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Harkin's Letter to Rehnquist

The Associated Press
Saturday, January 23, 1999

Letter Saturday from Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) to Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist regarding a federal district judge's ruling on interviewing Monica Lewinsky:

Dear Mr. Chief Justice:

I am writing you on a matter of significant constitutional consequence. I ask you, as presiding officer of this Court of Impeachment, to issue an order in protection of this court's "sole power to try impeachment" to prohibit any questioning by or on behalf of the House Managers of any witness pursuant to the January 23, 1999, order of the District Court Judge Norma Holloway Johnson. Such questioning would violate the Senate's sole authority under Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution to try impeachments and would be a clear violation of the procedures adopted unanimously by this Senate for the conduct of this trial. It is up to the Senate, not the Independent Counsel or any Article III district judge, to determine the procedures under which the House Managers or White House Counsel may interview witnesses.

In support of my request, I cite the Supreme Court's opinion in U.S. v. Nixon, wherein the Supreme Court held, and I quote: "The first sentence in Article I, Section 3 is a grant of authority to the Senate, and the word 'sole' indicates that this authority is reposed in the Senate and nowhere else. ...Judicial involvement in impeachment proceedings, even if only for purposes of judicial review, is counterintuitive because it would eviscerate the 'important constitutional check' placed on the Judiciary by the Framers."

As the Independent Counsel may be interviewing Ms. Lewinsky as early as tomorrow morning, I ask that you give prompt consideration of this matter. Thank you for your consideration of my request.


Tom Harkin
United States Senator

© Copyright 1999 Associated Press

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