Judiciary Committee Report to Full House Wednesday, December 16, 1998 The House Judiciary Committee today released its report to the full House on the resolution impeaching President Clinton. Following is the full text of the introduction. Also available: the full report, including dissenting and additional views, and the text of the resolution and articles.
INTRODUCTION TO COMMITTEE REPORT
"Equal Justice Under Law" - That principle so embodies the American constitutional order that we have carved it in stone on the front of our Supreme Court. The carving shines like a beacon from the highest sanctum of the Judicial Branch across to the Capitol, the home of the Legislative Branch, and down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House, the home of the Executive Branch. It illuminates our national life and reminds those other branches that despite the tumbling tides of politics, ours is a government of laws and not of men. It was the inspired vision of our founders and framers that the Judicial, Legislative, and Executive branches would work together to preserve the rule of law.
But "Equal Justice Under Law" amounts to much more than a stone carving. Although we cannot see or hear it, this living, breathing force has real consequences in the lives of average citizens every day. Ultimately, it protects us from the knock on the door in the middle of the night. More commonly, it allows us to claim the assistance of the government when someone has wronged us -- even if that person is stronger or wealthier or more popular than we are. In America, unlike other countries, when the average citizen sues the Chief Executive of our nation, they stand equal before the bar of justice. The Constitution requires the judicial branch of our government to apply the law equally to both. That is the living consequence of "Equal Justice Under Law."
The President of the United States must work with the Judicial and Legislative branches to sustain that force. The temporary trustee of that office, William Jefferson Clinton, worked to defeat it. When he stood before the bar of justice, he acted without authority to award himself the special privileges of lying and obstructing to gain an advantage in a federal civil rights action in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, in a federal grand jury investigation in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, and in an impeachment inquiry in the United States House of Representatives. His resistance brings us to this most unfortunate juncture.
So "Equal Justice Under Law" lies at the heart of this matter. It rests on three essential pillars: an impartial judiciary, an ethical bar, and a sacred oath. If litigants profane the sanctity of the oath, "Equal Justice Under Law" loses its protective force. Against that backdrop, consider the actions of President Clinton.
On May 27, 1997, the nine justices of the Supreme Court of the United States unanimously ruled that Paula Corbin Jones could pursue her federal civil rights actions against William Jefferson Clinton. Clinton v. Jones, 520 U.S. 681 (1997). On December 11, 1997, United States District Judge Susan Webber Wright ordered President Clinton to provide Ms. Jones with answers to certain routine questions relevant to the lawsuit. Acting under the authority of these court orders, Ms. Jones exercised her rights -- rights that every litigant has under our system of justice. She sought answers from President Clinton to help her prove her case against him - just as President Clinton sought and received answers from her. President Clinton used numerous means to prevent her from getting truthful answers.
On December 17, 1997, he encouraged a witness, whose truthful testimony would have helped Ms. Jones, to file a false affidavit in the case and to testify falsely if she were called to testify in the case. On December 23, 1998, he provided, under oath, false written answers to Ms. Jones's questions. On December 28, 1997, he began an effort to get the witness to conceal evidence that would have helped Ms. Jones. Throughout this period, he intensified efforts to provide the witness with help in getting a job to ensure that she carried out his designs.
On January 17, 1998, President Clinton provided, under oath, numerous false answers to Ms. Jones's questions during his deposition. In the days immediately following the deposition, he provided a false and misleading account to another witness, Betty Currie, in hopes that she would substantiate the false testimony he gave in the deposition. These actions denied Ms. Jones her rights as a litigant, subverted the fundamental truth seeking function of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, and violated President Clinton's constitutional oath to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States" and his constitutional duty to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed."
Beginning shortly after his deposition, President Clinton became aware that a federal grand jury empaneled by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia was investigating his actions before and during his civil deposition. President Clinton made numerous false statements to potential grand jury witnesses in hopes that they would repeat these statements to the grand jury. On August 17, 1998, President Clinton appeared before the grand jury by video and, under oath, provided numerous false answers to the questions asked. These actions impeded the grand jury's investigation, subverted the fundamental truth seeking function of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, and violated President Clinton's constitutional oath to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States" and his constitutional duty to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed."
President Clinton's actions then led to this inquiry. On October 8, 1998, the United States House of Representatives passed House Resolution 581 directing the Committee on the Judiciary to begin an inquiry to determine whether President Clinton should be impeached. As part of that inquiry, the Committee sent written requests for admission to him. On November 27, 1998, President Clinton provided, under oath, numerous false statements to this Committee in response to the requests for admission. These actions impeded the committee's inquiry, subverted the fundamental truth seeking function of the United States House of Representatives in exercising the sole power of impeachment, and violated President Clinton's constitutional oath to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States" and his constitutional duty to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed."
By these actions, President Clinton violated the sanctity of the oath without which "Equal Justice Under Law" cannot survive. Rather than work with the Judicial and Legislative branches to uphold the rule of law, he directly attacked their fundamental truth seeking function. He has disgraced himself and the high office he holds. His high crimes and misdemeanors undermine our Constitution. They warrant his impeachment, his removal from office, and his disqualification from holding further office.
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