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Sen. Lott Statement on Impeachment

By The Associated Press
Saturday, December 19, 1998; 3:09 p.m. EST

Text of a written statement made by Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott following Saturday's House vote on articles of impeachment:

I was surprised by Bob Livingston's announcement this morning. I am not surprised, however, that Bob would put the interest of his country above any personal considerations.

The decision by the House of Representatives concerning the conduct of the president sets in motion a solemn process in the Senate of the United States. That process is governed both by the Constitution and by our rules and precedents.

At my direction, the Senate Legal Counsel has prepared an explanation of the historical background and current rules governing the Senate's impeachment proceedings. I have asked the counsel and deputy counsel -- Thomas Griffith and Morgan Frankel -- to be available for discussion of those procedures.

Senators will be prepared to fulfill their constitutional obligations. Each senator will take an oath to 'do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws, so help me God.' Because of that oath, we must be judicious in any discussions of this matter either with the House managers of the Impeachment Resolution or with the White House.

There are steps that precede the beginning of an impeachment trial. Once the Senate is organized as an independent proceeding, there will be pleadings and motions that come before the taking of evidence. That makes it difficult, at this time, to determine when an actual trial will begin. The timing will depend greatly on the president and his lawyers.

In the weeks ahead, the Senate will address issues of great concern to the American people: making our schools the best in the world; preserving and strengthening Social Security; reducing both their tax burdens and the nation's debt; protecting the long-term future of Medicare; and reforming Congress' own budget process. So if the pre-trial period is prolonged, the Senate will have ample legislation to advance toward enactment. We will attend to the people's business.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

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