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Rep. Lindsey Graham Questions Starr

  • More Transcripts From the Hearings

  • By Federal News Service
    Thursday, November 19, 1998

    REP. HYDE: The gentleman from South Carolina, Mr. Lindsey Graham.

    REP. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    If you can handle a couple more, we're about at the end here.

    One thing I've learned, Judge Starr, about impeachment -- it's becoming more and more clear to me -- I asked a question before to myself, really, is this Watergate or "Peyton Place"? And I learned that I dated myself, because no one in my office knew what "Peyton Place" was about. (Laughter.) So it should have been "Melrose Place," I suppose.

    But one thing -- one thing I've learned is without -- we can talk academically and legalistically about crimes and punishment, but without public outrage, impeachment is a very difficult thing, and I think that is an essential component of impeachment. I think that is something that the Founding Fathers probably envisioned. But the most bizarre thing to me, in these odd times in which we live, that the public outrage is directed at you and not at the person who has allegedly done all these things. And let me talk about that person for a second.

    Is it Watergate or "Peyton Place"? I can remember Watergate pretty well because I was in high school. And as I look through this, you've got Mr. Hubbell, who is about to come testify or offer evidence to the government. Then you have a cast of characters on behalf of the president -- maybe on his behalf, but I can't -- that's a bad term; I don't know if it's on his behalf or not, but they're certainly acquaintances of the president -- friends, donors and benefactors -- drop about $550,000 on this guy to do business for them, and he's getting ready to go to jail. The last time I checked, when you're getting ready to go to jail, marketability goes down. So I find it very difficult for me to sit here and believe that that amount of money going to that man at that time wasn't an orchestrated effort by somebody to get him to shut up, to avoid one of the messes that the Clintons had created because the land deal went bad. But you're telling me you can't lay that at the feet at the president, so I'm going to be stuck with that.

    We have now evidence about Kathleen Willey, a lady who says that she went to the president when times were bad to ask for a job and something bad happened. And whether she's telling the truth, the president's telling the truth, I don't know. But if she is telling the truth, that tells me a lot about William Jefferson Clinton.

    Now you give me some information that an individual close to the president asked her to come down to his place, and now he takes the Fifth Amendment about what he did with her.

    We have files turning up in the White House that you've been looking for a couple of years, that nobody can find, and a copy of them is in the loft of a dead guy. And you're telling me you can't lay this at the feet of the president.

    Now we'll go to what -- I think that's Watergate stuff.

    The Dick Morris secret-police unit for Bruce Lindsey and other people who have been loyal to the president, and some private investigators; if you don't like Linda Tripp and I can understand that, decent people over there, you shouldn't like either. The more you know about them, the less you'll like.

    But this is not about liking anybody; this is about the law. And as much as I dislike the president politically and as much as I wonder about who he is and what kind of people represent him, we are going to play it straight. And we are going to play it straight, folks.

    If I bring you two perjurers, does it matter if one confessed and the one put the State through the pain and expense of a trial and punishment? Does that matter, Judge Starr, as a judge? Don't you take that in consideration?

    MR. STARR: I certainly think it's a relevant consideration to -- whether someone accepts responsibility or else, you know, as some pundit put it, "It's the seven months, stupid."

    REP. GRAHAM: The point I am trying to make --

    MR. STARR: And I did not mean to direct that -- (laughs) -- but I was just quoting the pundit. (Laughter.)

    REP. GRAHAM: Right. (Laughs.)

    MR. STARR: That's what --

    REP. GRAHAM: Right.

    MR. STARR: Yeah. (Laughs.) It's what the nation was put --

    REP. HYDE: I think we heard you right, Judge Starr. (Laughter.) That inflection was important.

    MR. STARR: -- that it was what the nation was put through.

    REP. GRAHAM: I have heard a lot from pundits, and I'd rather try to focus on the facts to be honest with you.

    The point I am trying to make is that the law that you cherish and I cherish, and I think we all love, allows for you to treat people differently based on what they lied about. That's not a bad thing to talk about. Every perjurer doesn't get the same punishment.

    That's the concept that we are going to have to deal with here. Without public outrage, impeachment is hard to do, and it should be hard to do. And the truth of the matter is, Judge Starr, we may never get public outrage on behalf of what the president did because some of the things that are Watergate-like, we can't lay at the feet of the president. But what he did do is he lied through his teeth in a civil deposition. And I am going to disagree with you about the legal effect.

    When the judge ruled that his deposition was not admissible, I have a problem of materiality in terms of perjury. And I am going to disagree with you, and I am going to stick by my word for the last two months. I am not going to consider that an impeachable offense because I don't think legally you would probably get prosecuted for that, or you'd have a heck of a hard time once the case was dismissed and your testimony was deemed inadmissible. And I may be wrong, but I am going to give him the benefit of the doubt.

    But I am telling you right now, it is Peyton Place what we're left with. But the Cover-Up Peyton Place is going to the point that I no longer can ignore it and feel good about it because I believe the president of the United States went into a grand jury, in front of your grand jurors, took an oath, and six and seven months after this whole affair started, after being begged by everybody in this country to come clean, lied again.

    REP. HYDE: The gentleman's time has expired.

    The gentlelady from California, Ms. Bono.

    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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