part of our chief executive.
"The president's defenders in this House have rarely denied the facts. They have not seriously challenged the contention of the independent counsel that the president did not tell the truth in two sworn testimonies. They have not seriously attempted to discredit the facts brought before the committee by the independent counsel. They've admitted, in effect, he did it. But then they've argued that this does not rise to the level of an impeachable offense.
"This is the 'so-what' defense, whereby a chief executive, the successor to George Washington, can cheapen the oath, and it really doesn't matter.
"They suggest that to impeach the president is to reverse the result of national election, as though Senator Dole would become president.
"They propose novel remedies like a congressional censure that may appease some constituents and certainly mollify the press but, in my judgment, betray a lack of seriousness about the Constitution, the separation of powers and the carefully balanced relationship of checks and balances between Congress and the president that was wisely crafted by the framers.
"A resolution of censure, to mean anything, must punish if only to tarnish his reputation. But we have no authority under the Constitution to punish the president. It's called separation of powers.
"As you know, we've been attacked for no producing fact witnesses. But this is the first impeachment inquiry in history with the Office of Independent Counsel in place, and their referral to us consisted of 60,000 pages of sworn testimony, grand jury transcripts, depositions, statements, affidavits, video and audio tapes.
"We had the facts and we had them under oath.
"We had Ms. Lewinsky's heavily corroborated testimony under a grant of immunity that would be revoked if she lied.
"We accepted that and so did they. Else why didn't they call any others whose credibility they questioned as their own witnesses? Now there was so little despite on the facts, they called no fact witnesses and have even based a resolution of censure on the same facts.
"Let's be clear. The vote that all of us are asked to cast is, in the final analysis, a vote on the rule of law.
"Now the rule of law is one of the great achievements of our civilization, for the alternative is the rule of raw power. We here today are the heirs of 3,000 years of history in which humanity slowly, painfully, at great cost evolved a form of politics in which law, not brute force, is the arbiter of our public destinies.
"We are the heirs of the Ten Commandments and the Mosaic Law, a moral code for a free people, who, having been liberated from bondage, sought in law a means to avoid falling back into the habits of slaves.
"We are the heirs of Roman Law, the first legal system by which peoples of different cultures, languages, races and religions came to live together in a form of political community.
"We are the heirs of the Magna Carta, by which the free men of England began to break the arbitrary and unchecked power of royal absolutism. We're the heirs of a long tradition of parliamentary development in which the rule of law gradually came to replace royal prerogative as a means for governing a society of free men and women.
"We're the heirs of 1776 and of an epic moment in human affairs, when the founders of this Republic pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honors. Think of that . . . sacred honor to the defense of the rule of law.
"We are the heirs of a hard-fought war between the states, which vindicated the rule of law over the appetites of some for owning others. We are the heirs of the century's great struggles against totalitarianism, in which the rule of law was defended at immense cost against the worst tyrannies in human history.
"The phrase 'rule of law' is no pious aspiration from a civics textbook. The rule of law is what stands between all of us and the arbitrary exercise of power by the state. The rule of law is the safeguard of our liberties. The rule of law is what allows us to live our freedom in ways that honor the freedom of others, while strengthening the common good.
"The rule of law is like a three-legged stool. One leg is an honest judge, the second leg is an ethical bar, and the third is an enforceable oath. All three are indispensable to avoid political collapse.
"In 1838, Abraham Lincoln celebrated the rule of law before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Ill., and linked it to the perpetuation of American liberties and American political institutions. Listen to Lincoln, from 1838: Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well-wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the revolution never to violate in the least particular the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others. As the patriots of '76 did to support the Declaration of Independence, so the support of the Constitution and laws, let every American pledge his life, his property and his sacred honor. Let every man remember that to violate the law is to trample on the blood of his father and to tear the character of his own and his children's liberty.
'Let reverence for the laws be breathed by every American mother to the lisping babe that prattles on her lap. Let it be taught in the schools, seminaries, colleges. Let it be written in primers, spelling books, almanacs. Let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls and enforced in the halls of . . . in the courts of justice.'
"So said Lincoln.
"My colleagues, we have been sent here to strengthen and defend the rule of law not to weaken, not to attenuate it, not to disfigure it. This is not a question of perfection; it's a question of foundations.
"This isn't a matter of setting the bar too high; it's a matter of securing the basic structure of our freedom which is the rule of law.
"No man or woman, no matter how highly placed, no matter how effective a communicator, no matter how gifted a manipulator of opinion or winner of votes, can be above the law in a democracy. That is not a counsel of perfection. That is a rock-bottom, irreducible principle of our public life.
"There's no avoiding the issue before us, much as I wish we could. We are, in one way or another, establishing the parameters of permissible presidential conduct.
"In creating a presidential system, the framers invested that office with extraordinary powers. If those powers are not exercised within the boundaries of the rule of law, if the president breaks the law by perjury and obstructs justice by willfully corrupting the legal system, that president must be removed from office.
"We cannot have one law for the ruler and another law for the ruled. This was once broadly understood in our land. If that understanding is lost or if it becomes seriously eroded, the American democratic experiment and the freedom it guarantees is in jeopardy. That and not the fate of one man, or one political party, or one electoral cycle is what we're being asked to vote on today.
"In casting our votes we should look not simply to ourselves, but to the past and to the future. Let's look back to Bunker Hill, Concord, Lexington. Let's look across the river to Arlington Cemetery where American heroes who gave their lives for the sake of the rule of law lie buried. And let us not betray their memory.
"Let's look to the future, to the children of today who are the presidents and members of Congress of the next century. And let's not crush their hope that they too will inherent inherit a law-governed society.
"Let's declare unmistakably [that] the perjury and obstruction of justice disqualify a man from retaining the presidency of the United States.
"There is a mountain of details which are assembled in a coherent mosaic in the committee report. It reads like a novel, only it's nonfiction. It really happened. And the corroboration is compelling. Read the report and be convinced.
"What we're telling you today are not the ravings of some vindictive political crusade but a reaffirmation of a set of values that are tarnished and dim these days, but it is given to us to restore them so our ounding athers would be proud.
"Listen, it's your country. The president is our flag bearer.
"He stands out in front our people when the flag is flowing. Catch the falling flag as we keep our appointment with history.
Then Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), the ranking minority member of the Judiciary Committee, began the defense of the president, first Minority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.):
Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.): "[T]his vote today is taking place on the wrong day, and we are doing it in the wrong way.
"I am disappointed and I am saddened by the actions of the majority in both the timing and in the method that we are considering the most important act that the Constitution asks us to perform.
"The actions of the majority, in my view, show a lack of common sense and decency and is not befitting of our beloved House. As I said yesterday, when our young soldiers, men and women, are in harm's way.
"We should not be debating and considering and talking about removing our commander-in-chief. If we believed that this would go on for days and days, I could understand the decision to go forward today. I do not believe it will go on for days and days. And I believe that we send the wrong message to [Iraqi resident] Saddam Hussein and to the British and to the Chinese and to the Russians to be on the floor of this House today when we could be here Sunday or Monday or Tuesday.
"I guess I'm worried also that some of us don't want to be inconvenienced. Our young people are inconvenienced today who are in the Persian Gulf. They're being shot at and they stand in danger. And with all my heart, I believe the least we could do is postpone this debate to a different day.
"But I know I've lost that debate, and the decision has been made. We are here. Let me address the way this is being done. But before I do that, I want to say something else.
"The events of the last days sadden me. We are now at the height of a cycle of the politics of negative attacks, character assassination, personal smears of good people, decent people, worthy people. It's no wonder to me and to you that the people of our country are cynical and indifferent and apathetic about our government and about our country. The politics of smear and slash and burn must end.
"This House and this country must be based on certain basic values: respect trust fairness forgiveness.
"We can take an important step today back to the politics of respect and trust and fairness and forgiveness.
"Let me talk about the way we are doing this and how that can be that first step.
"We have articles of impeachment on the floor of this house. This is the most radical act that is called for in our Constitution. In this debate, we are being denied a vote as an alternative to impeachment for censure and condemnation of our president for the wrongful acts that we believe have been performed.
"We all say that this is a vote of conscience. You get to vote your vote of conscience, and I respect that right. All we're asking for is that we get to vote our conscience.
"And it's not just our conscience. It's the conscience of millions of Americans who share this view. I know what you say you say that the Constitution does not allow this vote of censure.
"Constitutional scholars in the hundreds, some of the most respected conservative constitutional scholars have opined in the days before in the committee and through articles and through speeches that in their view the Constitution does allow this vote; that the Constitution is silent on this question of what else we an do; that the Constitution in no way prevents us from doing this.
"What do I conclude? I can only conclude that you don't want our members to have this choice. I can only conclude that some are afraid of this vote. I can only conclude that this may be about winning a vote, not about high-minded ideals.
"Let me, if I can, go back to the values respect, fairness, trust, forgiveness. We need today to begin, in the way we do this, to practice a different kind of politics.
"We need to stand today as a unified body, Republicans and Democrats, liberals, moderates, conservatives, rejecting raw, naked partisanship and putting in its place a politics of trust and respect and decency and values.
"We need to turn away from extremism and inquisition and return to a sense of moderation in our political system. We are considering articles of impeachment that allege an abuse of power. We have an obligation not to abuse our power.
"We need to turn back . . . we have another chance . . . the chance is still there . . . before our nation and our democracy have become inalterably and permanently degraded and lowered.
"The great judge Learned Hand once said that no court can save a society so riven that the spirit of moderation is gone. Today, I believe the majority is pursuing a path of immoderation, disregarding even a consideration of the wishes of a vast majority of the American people regarding penalizing this president with censure and not impeachment....I ask the majority one last time to reconsider what you are doing.
"We are deeply offended in all sincerity from my heart we are deeply offended by the unfairness of this process. You are asking us to consider the most important act the Constitution calls on us to do. We are considering overturning the free choice and vote of over almost 50 million Americans. We are considering the most radical act our Constitution allows. We are considering changing the balance of power and the proportionality of the branches of our government.
"You are doing this in a way that denies millions of Americans the trust and respect for our views that we afford to you and that we feel we deserve and our Constitution guarantees. In your effort to uphold the Constitution, you are trampling the Constitution.
"In Lincoln's Gettysburg Address he prayed this prayer, that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom and that this government of the people, by the people, for the people, should not perish from this earth.
"I pray today that you will open up this people's House and let the people's voice come in and let fairness reign."
Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R-Ark.): "As our Founding Fathers warned, this is an issue that divides us and stirs the passion of the great people of this country. I know my fellow Arkansans are divided on the issue of impeachment, and for these reasons it is argued that we should find an easier way out of this present trouble; that we should put it off; we should turn aside. But, as we all know, the easy way is not always the right way.
"The difficult path is to follow the Constitution, but that is the oath we all took in this chamber, and I have faith that the path James Madison marked will lead us out of these woods.
"Mr. Speaker, I support the resolution that is being offered. I will focus my attention on Article I. This article charges that on August 17, William Jefferson Clinton willfully provided false testimony to a federal grand jury. . . .
"The first article is perjury before the grand jury. There are three questions.
"What are the facts? What is the law? And is it impeachable under the Constitution? The facts are that a federal civil rights lawsuit was filed by another citizen of the United States against the president. The Supreme Court said that lawsuit could pursue. In January of 1998, a deposition was taken and the committee found that the president, despite being told by the judge to answer the questions, lied under oath in order to protect himself from that lawsuit.
"At that point, a criminal investigation was begun with the approval of the United States attorney general, and as a result of that investigation, President Clinton agreed to testify before the federal grand jury investigating these allegations.
"Prior to his testimony, we all recall that there was a uniform warning across this land by his aides, by the public, for the president, whatever you do, do not lie to the grand jury.... [D]espite these warnings, the committee found that the president went before the grand jury, took an oath to tell the truth, and then intentionally provided false statements to the grand jury of citizens charged with a heavy responsibility.
"The article specifically charges the president lied about his relationship with a subordinate employee. He provided false statements about the truthfulness of his prior testimony.
"He falsely testified about statements made by his attorney in a previous lawsuit. False statements were made about his efforts to corruptly influence the testimony of witnesses.
"And so there were perjurious statements that were given. . . . The president certainly understood the gravity of his testimony and the expectation of truthfulness. At the beginning of his testimony, he was asked if he understood that he had to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and that if you are to lie or to intentionally mislead the grand jury, you could be prosecuted for perjury or obstruction of justice, and the answer was, 'I understand.' But is it impeachable? And the answer is yes. . . .
"The facts establish a pattern of false statements, deceit and obstruction. And by committing these actions, the president moved beyond the private arena of protecting personal embarrassing conduct and his actions began to conceal, mislead and falsify . . . invaded the very heart and soul of that which makes this nation unique in the world, the right of any citizen to pursue justice equally.
"The conduct obstructed our judicial system and that became an issue, not a personal concern, but of national consequence. The Preamble to our Constitution in the second purpose says it is to establish justice. It is not for the president or his lawyers to determine who can or cannot seek justice, and if the president lied under oath in a federal civil rights case, then he took it upon himself to deny the right of a fellow American, in this case, a fellow Arkansan, equal access to seek relief in the courts.
"The president's lawyers have declared such a lie to be a small one, of small consequence, and therefore not impeachable. But I cannot see how denying the rights of a fellow citizen could be considered a small consequence."
Rep. David Bonior (D-Mich.): "To force an impeachment vote is to completely ignore the will of the American people. The people of this country support the president just as they have supported him through two elections and throughout his presidency. He is doing the job they elected him to do. It is a grave mistake to rush forward with impeachment like a runaway train heading for a cliff.
"Why can't we just pause for a second? Why can't we stop right here and come to our senses? The American people have made it very clear they oppose impeachment. They are looking for another solution, a just solution, a solution that condemns the president's wrongdoing, yet enables America to put this sorry spectacle behind us and get on with the country's business; a solution that brings us together as a nation, not one that divides us.
"Censure: This is the one option the Republican leadership refuses to consider. They won't even let us vote on it. . . . Members on both sides of the aisle support censure. And I dare say if it was made in order, it would pass.
"Yet the Republican leadership in this House is so angry, so obsessed, so self-righteous they are refusing a true vote of conscience.
"This is wrong; it is unfair; it is unjust. A time when events in the world and the challenges at home demand that we stand united, censure is the one solution that can bring us together.
"To my colleagues across the aisle I say, let go of your obsession. Listen to the American people. Stop hijacking the Constitution.
"We shouldn't be having this debate now while our troops are in battle, but if, if you insist on ramming this matter through at any cost, give us the opportunity, give the country the opportunity to express themselves on censure.
"If you cannot set aside partisan politics until our troops are safe, at least . . . at the very least . . . let us have a clean vote of conscience and let us bring America together once again."
Rep. Martin Frost (D-Tex.): "There are three issues involved here today: the unfairness of this proceeding, the timing of this action and the merits of whether or not to impeach the president.
"Let's start with the fundamental unfairness of this proceeding. The Republicans have denied the House the opportunity e on censuring the president, even though a clear majority of the American public believes the president should be censured for his conduct, but not removed from office. . . .
"Secondly, the Republican majority, by starting this proceeding today while we are engaged in military action against Saddam Hussein, sends entirely the wrong message to Saddam and to the rest of the world.
"We have a great bipartisan tradition of supporting the commander-in-chief and supporting our sailors, soldiers and airmen in the time of war. That tradition is being shattered today by a partisan majority . . .
"We may be encouraging [Saddam Hussein] to resist longer by our actions in the midst of war. Starting this proceeding today may wind up costing American lives.
"The majority may well have blood on its hands by starting this proceeding today. We certainly could have waited until Monday to pursue this proceeding, giving our military time to pursue its mission.
"That brings me to the question of the merits. The Republican majority is trivializing the U.S. Constitution and setting a terrible precedent by pressing for impeachment on these particular grounds. What Clinton did was wrong, but it does not rise to the level of an impeachable offense. If we make every member of this House rumored to have been involved in an affair subject to a $40 million special prosecutor and then hold him accountable for any misstatement of fact, we may be faced with a number of empty seats in this chamber.
"We should reserve impeachment for those rare instances that undermine our form of government and threaten the essence of democracy. It should not be used as a club by a partisan majority that dislikes a particular president."
Rep. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.): "Somewhere along the way, some in this House forgot that Bill Clinton is our president, not your personal enemy. The Constitution is not a license to destroy a president because you don't like him.
"I believe the president's actions were reprehensible and worthy of condemnation, but the clearest, most appropriate way to send the message about this president's behavior is censure. . . . A censure would put an indelible scar upon the president's place in history, something we all know this president cares about deeply. It is a tough, just and appropriate punishment. It would not absolve the president of any future indictment and prosecution of alleged perjury.
"Impeachment, however, should not be used as a form of supercensure. Far from . . . upholding the rule of law, a vote for impeachment under these circumstances weakens and undermines the rule of law turning our Constitution into an unfair political tool."
Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.): "This House is launched on a historically tragic case of selective moralizing. By the history of this country, the appropriate response to lying about a consensual sexual affair would be censure.
"When Ronald Reagan's secretary of defense was indicted for perjury by an independent counsel and pardoned by George Bush, members on that side applauded the action.
"When Speaker Gingrich was found to have been inaccurate 13 times in an official proceeding to the House Ethics Committee, he was reprimanded and simultaneously reelected speaker with the overwhelming vote of members on that side.
"That's why we believe censure is appropriate.
"The American people also believe censure is appropriate. And let me agree with those who say that simply because a large number of the voters believe something, we are not obligated to vote for it. I welcome the assertion that we have an obligation not always to follow public opinion.
"But while we have the right not to vote for something just because there is overwhelming public support, in a democracy you have no right not to vote on it. You have a right to stand honestly and say, I disagree with censure. Members have no right to hide behind a partisan leadership and not take a position.
"The public has a right, on this overwhelmingly important issue, to have the preferred option that the public supports voted on. That's the abdication of democracy. It's not that you have to support what the public wants, but you can't hide from it in a democracy.
"Why will you not take a position on censure? If you have the votes to defeat it, don't use partisan pressures and threats to keep it from being voted on. Do not deny the American public a recorded vote on their notion of what ought to be done, particularly since your own behavior in the case of Caspar Weinberger, in the case of Newt Gingrich, clearly makes it understandable that censure and not impeachment is relevant.
"And the final point is this: Members on the other side understand that people think throwing someone out of office is too harsh, and we have a stunningly illogical game going on. First, to get votes for impeachment from people who know that the public doesn't want it, they downgrade impeachment.
"Impeachment is not throwing the president out of office, the chairman says. Impeachment doesn't end the process, it simply sends it to the Senate. What have they already begun to do? They plan, having degraded impeachment and claimed it is no definitive judgment, once they get a partisan vote for an impeachment where the bar has been lowered, then to say that's the basis for resignation.
"First, impeachment will be insignificant. It will simply be the beginning of the process. But having used that partisan power and the power of the right wing in the country to get an impeachment through after they have dumbed it down in significance, they will turn around and use the fact that they got that impeachment as a club to try to drive the president from office.
"First, impeachment will simply be very little, and then it will be an enormous amount. You cannot de facto amend the Constitution by that distortion of impeachment and then use it to try to drive a president out of office when you know that's an inappropriate sanction for his behavior."
Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.): "Benjamin Franklin spoke of impeachment as an alternative to assassination. Today, this body is contemplating a constitutional assassination. Driven by a naked partisan,it may not make sense, but this seems to be what she said almost without lawful and civil bounds, the Republican majority is moving to impeach an elected president."
Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.): "There are some members in this chamber that seem to have forgotten history. We were at war in Vietnam when the hearings on the impeachment of President [Richard] Nixon occurred. That was because of the serious offenses that were alleged against President Nixon. Today, we're proceeding because of the serious offenses alleged against President Clinton."
Rep. Ed Bryant (R-Tenn.): "[W]hile the polls seem to show one thing, they also seem to show that many people would like this president to resign, in fact a majority of the people polled. . . . [B]ut we can not govern this country by polls.
"We have to be responsible today, it's not our job to create or invent solutions beyond the authority of this House."
Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.): "In its 1974 Watergate inquiry, the House Judiciary Committee conducted an exhaustive examination of the constitutional history of the impeachment power.
"Then on a broad, bipartisan basis, the committee adopted a report which eloquently states the constitutional standard for use by the House of Representatives of its impeachment power.
"In the committee's words, only that presidential misconduct which is seriously incompatible with either the constitutional form and principles of our government or the proper performance of the constitutional duties of the office of the presidency will justify impeachment. The facts now before the House, which arise from a personal relationship and the efforts to conceal it, simply do not meet that standard.
"While the president's conduct was reprehensible, it did not threaten the nation. It did not undermine the constitutional form and principles of our government. It did not disable the proper functioning of the constitutional duties of the presidential office. These facts simply do not meet the standard.
"To misuse the impeachment power in this case, as some are now prepared to do, will create a national harm. The divisions on the subject which now exist within our society will harden and deepen. A rift and a divide will occur. There will be a polarization. The president and the Congress will be diverted from their urgent national business, while prolonged proceedings take place in the Senate.
"There will be a lowering of the standard for future impeachments, with an inherent weakening of the presidential office. There will probably be instability in the financial markets, with adverse effects for the economy. These harms are unnecessary. The president's conduct was deplorable, but it was not impeachable.
"The House today should censure the president for bringing dishonor on the presidential office. That path will bring closure and a restoration of national dignity."
Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.): "America is sick. Her heart is heavy. Her soul is aching, and her spirit is low. Today our nation stands at a crossroads, at the intersection of participatory democracy and the politics of personal destruction.
"Today, my colleagues, you must choose, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., wrote, between community and chaos. You must choose the course of partisan destruction or national reconciliation.
"We will in our lifetime never cast a more important vote. The spirit of history is upon us and the future of the republic before us. Our obligation as citizen of the state are as old as human history and as fresh as the morning dew: o right a wrong, do justice and love mercy.
"Our Constitution, that sacred document, is a covenant, a contract between the government and those who are governed. We must not, we cannot ignore the will of the people. Almost 50 million people elected Bill Clinton as our president, in spite of his problems, his shortcomings and his failures.
"They, the people, elected Bill Clinton president of the United States and they want him to remain the president of the United States. And yet some, even in this chamber, have never accepted the verdict of the people. They have never accepted Bill Clinton as their president. Instead, they embark on a crusade of personal destruction.
"Our Constitution was never intended to be used as a hammer to destroy our political enemies. . . . Some of our colleagues have been too quick to pick up the hammer of impeachment and swing it with reckless abandon. So bent are they on the destruction of this president, that they would knock down the very pillars which support our constitutional system.
"What President Clinton did was wrong. About that, there can be no mistake. There is no disagreement, no debate. But how, my colleagues, how, my colleagues should we respond? How we respond, how we act says as much about us and our character as it does about his.
"Let he who has no sin cast the first stone.
"Who among us has not sinned?
"What the president did was wrong, but it simply does not rise to the height or sink to the depths of an impeachable offense."
John Conyers (D-Mich.): "[W]e're confronted with an overzealous and nonindependent counsel report, combined with a totally politicized process in the committee, with party-line votes on nearly every issue.
"And so I want to remind you that I am witnessing, in the most tragic event of my career in the Congress, in effect a Republican coup d'etat in process. We are using the most powerful institutional tool available to this body . . . impeachment in a highly partisan manner. Impeachment was designed to rid this nation of traitors and tyrants, not attempts to cover up extramarital affairs.
"This resolution trivializes our most important tool to maintain democracy. It downgrades the impeachment power into a partisan weapon that can be used with future presidents. Perhaps hopefully, we may never, ever use impeachment again after this experience.
"Now I'm personally outraged that we would decapitate the commander-in-chief at a time when we are at war abroad. Republicans sacrifice the national security by doing so. To be spending time in this House to smear our commander in chief when brave men and women are risking their lives for their country shocks the conscience.
"The failure by the Republican majority to allow a censure alternative shows again the perversely partisan process this is. And I've been a member here for some time, and I cannot recall a single occasion when the Democrats denied the Republicans the ability to offer an alternative on a matter as momentous as this. . . . on has been pushed to the edge of a constitutional cliff. We are about to inflict permanent damage on our Constitution, on our president, on the nation and ourselves. We should not be here today and history will not look kindly on the partisan passions that have brought us to this point."
Rep. Robert Barr (R-Ga.): "[O]ur Constitution stands in harm's way. The rule of law in America is under fire. The rule of law about which our chairman, Mr. Henry Hyde, spoke so eloquently just a few short moments ago; the rule of law which finds its highest and best embodiment in the absolute, the unshakable right each one of us has to walk into a courtroom and demand the righting of a wrong.
"As President John F. Kennedy so eloquently put it: "Americans are free to disagree with the law, but not to disobey it; for a government of laws and not of men, no man, however prominent and powerful, no mob, however unruly or boisterous, is entitled to defy a court of law."
"If this country should ever reach the point where any man or group of men, by force or threat of force, could long defy the commands of our courts and our Constitution, then no law would stand free from doubt, no judge would be sure of his writ, and no citizen would be safe from neighbors.
"This, Mr. Speaker, is the fundamental American right which President William Jefferson Clinton tried to deny a fellow citizen.
"How did he do it?
". . . Despite the fact that, in the ears of lay person, obstruction might conjure up a massive frontal assault, in the world of law . . . obstruction of justice is much more insidious, much more implied, much quieter, but nonetheless destructive of the rule of law in this country.
"What is obstruction? And what was the pattern of obstruction in this case?
". . . Such things as making statements to his secretary after he gave sworn testimony in an effort, a very clear effort, with no other purpose than to influence the testimony of his secretary, who most assuredly would have been and was called as a grand jury witness.
"Evidence such as the president calling and directing one of the most powerful attorneys in this city, Mr. Vernon Jordan, after it was found out that Monica Lewinsky would indeed be and had been subpoenaed as a witness to appear before the court, and direct that she be found a job.
"Evidence such as the president, the commander in chief, as we have heard today, picking up a telephone at 2 a.m. . . . the very day that he found out that Ms. Lewinsky was indeed a named witness and would be a witness in the court case of Paula Jones, and going over with her to reaffirm in her mind the stories . . . the cover stories that they indeed had agreed to if just this calamity would befall them.
"These, I submit to every member of this House, are obstruction.
"They are indeed a frontal assault on our Constitution."
Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Tex.): "Gentlemen, you've heard the argument that our military forces are fighting. You know what they're fighting for? They're fighting to uphold the Constitution and the oath that we took and they took. You know, when the president stands before God, puts his hand on the Bible and takes an oath to uphold the Constitution and lawfully carry out the duties of his office, he is promising to put the people and the nation before his own interest.
"I believe the president violated the laws and beliefs he swore to uphold. Instead of following the law, respecting American people's values and honoring his office he chose to lie, cover up and evade the truth.
"His actions have made a mockery of the people who fought for this country . . . and are fighting for this nation today the Constitution and the laws we live under. And because of the president's actions, Congress must act as dictated by the Constitution.
Hyde: "The gentlemen has some familiarity with our military service. Did you serve in the Vietnam War?"
Johnson: "Yes, sir, and the Korean one, if you want to call it . . ."
Hyde: "And the Korean War. How much time did you spend in the prison camp in Hanoi or in Vietnam?"
Johnson: "Nearly seven years, sir."
Hyde: "How many?"
Johnson: "Nearly seven years."
Hyde: "Seven years in the POW camp?"
Hyde: "In solitary?"
Johnson: "Yes, sir, three years of that."
Hyde: "Well, I think you're qualified to talk about the military service. Thank you."
Johnson: "Well, I want to tell you that . . . Thank you. I want to tell you that our military fighting men want the Congress to carry on their constitutional responsibility every day. That's why we're here.
"You know maybe we ought to be debating right after this issue how we support our military, and give them more arms and more people to make sure they can win that battle.
"We can't sacrifice what is right to do what is easy. You know, when I was a POW, I did some things that were tough to do. This is a tough thing to do, but it's the right thing to do and I suggest we continue with this impeachment process."
Rep. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.): "Unless a miracle occurs, we will take one of the most serious and rare actions that this body can assume, and impeach the president against the overwhelming will of the American people. Voting against these articles will be my last act.
"Since September, I've said what the president did was reprehensible and should be punished. I also argued that lying about an extramarital affair, even under oath, does not rise to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors as spelled out in the Constitution, and that the proper punishment is censure, not impeachment.
"But today my colleagues, my last day in the House that I cherish, I ask myself: What has brought us to this day? It would be easy for Democrats to lay the blame on a narrow band of right-wing zealots out to destroy Bill Clinton. It would be convenient for Republicans to lay the blame squarely at the feet of the president for his behavior.
"But this goes much deeper than that. What began 25 years ago with Watergate as a solemn and necessary process to force a president to adhere to the rule of law, has grown beyond our control so that now we are routinely using criminal accusations and scandal to win the political battles and ideological differences we cannot settle at the ballot box.
"It has been used with reckless abandon by both parties . . . Democrats and Republicans. And we are now at a point where we risk, deeply risk, wounding the nation we all love.
"We cannot disagree, it seems. We cannot forcefully advocate for our positions without trying to criminalize or at least dishonor our adversaries . . . often over matters having nothing to do with public trust. And it is hurting our country; it is marginalizing and polarizing this Congress.
"I want to be clear. I am not pointing fingers at Republicans. The Democrats investigated John Tower for allegations not too dissimilar from allegations against the president. Congressman [Newt] Gingrich led the investigation which brought down Speaker [Jim] Wright. And Speaker Gingrich was investigated and brought down as well.
"The ledger between the two parties is pretty much even.
"Today, we are upping the ante.
"The president could be removed from office over a matter that most Americans feel doesn't come close to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors as written in our Constitution. . . . I expect history will show that we've lowered the bar on impeachment so much . . . we have broken the seal on this extremely extreme penalty so cavalierly that it will be used as a routine tool to fight political battles.
"My fear is that when a Republican wins the White House, Democrats will demand payback."
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.): "Perjury is a serious crime and if provable should be prosecuted in a court of law. But it may or may not involve the president's duties and performance in office.
"Perjury on a private matter, perjury regarding sex, is not a great and dangerous offense against the nation. It is not an abuse of uniquely presidential power. It does not threaten our form of government. It is not an impeachable offense.
"The effect of impeachment is to overturn the popular will of the voters. We must not overturn an election and remove a president from office except to defend our system of government or our constitutional liberties against a dire threat.
"And we must not do so without an overwhelming consensus of the American people. There must never be a narrowly voted impeachment, when impeachment is supported by one of our major political parties and opposed by the other. Such an impeachment will produce divisiveness and bitterness in our politics for years to come and will call into question the very legitimacy of our political institutions.
"The American people have heard the allegations against the president and they overwhelmingly oppose impeaching him. They elected President Clinton. They still support him. We have no right to overturn the considered judgment of the American people. . . . [T]his is clearly a partisan railroad job. . . . This partisan coup d'etat will go down in infamy in the history of this nation."
Rep. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.): "[W]hat brought us here is not partisanship but the conduct of one man who happened to be the president, who happened to be elected by the people and given the most solemn responsibility in the nation to be the chief law enforcement officer of the land, and he failed miserably in that responsibility and he deserves to be impeached based on what he did not what I think about him, not how I voted, but what he did. . . .
"[U]nfortunately the president lied in January to injure Paula Jones. He lied to the federal grand jury to injure the federal court system in this case. And I think the facts are overwhelming that he gave false, misleading and perjurious testimony to the Congress as part of our inquiry.
"And let me tell you how that is similar to the Nixon case. Article III of impeachment against Richard Nixon, the article was based on the idea the Richard Nixon as president failed to comply with subpoenas of Congress. Congress was going through its oversight function to provide oversight of the president. When asked for information, Richard Nixon chose not to comply and the Congress back in that time said you are taking impeachment away from us. You're becoming the judge and jury. It is not your job to tell us what we need; it is your job to comply with things we need to provide oversight over you.
"The day Richard Nixon failed to answer that subpoena is the day that he was subject to impeachment because he took the power from Congress over the impeachment process away from Congress, and he became the judge and jury.
"And the day that William Jefferson Clinton failed to provide truthful testimony to the Congress of the United States is the day that he chose to determine the course of impeachment. He usurped our power. He abused his authority. He gave false information."
Rep. Thomas M. Barrett (D-Wis.): "Our Constitution does not allow us, no, it does not allow you, to remove a president from office because you can't stand him. That's not an unfair allegation.
"It's not an unfair allegation, because the vast majority of the people voting for impeachment today voted to reelect our speaker, even though he had submitted information, false information, to the Ethics Committee of this House, the judicial branch of this House. Even though the speaker had submitted false information to the judicial branch of this House, the majority of people here voted to reelect him as speaker.
"It's not an unfair allegation, because when the secretary of defense under President [George] Bush was duly indicted by a federal grand jury for perjury and he was pardoned by the president of the United States, George Bush, the silence on this side of the aisle was deafening. There were no claims from this side of the aisle that this was injustice. There were no claims that somehow our military would be damaged. There were no claims that somehow the pillars of democracy were damaged by perjury by the secretary of defense.
"There is one difference, and only one difference, between the false allegation submitted by Speaker Gingrich and the perjury allegations against the secretary of defense and the president of the United States. And that difference is he is a Democrat.
"He is a Democrat and so we're going to go after him."
Rep. Charles T. Canady (R-Fla.): "It is inaccurate to compare the situation involving the speaker of the House with the case that's now before us. It is admitted that the speaker submitted inaccurate information. There's no question that that was admitted. But the Ethics Committee did not find that the speaker was guilty of intentionally submitting false information. That was a finding that was not made.
"And in the case before us, there is a critical distinction. In the case before us, there is overwhelming evidence that the president of the United States willfully, time after time after time, lied under oath. It's a very, very different case than the submission of inaccurate information by the speaker."
Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.): "If I believed that the conduct of this president had threatened our nation's security or undermined the operations of our government or put at risk the principles of our democracy, I would vote to impeach.
"But I am convinced that is not the case, and therefore I will vote against, as I hope all my colleagues will, these articles of impeachment."
Rep. James Rogan (R-Calif.): "It is both a falsehood and it is unfair to characterize these articles of impeachment as relating solely to consensual sex. That is not the case. Lawyers didn't just show up one day and begin to question the president's personal lifestyle. The president was a defendant in a civil rights, sexual harassment lawsuit. And just like every other defendant in those type of cases around the country, he was ordered by a federal judge supervising that case to answer under oath questions relating to his pattern of conduct as both governor and president with respect to female subordinate employees. That is the context in which the questions were asked, and that is the context in which perjurious answers were given.
"And now in a desperate, last-ditch attempt to insulate this president from any constitutional accountability for his conduct, his defenders are forced to trivialize felony perjury. How trivial is perjury to the person who loses a child custody case or goes to prison because perjured testimony was offered as the truth in a court of law? What is the impact on our system of justice when perjury is marginalized or excused for embarrassment, inconvenience or to insulate oneself, as was done here in a sexual harassment case.
"Listen to the words of the United States Supreme Court on the subject of perjury: 'In this constitutional process of securing a witness's testimony, perjury simply has no place whatsoever. Perjured testimony is an obvious and flagrant affront to the basic concepts of judicial proceedings. Congress has made the giving of false answers a criminal act, punishable by severe penalties. In no other way can criminal conduct be flushed into the open where the law can deal with it.' "
Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.): "After examining and weighing all of this evidence and testimony, I believe that the president lied under oath, obstructed justice and abused the power of his office by providing false statements to Congress in response to questions submitted by the Judiciary Committee.
"On Wednesday of last week, I asked the president's very able attorney, Charles Ruff, a very simple question. Did the president lie? Mr. Ruff could easily have said no. Instead he split legal hairs and that sealed my decision to support impeaching President Clinton. . . .
"I take no joy in this decision, but I make no apologies, either. America will emerge from this dark period of our history a stronger nation because we have demonstrated once again the resiliency of our democracy and the supremacy of our Constitution. . . and reserve the balance of my time."
Rep. Thomas Bliley (R-Va.): "Either we are a nation of laws or we are a nation of men. If we are a nation of laws, then the highest and the lowest are subject to the same law. There is no preferential treatment and we and our Constitution grants none.
"The president, in my opinion, obstructed justice. He attempted to cover up. To say this is just about sex is to say that Watergate was just about a third-rate burglary. Nothing is further from the truth.
"This president sought to cover up a crime. And if we allow this to stand without the ultimate punishment which is afforded the Constitution, which charges us as the people's body to make, we have not done our duty and history will so remember."
Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.): "If we dumb down impeachment and make it easier for future Congresses to impeach presidents, we will forever weaken the institution of the presidency. . . . To impeach for anything less than the highest of crimes is a distortion of the Constitution and hands a tremendous weapon to our present and future enemies, who will point to a weakened president and ultimately a weakened nation. That is why the Founding Fathers knew that low crimes should wait, that the strength of our national leader, the sovereignty of our nation, trump all but the gravest of charges: hose which subvert our government."
Rep. Tom Campbell (R-Calif.): "I have been here since the debate began and there is no contesting the facts. No speaker really has refuted the facts.
". . . The facts are that the president did not tell the truth under oath on Aug. 17 and on other occasions, but specifically . . . on Aug. 17. And let me address why that matters so much and why that rises to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors.
"Because it undermines my ability to trust this president whenever he says anything to me or to anyone else, if it is in his interest not to tell the truth. And that's what brings this above the level of a common violation of law to a high crime and misdemeanor because it incapacitates him from effectively serving as our president. . . .
"Today, we are engaged in war in the Persian Gulf.
"I was assured by [Defense] Secretary William Cohen and by the director of our Central Intelligence Agency [George Tenet] that the timing was justified. Those are honorable men. And because of their testimony, I believe the timing was justified. But I do not believe it was justified because of what President Clinton has said, because I can no longer believe him. . . .
"Now there are some who say that I should not draw that conclusion because this merely dealt with sex, and so perhaps I should only doubt his ability to tell the truth in the future, even if he's looking me in the eye, even if he has sworn to God to tell the truth, even if it is a federal criminal grand jury, because he will only fail to tell the truth if it deals about sex.
"I cannot tell you how deeply that wounds me because of the importance I have always attached throughout my public career on the fair and equal treatment of women. And to say that it only deals with sex is to denigrate, to put at a lower level the seriousness of the offenses felt by virtually every woman in our society at least one point in her working career. Sexual harassment is not just about sex. And to say that sexual harassment and denying the truth to a plaintiff in a sexual harassment case is somehow less important is to denigrate the harm that women in America feel every day when they go into the workplace and they are treated less because they are women."
Rep. Vic Fazio (D-Calif.): "I'm sad that a reckless president and a Republican Congress driven by blind animus for him have brought us to this moment in history. This is a moment where legalism reign over human understanding and acknowledgment that we are all sinners before our Lord. And it is even more unfortunate that this debate takes place when our troops are in harm's way.
"My instinct is to stand here and plead with you to consider the ramifications of what we'll do, but I fear this vote is a foregone conclusion. Sadly it seems to have more to do with our political affiliations and loyalties than anything else. And it must be said that what we do here today is to some degree driven by revenge. . . .
"It's much more difficult to govern here now, to do what is right for this country at this time, to look not to legalisms and parsed interpretations so valued on all sides, but to place the actions of our president in the proper context, to censure those actions without undeniably and irrevocably harming our democracy by lowering the threshold of impeachment. But we won't allow that vote today."
Rep. Barbara Kennelly (D-Conn.): "[N]o honor will rain on this House today if we vote to impeach. Let's be honest with ourselves. A vote to impeach on the basis of the facts and materials assembled by the Office of the Independent Counsel is a vote to lower dramatically and unalterably the bar to future impeachments.
"Until now, the House has very much held a high standard for impeachment, keeping with the constitutional dictum that impeachment be reserved exclusively for high crimes and misdemeanors. . . . Collectively, our predecessors in this body understood fully both the necessity of impeachment as the ultimate bulwark against the potential tyranny of the executive, but also the very real threat of impeachment it presents to the structure of our government if improperly or too readily used. Impeachment was the means of last resort."
Rep. Kenny Hulshof (R-Mo.): "Based upon my solemn review of the evidence and historical precedents, I am firmly convinced beyond a doubt that William Jefferson Clinton used every conceivable means available to him, including perjury and obstruction, to defeat the legal rights of another citizen who claims she'd been wronged and who sought redress from our justice system. And in that way, the president's private indignities became indignities against the Constitution by which we're governed."
Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-Conn.): "Above the entrance to the Supreme Court are four powerful words: "Equal Justice Under Law." Yet there can be no equal justice without a judicial process capable of reaching to the truth. That's why when one raises their right hand and swears to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, each one of us must do it. That's why perjury is a serious crime. It strikes at the heart of the only process that protects each one of us from false accusations.
"I will vote for impeachment not because the president has human frailties, but because he has committed perjury repeatedly and willfully."
Rep. Joseph Kennedy (D-Mass.): "What we're doing here on the floor today and throughout the night is just wrong. . . . [A]t its core this is about an individual, a man in our country who had a wrongful affair. He lied about that affair, and he has asked for forgiveness. What's incredible is the American people have looked into their conscience and found that forgiveness. . . . There's only one group of people that I can find that can't find that forgiveness, and that is people that have been locked in struggle over so many questions dealing with the future of this country against President Clinton's agenda over the course of the last four years. And that's what this is all about. . . . The president has put the wood to the Republicans time and time again. He's taken away the issue of crime. He's taken away the issue of taxes. He's taken away so many of the issues that you in the past have had leadership roles on. And so you get angry at him. That's okay OK. You can get angry at him. But to dumb down the impeachment process and to allow this to be used not just by you, but by people who will serve after me, certainly, and people that will serve after everybody in this institution, and allow this to be utilized in a partisan political manner is an immoral act on the part of the Republican Party."
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.): "I rise today in opposition to the articles of impeachment. My opposition to impeachment has nothing to do at all with Bill Clinton, but everything to do with the office of the presidency. By setting a standard which goes beyond the Constitution and, my Republican colleagues, beyond the historic position of our party, we are however well-intentioned, continuing our spiral toward a government subject to the whims of independent counsels and based on the frenzied politics of the moment, rather than a government of immutable principles and transcendent institutions.
"This is not a decision which came easy to me. It's not a position which I particularly enjoy. No one has a higher respect than I do for Henry Hyde. To me, he is the conscience of this House and it causes me great pain to in any way differ with him. But I feel I have no alternative. I strongly believe that for a president to be impeached, a president of the United States to be impeached, for an election to be undone, there must be a direct abuse of presidential power. There must be a president abusing the CIA; abusing citizens to the IRS or the FBI; a crime comparable to treason or bribery. . . .
"But there's even a larger issue here. Where are we going as a nation? And quite frankly, when I hear members on the other side rise up in such opposition to this impeachment, I say: Where were they during the times of Robert Bork or Clarence Thomas or John Tower? But two wrongs don't make a right. We are a nation consumed by investigations, by special counsels. We are a nation consumed by scandal. We are driving good people from government.
"And what we're talking about here in this case, the president's conduct was illegal, it was immoral, it was disgraceful, it's indefensible. But the fact is, I don't believe it rises to the level of treason or bribery.... Also, I would ask my fellow Republicans, throughout the 1980s, we saw the abuses of special counsels by Lawrence Walsh and others, as they went against members of the Reagan and Bush dministrations. We saw good people like Elliott Abrams brought down on the flimsiest of charges involving lying. And all of us knew it was wrong and we railed against it. But today, somehow we're willing to apply a different standard, a different principle. And that's wrong."
Rep. Bill McCollum (R-Fla.): "[T]hose of us on our side of the aisle do not view this as a partisan issue. In fact, as Republicans, it is not in our political interest to see the president of the United States impeached and removed from office. The last thing in the world we would want politically . . . is to see . . . Vice President Gore, assume the presidency and be in the office for a while to have combat and to have established that position for the year 2000 elections.
"We do believe in principle. We are concerned about what's going to happen to our court system, and what the message would be of failing to impeach. And that's why we are so ardent about this."
Rep. Carrie P. Meek (D-Fla.): "[A] man who has served this country very well is now up for impeachment. Too many of you have a "gotcha" syndrome. You want to do your best to get Mr. President. . . . You haven't liked him from the very beginning. I have tried to find out why. You dislike him, but you can't get him the manner in which you tried before, so now you're going to use this gonad-driven impeachment process to try and get him. It's unfair, it's tainted.
"I have some familiarity with this unfairness and injustice that we see in this country. You cannot escape it. Every American knows that this impeachment process is partisan. if you look at the votes of the very good judiciary hearings you had . . . I watched it, I read everything I could . . . it is partisan. It goes against the history of this country.
"The Republican majority has chosen time and time again to exclude the Democrats. We are asking only for a chance for censure. That's what we're asking for. It doesn't mean we're going to win that, but at least you could give us that opportunity. You are out of touch with the people of this country, you are out of touch with the Constitution."
Rep. Sue Myrick (R-N.C.): "Just before the November 3rd election, my 5-year-old grandson Jake asked his mother if we were going to be electing a new president and upon being told no, we already have a president, Jake replied, "No, we don't. He lied." You know, such principles from the mouths of babes.
"As sad as this is for our nation, this action is necessary so that all of us can continue to not only uphold but teach those basic truths and basic right and wrong in our houses and most assuredly in this House.
"Yes, to err is human, but to lie and deny and vilify rather than that, we need to confess and repair and repent. Just remember, the children are watching."
Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.): "[U]nderlying the pending Clinton impeachment is neither sex nor lying nor perjury, but American history itself. Essentially the same economic and political forces that drove the presidential impeachment process against Andrew Johnson in 1868 are driving the impeachment process 130 years later.
"There has been a role reversal. The Republicans of 1998 were the Democrats of 1868, but the underlying issue is essentially the same . . . reconstruction. The first reconstruction was at issue in 1868. The second reconstruction is at issue in 1998.... Today's conservative-based Republican target is not Bill Clinton, it's second reconstruction, especially the liberalism of Democratic President Lyndon Baines Johnson, but also ultimately including the big government economic programs of FDR.
"Let us not be confused. Today Republicans are impeaching Social Security, they are impeaching affirmative action, they are impeaching women's right to choose, Medicare, Medicaid, Supreme Court justices who believe in equal protection under the law for all Americans.
"Something deeper in history is happening than sex, lying about sex and perjury. In 1868, it was about reconstruction and in 1998, it's still about reconstruction."
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