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Dec. 9: Chairman Hyde and the Schedule

  • More Transcripts From the Hearings

  • By Federal News Service
    Wednesday, December 9, 1998

    REP. HYDE: The committee will come to order. If the panel would be kind enough to turn their name plates around. You know who you are. We'd like to know who you are. (Laughs.) Thank you very much. Good morning.

    The committee will come to order. Today we'll hear from the fourth panel of witnesses. Panel witnesses will each have 10 minutes to make a statement. After the testimony of the witnesses, members will be allowed to ask questions for five minutes. I ask that the members please pay attention to their time and be aware that their questions should be asked and answered within their five minutes. The reason for that is it takes over three hours to cover their members under the five-minute rule. And so, to make this meaningful, we have to watch our time.

    Now, immediately following this panel, the committee will receive the testimony of White House Counsel Charles Ruff. After his presentation, members will question Mr. Ruff under the five-minute rule. After the members have questioned, the committee counsel may question Mr. Ruff.

    Thursday morning, tomorrow morning, we'll have a presentation by minority chief investigative counsel Abbe Lowell at 9:00 a.m. and a presentation by chief investigative counsel David Schippers at 1:00 p.m. Immediately following Mr. Schippers, we will begin consideration of a resolution containing articles of impeachment for our deliberation. We will hear opening statements from all members Thursday evening.

    Friday we will begin consideration and debate of articles of impeachment. I want to -- by way of informing the minority and the majority, these matters are all still under discussion, works in progress. But I am -- at this point my thinking is to provide a 10- minute allocation for every member to make an opening --

    REP. : Could you say that again? I couldn't hear it. I couldn't hear you, Mr. Chairman.

    REP. HYDE: Okay. My present thinking is to allow 10 minutes for each member to make an opening statement so that you can prepare for that. I think 10 minutes is adequate and balanced. I also know that you would like copies of any articles of impeachment that we may have. Let me just suggest to you they are still works in progress. We think it improper, improvident to issue any documents until we've heard the testimony. And changes are occurring as we speak. But as soon as we have a document that we feel fairly is a working draft that we can stand behind, we will get it to you.

    REP. BOBBY SCOTT (D-VA): Will the gentleman yield?

    REP. HYDE: I certainly will yield.

    REP. SCOTT: As you know, Mr. Conyers and I wrote a letter asking for the specific articles to be available at least 48 hours before we have to take action on them. It seems to me that if we're going to consider the factual basis and go through the record to determine what the facts are and to propose amendments and to determine whether or not the specificity they actually constitute impeachable offenses, that we would need some period of time. And 48 hours before we start having to deal with them, I think, is a minimum amount of time. If we have 48 hours before we have --

    REP. HYDE: But the actual amendment process would not begin until Friday morning, and we'll try to get you something early afternoon today. But they're still being drafted. And I'm willing to provide working papers and nothing more. We will give you a workable draft, fairly solid in terms of the final product, early afternoon today. And we won't need the amending process till Friday morning.


    REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): Would the gentleman yield?

    REP. HYDE: Yes.

    REP. JACKSON LEE: I think you answered the question. If there were a desire to amend or to add to or to distract from this process of working together on these, it is an open process?

    REP. HYDE: You mean, you want to help us draft articles of impeachment?

    REP. JACKSON LEE: In the spirit of bipartisanship, I want to know if the opportunity is open.

    REP. HYDE: Oh, indeed. The amendatory process will permit you to draft them any way you'd like, and we'll give them full consideration.

    REP. JACKSON LEE: Or undraft them.

    REP. HYDE: Oh, yes, undraft.

    REP. JACKSON LEE: And the final question, Mr. Chairman, is, as you well know, the votes will probably come very late in the day or possibly Saturday. Would we have an opportunity for an explanation of our votes before we would vote?

    REP. HYDE: Well, I originally thought five-minute opening statement and then five minutes at the end of the final vote, but I'm persuaded by one of your members that a 10-minute opening statement is probably the procedure of choice. So we will all have plenty of opportunity to talk. And a 10-minute opening statement, I hope, will suffice. And then at the end we can vote and get -- as the phrase goes, get this behind us.

    REP. JACKSON-LEE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    REP. JAMES SENSENBRENNER (R-WI): Would the gentleman yield?

    REP. BARNEY FRANK (D-MA): Mr. Chairman, I --

    REP. SENSENBRENNER: Would the gentleman yield?

    REP. FRANK: Let me say, I think you've done an adequate amount of time. My guess is that by the end, the opportunity we will have to explain ourselves will substantially outpace the interest anyone has in hearing our explanation.

    REP. HYDE: I want to associate myself with the sentiments of the gentleman from Massachusetts.

    REP. SENSENBRENNER: Would the gentleman yield?

    REP. HYDE: Yes.

    REP. SENSENBRENNER: Also in the spirit of bipartisanship, can we get a commitment on the Democratic side that the majority will have copies of amendments in advance so that we can prepare arguments, and also any resolution of censure that the Democrats may offer?

    REP. HYDE: Well --

    REP. FRANK: Mr. Chairman?

    REP. HYDE: Just a second. First of all, they have to have the document so they can know how to amend it --

    REP. SENSENBRENNER: I'm aware of that.

    REP. HYDE: -- or amendments. So that would come first. Then I'm sure they would give us their proposed amendments in adequate time for us to study them. The gentleman --

    REP. FRANK: Well, two things. First, I think obviously there's a major resolution that could be done. But I would have to say, and while it may be possible to do some of the amendments, as the gentleman (knows?), because he's an able legislator, sometimes you do decide during the process, because of the ebb and flow of the argument, that you might want to offer an amendment. So I think that's an undertaking I think you can try, but I would never be able to commit --

    REP. SENSENBRENNER: Would the gentleman yield?

    REP. FRANK: Yes, I would yield.

    REP. SENSENBRENNER: How about the censure resolution? Can we get a copy of that, just like you're asking for a copy of our --

    REP. FRANK: I'll trade you a copy of it for a vote on it on the floor.

    REP. SENSENBRENNER: Well, I think -- if the gentleman would yield further, you know, I think that, you know, we've been dealing in good faith in saying that we'd give you copies of the proposed articles in advance. I would hope that the gentleman from Massachusetts would seriously consider reciprocating with any proposed censure resolution that the Democrats propose.

    REP. FRANK: Yeah, let me say, first of all, I'm speaking, of course, in the absence of the ranking minority member. But, yes, if there's a censure resolution ready, I'm sure people will be --

    REP. HYDE: I have no doubt that we'll have mutual exchanges of documents. Mr. Rothman.

    REP. STEVE ROTHMAN (D-NJ): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'm concerned about the response from Judge Starr to the questions raised by --

    REP. HYDE: We've written him a letter.

    REP. ROTHMAN: If I may just finish, Mr. Chairman.

    REP. HYDE: Oh, I'm sorry. I was trying to anticipate your question.

    REP. ROTHMAN: I saw yesterday -- it was distributed -- a copy of a letter under your signature and Mr. Conyers' signature asking Judge Starr to answer the questions that had been previously forwarded by the Democratic minority and others. And you had indicated that you would hope he would have them by the end of the week.

    I would certainly hope -- and, first of all, I very, very sincerely appreciate the chair's efforts in getting these answers to these questions. I believe Judge Starr indicated during his testimony he would be happy to provide them. Then he wrote back and said, well, he wasn't sure if he would, subject to both parties agreeing. Now that the chair and the ranking member have put it in writing, I'm hopeful that the chair will be able to get from Judge Starr these answers before we debate and before we vote.

    REP. MARTY MEEHAN (D-MA): Would the gentleman yield?

    REP. HYDE: I contend they're not much help if we've already had the debate and vote.

    REP. ROTHMAN: Precisely.

    REP. HYDE: So we will attempt to move that process along. I don't like to be giving deadlines to anybody, but we --

    REP. ROTHMAN: Mr. Chairman, if I may just finish my -- I just want to again repeat my thanks to the chair for taking that action.

    REP. HYDE: Well, I appreciate that very much. Thank you.

    REP. MEEHAN: The independent counsel -- we could probably save time -- he doesn't have to prepare the answers. He can just leak them to the press, who will read them. (Laughter.)

    REP. HYDE: Very good.

    REP. WILLIAM DELAHUNT (D-MA): Mr. Chairman?

    REP. HYDE: Very good.

    REP. DELAHUNT: Mr. Chairman, two --

    REP. HYDE: Wait a minute. Are you going to comment on what Mr. Meehan said? Otherwise you're not recognized for that purpose.

    REP. DELAHUNT: Well, speaking to what Mr. Meehan said, I would hope that the chair would entertain -- to address the concern of some members in terms of explanation for votes, an expanded time period for the filing of concurring or dissenting opinions.

    REP. HYDE: Well, if what you're saying means you want beyond 10 minutes for the opening statement --

    REP. DELAHUNT: No, no, I'm not talking about that. I'm talking after the committee concludes its business.

    REP. HYDE: You have two days to file minority views.

    REP. DELAHUNT: Right. I would hope, however, that the chair would entertain waiving that particular rule.

    REP. HYDE: I don't want to go into the Christmas week, Bill, I don't think. We don't want to put you against the wall, but we have to move ahead, really. Two days -- I know you can collect your thoughts in two days and express them well.

    REP. DELAHUNT: I need more time, Mr. Chairman. I don't have your --

    REP. HYDE: Consult with Mr. Meehan.

    REP. DELAHUNT: I will consult with Mr. Meehan.

    REP. HYDE: Okay. All right.

    REP. SCOTT: Mr. Chairman?

    REP. HYDE: Yes, Mr. Scott.

    REP. SCOTT: So are we going to have a business meeting sometime before the -- I have a motion pending. I guess, based on the explanation, it may not be relevant, but I'd like the opportunity to offer it whenever we can get around to it.

    REP. HYDE: All right. We do have some business to attend to. We're waiting for the propitious time to do that. So at that point we'll consider your motion, too.

    REP. SCOTT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


    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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