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Full Text: The Approved Articles

The Impeachment Votes: House Roll Call

All Four Articles Explained

Text of Four Articles Passed by Judiciary Committee

Explanation of Article I

By Ruth Marcus
Washington Post Staff Writer

Article I, charging President Clinton with lying to a federal grand jury, was passed by the House Judiciary Committee on Dec. 11 and by the full House on December 19. Following is a description of the article, the underlying evidence cited by Republicans and the arguments for and against.

This article accuses President Clinton of providing "perjurious, false and misleading testimony" when he appeared Aug. 17 before the grand jury investigating his relationship with Monica S. Lewinsky. Many analysts view it as the most perilous for Clinton because of the gravity of lying to a criminal grand jury.

In addition, they point to the fact that -- unlike the Paula Jones deposition in January when Clinton was surprised at the extent of questioning about Lewinsky -- the president had ample time to prepare for the grand jury testimony and had been duly warned about the dangers of lying under oath in that setting.

The article cites four separate areas of alleged perjury, asserting that Clinton lied about "one or more" of the following:

"The nature and details" of Clinton's relationship with Lewinsky. In his grand jury testimony, Clinton did his best to avoid sexual specifics by reading a generalized statement that, although he and the former intern had "inappropriate intimate contact," they did not have "sexual relations" as he understood that term to be used by the Jones lawyers.

The House report supporting the articles of impeachment asserts that the statement itself was perjurious, adding that "the fact that it was prepared beforehand reveals an intent to mislead."

It says Clinton lied in the statement and other parts of his testimony when he said the relationship did not begin until early 1996 -- after her internship ended and she became a White House staff member -- rather than late 1995, as Lewinsky contended. As supporting evidence, Republicans on the Judiciary Committee pointed to Lewinsky's statements to friends at the time, a White House photograph of the president and Lewinsky eating pizza together in November 1995 and logs showing that Lewinsky left the White House shortly after midnight the night of the pizza, and shortly before Clinton's departure from the Oval Office.

They surmise that the motive for Clinton to lie is that he did not want to admit to an affair with an intern, and point to his reported statement, as he pulled at the intern pass around Lewinsky's neck, that "this may be a problem."

It says the president also engaged in "direct lies" when he said he and Lewinsky were alone only on "certain occasions" and had "occasional" telephone conversations when in fact, they had numerous face-to-face meetings and phone calls.

More fundamentally, it says, Clinton lied when he testified about his "contorted and strained" understanding of the term "sexual relations."

Clinton told the grand jury he understands the terms "sexual relations," "relationship" and "affair" to include only intercourse, not oral sex. In addition, he said he believed that the definition of "sexual relationship" used by the Jones lawyers in questioning him -- that "a person engages in sexual relations when the person knowingly engages in or causes contact" with any one of a number of enumerated private parts -- would not apply to a situation in which he had oral sex performed on him.

Impeachment backers say this simply strains belief. As independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr put it in his referral, "That testimony is not credible. At the Jones deposition, the president could not have believed that he was telling 'the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth' in denying a sexual relationship, sexual relations, or a sexual affair with Monica Lewinsky."

The Judiciary report says Clinton also lied about his contact with Lewinsky "even under his misleading interpretation of that definition." In the critical interchange, Clinton was pressed to define the exact contours of his behavior. After denying he had sexual relations with Lewinsky, Clinton was asked, "Including touching her breast, kissing her breast, touching her genitalia?" He responded: "That's correct."

Lewinsky provided detailed testimony to the contrary that the president, in numerous encounters, caressed her breasts and genitals, both through clothing and directly. In addition, Lewinsky provided consistent descriptions of the limited nature of their encounters at the time to friends, family members and therapists.

The president's defenders argue that it would be a "nearly impossible task," as the minority impeachment report put it, to prove at a Senate trial that the president was lying about what was in his mind about his understanding of the term "sexual relations," and argue that "at most that the president may have been mistaken in construing the definition too narrowly, not that he intended to lie."

They dismiss such issues as when the relationship began as too inconsequential to merit impeachment, pointing to a statement by committee Chairman Henry J. Hyde (R-Ill.) earlier this month, "It doesn't strike me as a terribly serious count."

And as to the stark difference in accounts about who touched whom where, the Democrats suggest that "the differing recollections of the president and Ms. Lewinsky may be colored by their differing emotional perspectives concerning the intimate events at issue."

Democrats also point to contradictory accounts given by Lewinsky, including telling friends that she and Clinton had relations in the Oval Office without any clothes, that the president invited her to go to Martha's Vineyard with him when the first lady was out of the country, and that the Secret Service took the president to a rendezvous at her apartment.

Lying about whether he lied during the Jones deposition. Impeachment backers say Clinton lied repeatedly during the Jones deposition and committed perjury when he repeated those remarks during his grand jury testimony and said he had testified truthfully during the Jones deposition. (See discussion of Article II, civil deposition perjury.)

Lying about the Bennett statements. They also cite an incident during the Jones deposition during which Clinton's attorney, Robert S. Bennett, argued unsuccessfully that the president should not be questioned about Lewinsky because Lewinsky had already filed an affidavit that, Bennett said, showed "there is no sex of any kind in any manner, shape or form with President Clinton." Clinton then said Lewinsky's affidavit was "absolutely" true. In his grand jury testimony, asked about that exchange, Clinton said he was "not even sure I paid much attention to what Mr. Bennett was saying . . . the whole argument just passed me by."

The chief Republican counsel to the committee, David P. Schippers, however, played a videotape for the committee in which Clinton appeared to be listening to the discussion, then said, "Do you think for one moment after watching that tape that the president wasn't paying attention? They were talking about Monica Lewinsky, at the time the most dangerous person in the president's life." Democrats counter that the videotape is not as conclusive as Republicans say. They argue that, at the time, Clinton -- realizing the Jones lawyers had inside information about his relationship with Lewinsky -- "obviously was thinking as fast as he could" and using breaks "to figure out how much the Jones attorneys knew and where the questions were heading. It is completely logical to think that he was not paying attention under all of these circumstances."

Lying about obstructing justice. Finally, Article I accuses Clinton of lying in the grand jury about what Republicans say were his attempts to obstruct justice in the Jones lawsuit and later Starr's investigation. (See discussion of Article III, obstruction of justice.)

Explanation of Article III by The Post's Ruth Marcus

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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