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Rep. Charles Schumer Questions Starr

  • More Transcripts From the Hearings

  • By Federal News Service
    Thursday, November 19, 1998

    REP. HYDE: The committee will come to order; a couple of little commentaries if I may.

    When you watch a football game on Saturday or Sunday, you notice they have a two-minute warning and these scheduled interruptions. Well, now congressional committees have the same situation. We have to give a two-minute warning to the network television, and so that's why we seem to be suspended up here, doing nothing. We are waiting for the appropriate time.

    The chair would like to announce, we are going to finish this evening. Some of you may be wondering how long we are going to go; I have no idea. But rather than come back tomorrow, we are going to do the job today.

    So I plead with my fellow members: If you have to ask a question, I hope it's a burning issue with you and not something just of idle curiosity. And I am looking at you, Mr. Delahunt. (Laughs.) (Laughter.)

    REP. DELAHUNT: I am not idly (curious ?).

    REP. SCHUMER (?): Are we going to take a supper break?

    REP. HYDE: No, we won't take a supper break. We'll go straight through. We'll keep the jury locked up --

    REP. : (Off mike) -- a burning question. (Laughter.)

    REP. HYDE: -- without food and water, right?

    REP. DELAHUNT (?): We are sequestered, I take it?

    REP. HYDE: That's right. You may send out for a pizza. (Laughter.)

    REP. DELAHUNT (?): Okay.

    REP. : For everybody. (Cross talk.)

    REP. HYDE: There will be a meeting --

    REP. : (Inaudible.)

    REP. HYDE: -- there will be a meeting after Judge Starr has completed his testimony.

    We will then have another -- we will have a full meeting of the committee to do some business on subpoenas. So just be advised.

    And now --

    REP. FRANK: If we walk around the Mall, will a police officer accompany us? (Laughter.)

    REP. HYDE: If you're walking around the Mall, I would want two police officers! (Laughter.)

    It is now a -- well, a mixed pleasure to ask the Senator-elect from the great state of New York, and one of our very valuable members whom we will miss, Charles Schumer, to interrogate -- question our witness.

    REP. CHARLES SCHUMER (D-NY): Thank you.

    REP. HYDE: Mr. Schumer. For five minutes.

    REP. SCHUMER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I will miss you and this committee -- not so much today, but for many of the other things that we have done together.

    Today -- Mr. Starr, today, after nearly five years of investigation, we conduct today's impeachment hearing having just received boxes of new documents from you office concerning Webster Hubbell, and have just learned from the chairman that we will be voting on deposing new witnesses involving the Kathleen Willey matter.

    And, Mr. Chairman, I would say this to all of us on this committee: Maybe we should hang a sign outside the Judiciary Committee that says, "Out to lunch. Gone fishing." We're out to lunch because we're so far afield of what the American people want us to do. We've gone fishing because despite a five-year fishing expedition, which has yielded nothing more than allegations revolving around a tawdry sex scandal, this committee is still trying to bait the hook.

    What has disturbed me about the twists and turns of this investigation and these proceedings is that instead of seeking justice, too many are intent on winning the war. So when there's not enough evidence for impeachment, you bring in John Huang's name or Kathleen Willey to prop up the case. And I say to my Republican colleagues that the irony is that the harder you try to win the war, the more you lose the hearts and minds of the American people.

    Now, for Mr. Starr. The OIC has basically made three allegations against the president, three types of allegations: perjury, obstruction of justice, and abuse of power -- all stemming from the president's admitted improper relationship with Monica Lewinsky.

    To me, as I have said, and you have stated in your report, it's clear that the president lied when he testified before the grand jury, not to cover a crime but to cover embarrassing personal behavior. And as I have said before, the president's actions deserve to be punished, not as a political denouement but because what the president has done is a serious matter that cannot go unanswered. However, it is clear to me that if this case, as it seems to be and as it seems clear to me, is only about sex and lying about sex, that it will never be found impeachable by Congress, nor should it be.

    As I interpret the Constitution and the Federalist Papers, an interpretation that is diametrically opposed to yours, Mr. Starr, it's obvious that this does not reach the standard of high crimes and misdemeanors as set forth in the Constitution. The innate and sound wisdom of the American people that lying about an extramarital affair should not lead to the removal of a duly-elected president from office is far more in keeping with the Founding Fathers' visions of impeachment than your legalistic arguments, Mr. Starr.

    So thus, it seems to me that if the charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice lack compelling evidence, then the vast majority of Americans and a strong majority in this House will not vote for impeachment.

    So I would like to ask you a few questions on the obstruction charge -- charges. I am not asking you about abuse of power, because that has already been rejected as out of hand by even the president's harshest critics in the Republican Party. And I'm going to ask you three sets of short questions for you to answer together. And that will be the end of my questioning, so you'll have the rest of the time to answer.

    First, on August 20th, 1998, Ms. Lewinsky testified that, quote, "No one ever asked me to lie, and I was never promised a job for my silence," unquote. That was in response to a question by a grand juror. Let me ask you again, because I know Mr. Lowell asked this, but I didn't find the answer adequate: Why wasn't this statement directly included in your 455-page referral to Congress, not in a footnote and not paraphrased? Isn't that relevant, trenchantly relevant information about what we're doing? And if you are so dispassionate about simply producing the facts, why wouldn't you have included the statement verbatim and in quotes, particularly on a matter as important as impeachment?

    Second, regarding the Lewinsky job search: If the president and his staff began to find Monica Lewinsky a job sometime after December 5th, 1997, the date she first appeared on the witness list, that might lead one to your conclusion that there was an attempt to influence her testimony.

    But since the job search began more than 18 months prior, doesn't that cast into serious doubt an obstruction argument? You are assuming that once the White House knew of the deposition of Lewinsky, their reason for getting her a job totally changed, when it seems at least as logical that the reasons remained the same, mainly that they wanted to get her away from the White House for the obvious, same reason that they did before they knew of any deposition.

    And again, shouldn't we set an impeachment bar high enough so that a fifty-fifty proposition like this does not set off a constitutional crisis? And third, and finally, on January the 18th the president had the conversation with Betty Currie. Isn't it true that on that date she was not listed as a deposition or a trial witness in the Jones case or any other case? For obstruction or subornation, the president would have to know that she was to be called as a witness.

    There's another logical reason that he didn't want Betty Currie to talk about this: he may not have wanted the press to know; he may not have wanted his family to know.

    REP. HYDE: Can you wind up, Mr. Schumer?

    REP. SCHUMER: Yes, this is my last. And again, given the weighty matter of impeachment, shouldn't there be more evidence than just your surmise that the president knew that Currie would be called as a witness? Your answers, Mr. Starr?

    REP. SCHUMER: Senator-elect and Congressman Schumer, question one, we did supply the information. The reason that you're having, of course, these questions with respect to the referral is because we produced everything that was relevant to your assessment of Ms. Lewinksy, and I stand by what we said in page 174 of the referral. I think it's fair, in light of our assessment, but your assessment, of course, may very well be different with respect to that one item.

    REP. SCHUMER: May I ask why you didn't put it in the report, in full, fully quoted?

    REP. : (Off mike) -- already asked him that, Chuck.

    REP. SCHUMER: Because we do not think that that is consistent with the truth, and it would be misleading to say -- in our judgment, and I understand you may disagree with this -- but we specifically said at page 174, not in a footnote, Ms. Lewinsky has stated that the president never explicitly told her to lie. If one finds that inadequate, then one finds it inadequate. It is your judgment.

    But we were holding nothing back. The referral contains the information. You have also the grand jury transcripts.

    I'll be very brief. With respect to the December 5, 1997, matter -- and again, this is an assessment of facts -- our professional assessment of the facts included such significant things as a great stepping-up of the efforts to get her a job, especially once the witness list issued (sic) --and the referral speaks to that in fairly elaborate detail -- and how Mr. Jordan became very active in that effort. Again, it's our assessment of the facts.

    REP. SCHUMER: There could be a reasonable assessment the other way, I presume.

    MR. STARR: Well, I've come to my assessment based upon my colleagues' -- who are professional prosecutors -- assessment of the facts --

    REP. SCHUMER: It's beyond a reasonable doubt?

    MR. STARR: Oh, no, that's -- by no means is that our standard --

    REP. SCHUMER: I understand. Thank you.

    MR. STARR: -- because, as you quite rightly note, the question is substantial and credible.

    And with respect to Betty Currie, I would simply guide the Congress again, the House again, to the substance of the president's testimony and how she was injected into the matter by the president in his testimony. And we think that does have --

    REP. SCHUMER: With all due respect sir, that doesn't answer my question --

    MR. STARR: I'm sorry.

    REP. SCHUMER: -- which was not how she was injected or what the substance was --

    REP. HYDE: The -- the --

    REP. SCHUMER: Please, Mr. Chairman. Just -- because he didn't answer my question directly.

    But how did you come to realize that the president knew that she would be called as a witness, when there was no mention of it at that time? Is this just surmised, or do you have any factual evidence that the president knew that she would be called as a witness? We understand he wanted her not to tell the truth, but we don't know to whom. Where's your evidence?

    MR. STARR: The evidence is not that she was on a witness list -- you're quite right; she was not on a witness list, and we've never said that she was -- what we did say is that the transcript of the president -- the president's January 17 deposition shows that he was injecting Betty Currie into the matter and saying -- may I finish?

    REP. HYDE: Sure.

    MR. STARR: -- and saying specifically, "You will have to ask Betty." That raises --

    REP. SCHUMER: (Off mike) -- nothing to do with the legal proceedings, sir. And that's the heart of subornation.

    REP. HYDE: All right. The gentleman's time has finally expired.

    The gentleman from North Carolina, Mr. Coble.

    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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