THE IMPEACHMENT HEARINGS
Dec. 10 Opening Statements: George Gekas (R-Pa.)
By Federal News Service
REP. GEORGE GEKAS (R-PA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, we've reached the moment of truth for our distinguished committee and for each member thereof. And speaking of the moment of truth, if the president had indulged in a moment of truth in that first deposition a long time ago, in January of 1998, one small moment of truth, we would not be debating this momentous issue here today. But the president chose otherwise, throwing us into this morass or trouble and distinct tumult that we've engaged in for months now.
So that moment of truth went by, was ignored, and now we're in trouble.
I say that a thousand historians and a swarm of political opinion polls and a gaggle of media programs and talk shows -- nothing -- none of those things can change the vital facts in this case, and that is that falsehoods were uttered in a court proceeding under oath, both in the depositions and later in a criminal federal grand jury.
The Starr Report, which was full of tapes, and trips, and conspiracies, and machinations of people behind the scenes, and theories of executive privilege and all of all, put it together, packaged it all, and leaping out of that are the salient facts that the president uttered falsehoods under oath in the depositions and in grand jury, and later even to the 81 questions circulated by the Committee on the Judiciary.
Now I myself, in reading and analyzing the materials of the independent counsel, came to a conclusion very early that I would not automatically adopt, as some people charge who are against impeachment -- I did not automatically approve of and fall into lock-step with the allegations by independent counsel. In fact, I made it known early to my colleagues, to the media and everyone else, that I was taken aback by the averment, the allegation in the Starr Report on the -- his allegation that the assertion by the president of executive privilege constitutes, by itself or packaged with other matters, as an abuse of power. I rejected that out of hand, and then began to solidify my thinking on it till this moment when I announce again that when the time comes in these proceedings that we will be dealing with that part of the articles of impeachment, that I will renew my objection to inclusion of the assertion of executive privilege as an abuse of power.
But still, leaping out of that mass of documents in those boxes in the Ford Building, and in all the testimony that we've had here, is the recurring theme of perjury -- perjury -- falsehood under oath. We can't escape it.
No matter what other allegations you bring in against Dave Schippers or against Abbe Lowell or against any member of the committee, and especially against the independent counsel, perjury still resounds throughout the meeting in this chamber and throughout the congressional area of the Washington, D.C. capital of the United States. Wherever we go, perjury still rings out in all of these proceedings.
When the witnesses continuously referred to it's not an impeachable offense because it is -- as some of my colleagues have said -- really based on sexual misconduct, lies about sex; that's so insignificant that we should not have bothered with it. Notwithstanding that other individuals, our fellow American citizens, are undergoing sentences imposed by the court for lying under oath about matters that you and I in our lives would consider trivial, yet they are undergoing sentences of the court.
Perjury and falsehood under oath still leaps out at us!
So when that moment of truth passed by -- the ability to end everything by the moment of truth in the depositions which passed by, there was another chance for a moment of truth preceding the one we are engaged in now, and that was at grand jury. Again, that moment of truth could have saved us the embarrassment and the humility (sic) and the indignity of having to decide the fate of the president of the United States. And that moment where truth could have prevailed, again was swept away by the motivations, however you want to ascribe them, of the president of the United States.
When I engaged in a discussion with one of the witnesses on high crimes and misdemeanors and the comparison between bribery and perjury, I was struck by the fact that they maintain -- and I think it's absolutely correct -- that if one finds bribery as an offense committed by the president of the United States, a 10-minute transaction in which either he is a "bribee" or is a "briber" passes money or receives money for something not having anything to do with national security, or not having anything to do with the conduct of his office, but an exchange of money -- bribery, 10 minutes in its duration -- could constitute grounds for impeachment.
Does anyone disagree with that? But perjury, which is viewed by scholars and these same historians who enter our premises and spout the holiness of their positions would agree, that perjury, even in our statutory law, in our common law perceptions, and in practical application of the statutes, is more serious than bribery.
And when coupled with the reality that every act of perjury strikes at the heart of the judicial system, endangers our individual rights to receive justice at the hands of our fellow citizens in the court system, then you can see that bribery, that quickly passing offense of not having to do with the national weal, all of a sudden, in the face of perjury, we cannot face the reality that that perjury, falsehood under oath, has the capacity to destroy a branch of government, two branches of government, as a matter of fact all three branches of government. If it's uttered by the president of the United States, he is diminishing the presidency, the executive branch. If he does so in a court of law, he is trampling against the walls of security that the court system provides all of us. And he injures the legislative branch because he forces upon us the indignity, I say, of having to deal with misconduct of the president that might lead to impeachment.
When all is said and done, the moment of truth will recur, and it will recur as each one of us finally indicates to the chair and to the clerk the final vote in this issue. I cannot erase from my mind or from the atmosphere of the Capitol of the United States, or from the entire land, from the entire globe, the falsehoods uttered under oath.
I yield back the balance of my time.
REP. HYDE: Thank the gentleman.
The distinguished senator-elect from New York, Mr. Schumer.
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