THE IMPEACHMENT HEARINGS
Rep. Ed Please Questions Starr
Thursday, November 19, 1998
REP. ED PEASE (R-IN): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Starr, it's just recently been asserted that it was the Secret Service, and not the president, that asserted the novel notion of a protective privilege.
But as I understand it, the president's personal attorney Mr. Bennett filed papers in the Jones case, which said among other things, quote, "President Clinton through undersigned counsel, emphatically expresses his support on behalf of himself, the Office of the Presidency, and all past and future presidents, for the motion for a protective order filed by the United States Secret Service in this matter," end quote.
I'd appreciate your comment on that quote and whether that assertion of a privilege affected your pursuit of the facts in this matter?
MR. STARR: Yes. It is my understanding that there was in fact an embracing of the asserted privilege. And, yes, in my investigation -- our investigation, it was a source of material and considerable delay, and an enormous amount of litigation that ultimately went, as we all know, to the Supreme Court of the United States, when each judge who looked at it at the lower courts determined that there was no legal basis for the creation of the privilege under Rule 501.
As I said in my opening statement, I think it was a very weak claim. It was not crafted -- and I think this is important for the people to understand -- it was not crafted to simply the protect the president. Rather, the privilege that was asserted was the protective-function privilege under Rule 501 of the Federal Rules of Evidence, which looks to the common law, the experience of courts.
It was a very broad and sweeping, but unmeritorious, claim. We had to litigate it. It also prevented our getting timely evidence from people whom we needed it from.
REP. PEASE: Thank you, Mr. Starr.
Earlier today, I believe it was my colleague from Tennessee -- pointed out that in the case of the grand jury testimony, your referral was -- probably made a stronger statement than it did in some of the other matters, when it said, categorically, that the president gave false and misleading testimony under oath.
Can you summarize for us the factual basis for that conclusion?
MR. STARR: Yes. I tried to do this in the opening statement to say that -- for example, the relationship with Ms. Lewinsky, the activities in terms of when they were together and the circumstances of their being together; the circumstances with respect to Mr. Jordan, and the responses with respect to whether Mr. Jordan and the president had had conversations about certain subjects.
As we outline in the opening statement, I think in specific detail after specific detail there is very substantial reason to believe that the president did in fact not tell the truth under oath, and is contradicted, very substantially, we believe, by other undisputed evidence.
REP. PEASE: One of the -- thank you, Mr. Starr. One of the questions that was raised earlier, and for reasons that I understand from the chair we didn't go into, our colleague from California raised the whole issue of the credibility of witnesses as you drew your conclusions that were sent to us.
But I would like to address, at least for a few moments, the issue of the credibility of Ms. Lewinsky. And we know, from your statements and others, that she made false statements. She was granted immunity, then made other statements. Why is it that we should believe some of those statements on which you rely, and we should not believe other statements that we know to have been false?
MR. STARR: Yes. The reason is corroboration. And I quite agree, a statement by a witness who has been known to lie should in fact be, then, examined and checked, and so you look at other evidence, and does the evidence corroborate it? And her evidence was very powerful and, indeed, we thought compelling, as I tried to mention earlier.
When she could say that she was alone with the president -- he denied being alone -- that he received a phone call from a Florida sugar-grower whose name sounded like "(Anwell?)", and it was very close, including the time -- so we would check telephone records, and the like, movement logs, and we elaborately and thoroughly documented all of those issues for the very reason that a number of the witnesses in this matter had questions with respect to their credibility. That's why you don't go with the witness statement alone; you look to see what other evidence, if any, there is to corroborate, and here there was overwhelming evidence to corroborate.
REP. PEASE: Thank you, Mr. Starr.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. HYDE: The gentleman from Wisconsin, Mr. Barrett.
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