THE IMPEACHMENT HEARINGS
Rep. Robert Wexler Questions Starr
Thursday, November 19, 1998
REP. ROBERT WEXLER (D-FL): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The Founding Fathers had infinite choices when they conceived our government. They considered placing impeachment in the realm of the courts, but instead, they decided that impeachment should be a political process, as well as a legal one. That the House of Representatives was uniquely qualified to deliberate on the removal of an elected president, because we would take into account the views of the president's ultimate jury: the people of the United States of America.
And make no mistake about it: That jury rendered its judgment loud and clear on November 3rd, and this committee did not listen. This committee is ignoring the will of the American people, and instead, following the lead of this so-called independent counsel who has conducted a politically-inspired witch-hunt in search of a crime to justify five years and $40 million in taxpayers' money. The American people do not approve, Mr. Starr. They know unfairness when they see it. They know injustice when they feel it. They know hypocrisy when they smell it, they know partisan political when they are the victims of it. In their gut, they have figured this thing out. And still, this committee does not listen.
Here's what the American people have concluded: The president had an affair. He lied about it. He didn't want anyone to know about it. But he didn't bribe anyone, he didn't obstruct justice, he didn't commit treason, he did not subvert the government.
And yet, the committee continues; because, they say, they fear for the rule of law. But as I listen to the questions of my Republican colleagues today, I did not hear their concern for the rule of law regarding Linda Tripp's illegally recorded phone conversations. I do not hear their concern for the rule of law regarding the illegal leaking of grand jury testimony. And where is their concern for the rule of law about Ken Starr's team denying witnesses their basic and fundamental rights of due process?
How we obtain information and conduct investigations in this country, does matter. The president is not above the law, Mr. Starr, and neither are you. That is why I must ask you the following questions about your investigation, and please let me read my four questions before you respond.
On January 16, 1998, do you admit or deny that your agents threatened Ms. Lewinsky with 27 years in prison, if she contacted her attorney as she testified?
Do you admit or deny that your agents threatened to prosecute her mother if Ms. Lewinsky called her attorney as she testified?
That your agents told Monica Lewinsky that she would be less likely to receive immunity if she contacted her attorney as she testified?
Do you admit or deny that your office threatened Julie Hyatt Steele, a witness in the Kathleen Willey matter, that they would raise questions bout the legality of the adoption of her eight-year-old child, unless she changed her testimony?
If you would, please, Mr. Starr, in the interests of time, please admit or deny. Did your agents threaten Ms. Lewinsky with 27 years in prison?
MR. STARR: Before I engaged in an admission or denial, I would want to see the question. And I would be delighted to receive the question, and I would then give you a written admission or denial.
REP. WEXLER: Didn't I make it simple?
MR. STARR: I would be happy to respond --
REP. ROGAN: Mr. Chairman, a parliamentary inquiry, please.
REP. HYDE: The gentleman will state his inquiry.
REP. WEXLER: Mr. Chairman, it's not on my time.
REP. HYDE: No. Your time is almost expired, but we'll give you another minute.
REP. ROGAN: Mr. Chairman, I rise to a parliamentary inquiry with respect to the procedures. Perhaps it's only me, but I'm finding it very difficult with this pattern of multiple questions being asked in a row, and then inviting multiple answers all gathered about at once. The answers ought to be in sync with the question, and I would suggest that the better practice would be question, answer, question, answer.
REP. NADLER: Point of order, Mr. Chairman, that's obviously not a parliamentary inquiry.
REP. HYDE: The Chair states that that is not a parliamentary inquiry. A member who has five minutes can ask or assert whatever they want. It is curious that they all use the five minutes -- we've done it, too -- and then Mr. Starr has difficulty answering, because there are further interruptions. I don't think this has been at all a fair proceeding. It hasn't been the chair's fault. But take what time you need to answer the speech of Mr. Wexler.
MR. STARR: With respect, three of the questions went -- and if you asked me in writing, I will be happy to follow up -- three of the questions went to the events of the evening of January 16. I will say that we conducted ourselves properly and lawfully, that that determination has been made. These issues get litigated in court. And I think that we --
REP. JENKINS: (Off mike.)
MR. STARR: -- if I could finish -- that we conducted ourselves in a proper and professional way, saying that we want the witness to cooperate under the circumstances of her engaging in felonious conduct. With respect to your fourth question -- and that's my response with respect to those.
With respect to the fourth question on Ms. Steele. As I said earlier, I believe that our agents are going about their work in a way that is appropriate to test credibility, to inquire as to areas that, in their professional judgment, go to credibility. But if there are issues with respect to how particular witnesses handle it -- and I've heard a number of those questions -- I think the right thing to do, is for the individual, especially for one as Ms. Steele is, represented by counsel, to say "I've been treated unfairly," and to see what the remedy is.
But for me to try to engage in almost an adjudicatory function here, is somewhat odd, to take certain selected facts, to come to an ultimate judgment.
REP. HYDE: The gentleman's time has expired.
REP. WEXLER; Mr. Chairman, you had indicated I'd have a minute before the other gentleman from California --
REP. HYDE; Well, don't you consider the time to answer your questions part of your time?
REP. WEXLER; Mr. Chairman, Mr. Chairman, I sat very diligently. I'll take 15 seconds.
REP. HYDE: Just a moment. Oh, God. Mr. Wexler, you may have 15 seconds.
REP. WEXLER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Starr, I did not ask you about the legality of the actions of your agents. All I asked you was a factual question: did your agents or did they not, threaten Ms. Lewinsky with 27 years in prison? It's either yes or no, not the legality.
MR. STARR: I do not -- I know what Ms. Lewinsky has said. I would have to conduct an interview with my agents to know what the position of the office is.
REP. WEXLER: Thank you, Mr. Starr.
REP. : The answer was yes.
REP. HYDE: The gentleman from -- (laughter) -- The gentleman from Arkansas.
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