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Rep. Mel Watt Questions Starr

  • More Transcripts From the Hearings

  • By Federal News Service
    Thursday, November 19, 1998

    REP. MEL WATT (D-NC): Mr. Chairman, I wanted to make a parliamentary inquiry --

    REP. HYDE: Yes, sir.

    REP. WATT: -- before I start the five minutes, because i have some questions to ask Mr. Starr about information that has been given to the committee and has not been released to the public. If I ask questions about that, would I be in violation of the rules?

    REP. HYDE: The parliamentarian tells me you can ask the question, but you can't refer to the material.

    REP. WATT: Okay. I will --

    REP. HYDE: I don't know how you do that. (Laughter.)

    REP. WATT: I'll tread very lightly, Mr. Chairman.

    REP. NADLER: Mr. Chairman, if you'll permit me, I think it means you don't say you're referring to the material. You don't identify the material, you just ask the question.

    REP. WATT: I'll tread very lightly, and if the chairman thinks that I'm outside the bounds, I'm sure somebody will call it to my attention.

    REP. HYDE: The gentleman is recognized for five minutes.

    REP. WATT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I'd like to thank Mr. Starr for coming over. I enjoyed your speech very, very much.

    MR. STARR: Thank you.

    REP. WATT: Let me just be clear on one thing, though, about this. On pages 55 to 57 of your testimony, you give us information that clearly is within your personal knowledge. That's your biographical information. I was following you through the rest of this, and I think it's been implicitly said, but not explicitly said. Is it correct that you don't have personal knowledge of anything that's related -- I mean, you've got some opinions, you've reviewed the stuff. I respect those, but as far as personal knowledge, and your knowledge of this information as a person, I take it you would say you don't have any personal knowledge.

    MR. STARR: In the large main, you're absolutely right, Congressman Watt.

    REP. WATT: Okay, thank you. Let me go back then briefly to a point Mr. Gallegly raised -- and I don't want to get into the credibility -- you assessing the credibility of witnesses, because as the chairman pointed out when Mr. Gallegly tried to get you into that, that's not a place that you need to be. That's really a place for us, I take it, to assess the credibility of witnesses who know the facts.

    Would you agree that the credibility of the president and Betty Currie and Monica Lewinsky would be important for us to evaluate in this committee in any respect?

    MR. STARR: Yes, Congressman Watt, it does seem to me --

    REP. WATT: Then I want to -- if you agree with that, there are a couple of things that you failed to include in your referral that seem to me to bear very directly on the credibility of Ms. Lewinsky. And these are the issues that I was concerned about, because they are not public yet.

    MR. STARR: I see.

    REP. WATT: One is the testimony of a woman who is a vice president, apparently, at Revlon, a woman by the name of Nancy Risden (ph), who said to your interviewers during her statement, that Ms. Lewinsky had told her that she had lunch with Hillary Clinton the previous week, and that Ms. Clinton had offered her help in finding an apartment in New York. Are you familiar with that?

    MR. STARR: Yes.

    REP. WATT: You didn't send that information over with your referral. I take it that would have a major bearing on the credibility of Ms. Lewinsky's testimony, at least it would for me, if she made that kind of representation, which I think is just completely off the reservation, so to speak.

    MR. STARR: May I respond?

    REP. WATT: I'm going to give you a chance to respond. I want to ask the other one.

    MR. STARR: Thank you.

    REP. WATT: The second occasion which you failed to give us in your referral, was the interview of a woman named Katherine Profitt (ph), who testified that Ms. Lewinsky had exaggerated to her, the depth of her relationship -- Ms. Lewinsky's relationship -- with a young man at the Department of Defense. Are you familiar with that, Mr. Starr?

    MR. STARR: I"m not familiar with that specific item. I think I'm not --

    REP. WATT: But you're aware it's in the information you've sent over.

    MR. STARR: I'm not quarrelling at all. Right.

    REP. WATT: That seems to me also would go directly to the credibility of Ms. Lewinsky as a witness. Yet, neither one of those pieces of information was included with your referral. And I'm wondering how you went about picking and choosing the things. I mean, the chairman has referred to you as an independent counsel, not an independent prosecutor. There is some question about that. But what I'm concerned about, is why didn't we get the information that we need to make the kind of credibility judgments as members of this committee, a full evaluation of credibility from your office, when you made this referral?

    MR. STARR: Congressman Watt, I believe that you do have the information, and we might assess the information, the relevancy of it, differently. Let me be very specific. Ms. Lewinsky made it quite clear that she knew how to lie. She was encouraging others to lie. She also says -- and this is in the referral --

    REP. WATT: So now you're impeaching your own witness now. I mean, I take that what you are doing -- you've called her a liar on a couple of occasions, but a substantial portion of your case, isn't it, Mr. Starr, is based on the credibility of Ms. Lewinsky. And she told you -- this is the second time you've done that today, I would say.

    She told you under oath at the grand jury, that nobody asked her to lie, and nobody --

    REP. : Mr. Chairman, point of order.

    REP. WATT: -- offered her a job in exchange for anything. You said that's a lie. She said -- you think she was lying then.

    So how are you picking and choosing what you believe from Ms. Lewinsky? It -- and isn't that our job, as members of this committee?

    MR. STARR: I can answer with one word: corroboration. She is vastly corroborated with her phenomenal memory. When she would say, "I was with the president of the United States," she could identify a phone call coming in with a member of Congress whose nickname was -- she could recall a phone call coming in from someone from Florida who was a sugar grower and tie it to a specific date. That gives you corroboration that the event that she is giving --

    REP. WATT: What kind of corroboration would you have for a witness who says that "nobody asked me to lie"?

    REP. HYDE: The gentleman's time has --

    REP. : Order. Order.

    REP. HYDE: The gentleman's time has expired.

    The gentleman from Virginia, Mr. Goodlatte.

    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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