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Judiciary Committee Letter to White House

Sunday, December 6, 1998

Following is the text of a letter from House Judiciary Committee General Counsel Thomas Mooney to the White House counsel's office.

Dear Messrs. Ruff and Craig:

I am in receipt of your two letters of December 4th in which you request that Members forego questions of your presentation and propose to call additional nonfactual witnesses.

In the interests of giving the White House every benefit of the doubt, the Chairman is willing to accommodate your requests, subject to two limitations. First, your requests must comply with the Impeachment Inquiry Procedures that the Committee adopted by voice vote on October 5. Second, the Committee will not undermine its goal of resolving the inquiry this year.

You have consistently ignored the rules adopted by the Committee; rules that you have been aware of for nearly two months. More than seven weeks ago, Committee counsel met with you and explained the privileges that the Committee extended to the White House. Ten days ago, Chairman Hyde reminded the President of the White House's obligation to give the Committee the appropriate notice under those procedures. When your response failed to follow those procedures, you were given an additional two days to respond. Once again, you have failed to comply with Committee procedures and demonstrated contempt for the Committee's process. I am concerned that your recent maneuvers may be little more than an attempt to delay the Committee and turn attention away from the facts before it.

The rules are quite clear. Procedure (A)(3) states:

Should the President's counsel wish the Committee to receive additional testimony or other evidence, he shall be invited to submit written requests and precise summaries of what he would propose to show, and in the case of a witness, precisely and in detail what it is expected the testimony of the witness would be, if called.

Procedure (B)(3) states that "Committee counsel shall commence the questioning of each witness and may also be permitted by the Chairman or presiding Member to question a witness at any point during the appearance of the witness." Of course, the members of the Committee who are conducting the impeachment inquiry will be permitted to ask questions of anyone who appears before the Committee. I might remind you that this is the fifth time that the Committee has informed the White House of its procedures.

The Committee has already heard from more than thirty witnesses who testified on the constitutional standards for impeachment and the significance of perjury. The Committee has also allowed counsel for the President to personally question the Independent Counsel about any alleged prosecutorial misconduct. Nonetheless, the White House will be permitted to present those witnesses that are approved after you have submitted the names of the proposed witnesses and "written requests and precise summaries of what he would propose to show, and in the case of a witness, precisely and in detail what it is expected the testimony of the witness would be, if called" as required under the Committee's procedures. To preserve the opportunity to present witnesses, you must submit this information by noon on Monday, December 7. You must also submit the name of the counsel that will make a presentation on the President's behalf by noon Monday. The counsel for the President and any approved witnesses that he suggests will be subject to questioning by all of the Members and counsel for the majority and minority.

The White House will be given two entire days to present its case-Tuesday, December 8 and Wednesday, December 9 from 9:00 a.m. to midnight (this gives the White House up to 30 hours to present its case). As the President's counsel prepares his own final presentation to the Committee, please keep in mind that he will need to begin his testimony no later than 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday to allow for questioning by Members and counsel. The presentation by the White House must be completed on Wednesday night so that the Committee can stay on its course to resolve this matter by the end of the year. On Thursday morning, the Committee will hear a presentation by Chief Minority Counsel Abbe Lowell. On Thursday afternoon, Chief Investigative Counsel David Schippers will make a presentation. Opening statements on consideration of articles of impeachment will begin Thursday night, and the debate will continue into Friday.

Sincerely,

THOMAS E. MOONEY
Chief of Staff-General Counsel

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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