This is the second of seven pages with the full text of Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee.
Kenneth Starr testimony before the House Judiciary Committee.
Kenneth Starr’s Actual Opening Statement
HYDE: Pursuant to notice, I now convene the committee for a hearing pursuant to House Resolution 581, the resolution which the House adopted authorizing an inquiry into whether to recommend impeachment of the president of the United States.
The chair intends to recognize himself for five minutes and the ranking minority member for five minutes. Each member may be permitted to place an opening statement into the record.
After the two opening statements — my own and the ranking member’s — the chair intends to recognize the witness, the independent counsel, Mr. Starr.
Without objection, after Mr. Starr’s presentation, the chair will recognize minority counsel, Mr. Lowell, for 30 minutes to question the witness; majority counsel, Mr. Schippers, for 30 minutes to question the witness. And subsequent to questioning by committee counsel, each member will be recognized to ask questions under the five-minute rule. Subsequent to members’ questions, the president’s counsel will be recognized for 30 minutes to question the witness and the chair recognizes Mr. Delahunt, the gentleman from Massachusetts.
DELAHUNT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have a motion at the desk.
HYDE: The clerk will report the — why don’t you read it? Read it, Mr. Delahunt.
DELAHUNT: I move that counsel to the president be recognized for two hours to question the witness.
HYDE: Well, the chair states that Mr. Starr is here to help us educe and understand the facts. The hearing today is not a trial, nor is it White House versus Ken Starr or Republican versus Democrat. Rather, the hearing today is another step in our attempt to carry out our constitutional duty to determine whether facts exist which indicate that the president of the United States committed impeachable offenses.
If this committee…
(UNKNOWN): … two hours…
HYDE: … and the full determine the president has committed an impeachable offense, a trial may be held in the Senate. With this in mind, the chair believes that time allotments for questioning are eminently fair.
As far as giving the president an opportunity to present his version of the facts, I would first ask the president and his counsel to respond to the 81 questions we submitted to him two weeks ago. This will go a long way to helping us gather and understand the facts involved in this matter.
Furthermore, the president has a standing invitation to come before this committee for any amount of time and present us with his version of the facts.
As I compute the timing for questioning the witness, the Democrats — including the president’s counsel — have 140 minutes of questioning time, the Republicans 135. The Democrats are permitted two separate counsels — that is to say the Democrat members, Mr. Lowell, and the president’s counsel. We have one. Our counsel will get a half hour. Mr. Lowell will get a half hour. Mr. Kendall will get a half hour. So it’s — I don’t see any imbalance there.
Mr. Lowell, the Democratic counsel, will go before any of the elected members — at Mr. Conyers’ request, and I’m happy to grant that. The president’s counsel will have unlimited time to present his witnesses at the end of our hearings when they’re ready to do so.
And so the rule that we’re operating under — which is the same rule that was used in the Rodino era. Rule 4 of the impeachment inquiry rules specifically states that the president’s counsel may question any witness subject to instructions from the chairman, respecting the time, scope and duration of the examination.
And so with that statement, the gentlemen’s motion is denied.
DELAHUNT: Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.
HYDE: Well, the gentleman’s not recognized for that purpose.
FRANK: Mr. Chairman. Point of order, Mr. Chairman.
(UNKNOWN FEMALE MEMBER): May I be heard on the motion.
FRANK: Point of order, Mr. Chairman.
Point of order, Mr. Chairman.
HYDE: What is the point?
FRANK: The point is that the gentleman from Massachusetts made a motion. The chair then spoke to the motion, and has denied, under the rules, the right of the gentleman who made the motion to, in fact respond to it. And I make the point of order that the gentleman is entitled to his recognition.
HYDE: I’m sorry. I didn’t — I was distracted. What is the point of order?
FRANK: The gentleman made a motion…
HYDE: Yes, I know that.
FRANK: The chair recognized the gentleman to make a motion. He then — the chair then spoke to the motion and is now denying the maker of the motion the right under our rules to speak to his own motion. And the gentleman has a right under our rules to be recognized to speak to his motion.
HYDE: Well, I’ll recognize the gentleman. Go ahead, Mr. Delahunt.
DELAHUNT: Thank you…
HYDE: I have ruled on the gentleman’s motion, but go ahead.
DELAHUNT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The committee has given the independent counsel a full two hours to present his version of the facts — a version which most Americans are already fully familiar with. At the same time, the majority has seen fit to give the president’s counsel all of 30 minutes to question Mr. Starr. This is meant to be the president’s sole opportunity to confront his accuser during these proceedings.
HYDE: Would the gentleman yield for just a second?
DELAHUNT: I will not yield. I submit this is a grave disservice not only to the president, but to the integrity of these proceedings. It is a complete and unwarranted departure from the precedents of this House.
During the Watergate hearings of 1974, President Nixon’s counsel James St. Clair was given all the time he needed to respond to the evidence and cross-examine witnesses.
This is as it should be. We are talking about the impeachment of the president of the United States — a gave constitutional moment in our national history. I know that some members of the Watergate committee argued that the president’s counsel, Mr. St. Clair, should be given limited time to speak, but those views were wisely overruled in the interests of fairness and decency.
President Clinton is entitled to the same consideration and respect shown to President Nixon on that occasion — no more and no less. The record of the Watergate hearings make clear that at no time was Mr. St. Clair given a time limit for his presentation or his examination of witnesses.
Is there any legitimate basis for a different rule today? The majority may point out that the Watergate testimony was heard in closed session, while today we sit before the cameras and the American people. Yet that being true, it is more important, not less, that the president be given a full and fair opportunity to respond to the charges that are being leveled against him.
They may argue, as they did in a recent letter to the White House, that the president and his counsel are here — and I’m quoting — “only as a matter of courtesy and not of right.” End of quote. In other words, be glad that we are letting you testify at all.
DELAHUNT: With all due respect, Mr. Chairman, if the goal is justice, this cannot be a satisfactory response.
A 30-minute presentation is especially inadequate when one considers that Mr. Starr has been preparing for weeks, a presentation that the White House saw for the first time last night.
According to news accounts, the witnesses spent the better part of the past several weeks conducting videotaped practice sessions. The president’s counsel has had all of 16 hours to prepare his response.
Precedent has been abandoned at almost every turn. We rushed to release Mr. Starr’s transmittal within hours of its receipt, before any review by this committee or the president’s counsel.
We posted thousands of pages of secret grand jury testimony on the Internet. And we abdicated our responsibility to make an independent examination of the facts before voting to commence an impeachment inquiry.
Let’s to this right. I urge support for the motion and yield back the balance of my time.
HYDE: The gentleman has made a point that the president needs more time to present — you said, present. He will be given all the time in the world to present, unlimited time to…
WATT: Point of order, Mr. Chairman.
HYDE: … today’s hearing is to hear from Judge Starr. And to question him…
WATT: Point of order, Mr. Chairman.
HYDE: No, the chair — I don’t yield for any points of order. I would like to make my statement.
WATT: I thought you had already made your statement, Mr. Chairman.
HYDE: Well, I know that’s what you thought. But you couldn’t possibly know when I’m through with my statement or not. So please let me…
WATT: Under the rules under which we’re operating, Mr. Chairman, we don’t know anything about the process. We had regular order at one point.
WATT: I’m asking for regular order. I’m requesting order. Regular order is we get five minutes to address this issue. The chairman has already had his five minutes.
HYDE: Now, I want to tell this committee, and especially the Democrats, I had a meeting with Mr. Conyers and Mr. Frank a couple of days ago.
HYDE: And I suggested I would be very liberal with the gavel. And if Mr. Kendall is on a line of questioning that he deems pertinent, I don’t intend to shut anybody off. Now you are, you are — you are disrupting the continuity of this meeting with these adversarial motions.
WATT: We’re disrupting a railroad, it seems like, Mr. Chairman. That’s what we’re disrupting here.
HYDE: The gentleman will observe decorum, and I would appreciate it if you would speak when you’re recognized. I have not recognized you.
JACKSON LEE: Mr. Chairman, I have a point of information. I’d like a point of information, Mr. Chairman. Appreciate being recognized for a point of information.
HYDE: Now, I’m trying to be cooperative. I said I would be liberal in giving people time, and I recognize Mr. Frank.
JACKSON LEE: Point of order, Mr. Chairman.
FRANK: Mr. Chairman, I thank you. And I appreciate — we did have that meeting, and you accommodated one of our requests, particularly in terms of the order, and you did say you would be with regard to Mr. Lowell, we talked about it not on a strict gavel. But I did think that with regard to the president’s counsel’s request, we were not authorized to speak entirely for that. We could speak for our counsel.
It does seem to me there’s a reasonable difference of opinion here, and we ought to just vote on it. I don’t think it’s going to be delaying the committee process. Mr. Delahunt’s made a motion. But have the vote, and we will decide it. But we did accept that assurance with regard to Mr. Lowell, but not with regard to the independent party of the White House.
WATT: Mr. Chairman, I call for a record vote.
HYDE: Very well. The record vote is on the motion…
NADLER: Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, before the…
HYDE: Who’s seeking recognition?
JACKSON LEE: Mr. Chairman… HYDE: Well, just a moment, Miss Jackson Lee, I’ve got to recognize Mr. Nadler.
JACKSON LEE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
HYDE: Mr. Nadler.
NADLER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, before we vote, I’d like to speak to Mr. Delahunt’s motion.
NADLER: And I appreciate the chair’s comments. But the fact is that as of now, today is the only notice gave for hearing of this committee. We’ve noticed that some witnesses will be called for depositions. But as of today, Mr. Starr is the only witness that we’re aware of before the committee considering the impeachment of the president.
As such, given any consideration of fairness and equity, the president’s counsel, and for that matter, the Democratic Committee counsel, should have as much time as they request. There should not be a time limit on it.
Now the president’s counsel requested 90 minutes. That should be, without question, granted. If he asks for five hours, that should be granted.
We have requested — and I don’t know what we’ve requested — an hour for our counsel. And I don’t know what assurances have been given, but I heard the chair say 30 minutes. That should be an hour.
And the fact is Mr. Starr, your calculation of 200 — of 135 minutes and 140 minutes, Mr. Starr’s going to sit here for 120 minutes and tell us why the president ought to be impeached in his opinion, and he’s entitled to do that. But you add to that the other time that the…
You add to that the other time, the — one side is going to have 260 minutes and the other side’s going to have 135 minutes. Now I really suggest that if the president of the United States asked that this committee in its one day of scheduled hearings should have 90 minutes to cross-examine Mr. Starr, that’s the least that can be asked.
And I’ve looked at lists of questions and subjects which Mr. Starr’s report, and frankly, his statement that we got last night, raises as obvious questions, and there’s a lot more than 30 minutes there. And the Constitution guarantees the right of anyone who is accused of any wrongdoing and fundamental fairness guarantees the right of anyone to have the right to confront the witness against them. And Mr. Starr is the only witness. And frankly, that right ought not to be limited to 30 minutes.
So I support Mr. Delahunt’s motion, and I hope that in the interest of fairness — because you know this proceeding must not only be fair but must be seen to be fair.
NADLER: If we end up …
HYDE: Mr. Nadler. I now recognize …
NADLER: If we…
HYDE: I want to recognize Ms. Jackson Lee.
JACKSON LEE: Mr. Chairman, I’d like to…
HYDE: Thank you, Mr. Nadler.
JACKSON LEE: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I’d like to take this opportunity for a point of information and also to speak briefly to the motion of Mr. Delahunt.
First of all, I think it would be well to clarify the point that the president’s counsel stands as the president’s counsel. The Democrats and the Democratic counsel of the House stand separately in their responsibility to the impeachment process. And so to collectively add up numbers to suggest that we have in total some 200, 100, five minutes — whatever it may be, Mr. Chairman — I would respectfully disagree: for in the instance of the St. Clair representation of Mr. Nixon, he had an unlimited amount of time because it was distinct under the Rodino Watergate committee, which this committee alludes to the fact that it is following, that they had a separate responsibility from the House Democrats.
And I respect that because I will ultimately, with my colleagues, have to vote up or down on articles of impeachment.
Secondarily, let me say, Mr. Chairman, just in terms of the context of justice in America, we have always argued that justice is blind, but we’ve never argued that justice is gagged. You cannot have the defense in a courtroom sitting gagged and bound without any opportunity to refute the accused overwhelming opportunity to talk and talk and talk.
We do not talk by death, if you will, the accused in the courtroom. We allow a defense. And I respect the process and the procedure of this very awesome and somber occasion, but I cannot for the life of me understand, Mr. Chairman, why we would gag and bound the counsel for the White House, the counsel for the president, which goes against every single grain in the history of America.
When we did it with the Chicago Seven, or Eight, in Chicago, we have never lived down that tainted process. I certainly don’t equate this with that, but I would argue that we should never repeat history and gag the defense for this particular issue.
JACKSON LEE: So Mr. Chairman, I would ask, with all due respect, that we clarify that the president’s counsel is the president’s counsel, the House is separate, I am separate, and we cannot collectively add that time together. And I would ask that we vote for Mr. Delahunt’s motion.
HYDE: The chair would like to suggest to the gentlelady, with respect, the chair doesn’t intend to bind and gag anybody.
JACKSON LEE: I appreciate it, Mr. Chairman.
JACKSON LEE: The chair…
JACKSON LEE: And I would like to support his motion by acclamation.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I yield back.
HYDE: I didn’t hear the end. You want a motion by acclamation?
JACKSON LEE: I would ask both Republicans and Democrats to support Mr. Delahunt’s motion of fairness by acclamation, leading into or taking up the point that the chairman just made that he has no intention to gag and bound the voice of the counsel of the president of the United States. I ask that we accept his motion by acclamation, both Republicans and Democrats.
I yield back my time, Mr. Chairman.
HYDE: The gentleman from Wisconsin.
SENSENBRENNER: Mr. Chairman, the entire purpose of this meeting here today is to get Mr. Starr’s testimony and to ask a reasonable amount of questions of Mr. Starr to find out why he did what he did and why he reached the conclusions that he did.
Having a couple of hours of parliamentary haggling relative to the procedure of today’s hearing, I think, denigrates the dignity of this hearing. I have great confidence in the fairness of Mr. Hyde. Mr. Hyde has presided over this committee in an extremely fair manner for the almost four years that he has served as chairman.
I think that the complaints that we are hearing from the other side of the aisle insinuate that Mr. Hyde will not conduct this hearing fairly. I don’t think that there are any facts in evidence that Mr. Hyde is not going to conduct this hearing fairly.
I think we should vote down the motion. We should get on with Judge Starr’s testimony, the questions that will be asked by the various counsel, and see how it goes.
SENSENBRENNER: But the people over on the other side of the aisle, I think, are saying that this is going to be a railroad before the whistle even blows and the train leaves the station.
Let’s hear what Judge Starr has to say. Let’s conduct a dignified hearing, and let’s get to the merits of this issue rather than who gets to talk how long.
CONYERS: Mr. Chairman, parliamentary inquiry.
HYDE: The gentleman from Michigan.
CONYERS: Mr. Chairman, notwithstanding that Maxine Waters is our fairness cop, I move for a vote on the pending motion.
(UNKNOWN): Here, here.
(UNKNOWN): Parliamentary inquiry.
HYDE: Without objection, the previous question is ordered and the clerk will call the roll.
CLERK: Mr. Sensenbrenner.
CLERK: Mr. Sensenbrenner votes no.
CLERK: Mr. McCollum votes no.
CLERK: Mr. Gekas votes no.
CLERK: Mr. Coble votes no.
CLERK: Mr. Smith votes no.
CLERK: Mr. Gallegly votes no.
CLERK: Mr. Kennedy votes no.
CLERK: Mr. Inglis votes no.
CLERK: Mr. Goodlatte votes no.
CLERK: Mr. Buyer votes no.
CLERK: Mr. Bryant votes no.
CLERK: Mr. Chabot votes no.
CLERK: Mr. Barr votes no.
JENKINS: No. CLERK: Mr. Jenkins votes no.
CLERK: Mr. Hutchinson votes no.
CLERK: Mr. Pease votes no.
CLERK: Mr. Cannon votes no.
CLERK: Mr. Rogan votes no.
CLERK: Mr. Graham votes no.
CLERK: Ms. Bono votes no.
CLERK: Mr. Conyers votes aye.
CLERK: Mr. Frank votes aye.
CLERK: Mr. Schumer votes aye.
CLERK: Mr. Berman votes aye.
CLERK: Mr. Boucher votes aye.
CLERK: Mr. Nadler votes aye.
CLERK: Mr. Scott votes aye.
CLERK: Mr. Watt votes aye.
CLERK: Ms. Lofgren votes aye.
Ms. Jackson Lee.
JACKSON LEE: Aye.
CLERK: Ms. Jackson Lee votes aye.
CLERK: Ms. Waters votes aye.
CLERK: Mr. Meehan votes aye.
DELAHUNT: Aye. CLERK: Mr. Delahunt votes aye.
CLERK: Mr. Wexler votes aye.
CLERK: Mr. Rothman votes aye.
CLERK: Mr. Barrett votes aye.
CLERK: Mr. Hyde votes no.
Mr. Chairman, there are 16 ayes and 21 no’s.
HYDE: And the motion is not agreed to. The chair recognizes himself for five minutes for purposes of making an opening statement.
HYDE: This morning, we commence our second public hearing in fulfillment of the mandate imposed on us in House Resolution 581. While the business of impeachment is rare, and happily so, it becomes necessary from time to time when circumstances require that it be exercised as a constitutional counter balance to allegations of serious abuse of presidential power.
It is part of the series of checks and balances that exemplify the genius of our founding fathers. Throughout our history, we’ve had a number of impeachment inquiries, but this one represents a historical first. Never before has an impeachment inquiry arisen because of a referral from an independent counsel under Section 595(C) of the statute.
For that reason, we have no precedent to follow on the involvement of the independent counsel in our proceedings. However, it seems both useful and instructive that we should hear from him since he is the person most familiar with the complicated matters the House has directed us to review.
We’re holding this hearing to learn the facts surrounding this situation, including those in the referral that Judge Starr sent us September 9, 1998, and to determine whether those facts justify our voting on articles of impeachment.
Everyone should understand how this process works. Under the Constitution, the House of Representatives has the sole power to make accusations known as articles of impeachment. They may do so by a majority vote.
If the House makes such accusations, they are then sent to the Senate for trial. The Senate may convict by a two-thirds vote.
Our Founding Fathers wisely determined that one chamber should accuse and the other should judge.
HYDE: We began our work on November 9 at the hearing when we were enlightened by the testimony of two panels of outstanding academics about the history and nature of the impeachment process. Today the search for the truth continues as we turn to the underlying facts.
And as we begin that search, we turn to one person, Judge Starr, who has a comprehensive overview of the complex issues we face. I thought we should have that overview before we hear from other witnesses.
As we announced earlier this week, we will hear from other witnesses in live hearings and in depositions as we move towards a final resolution.
In addition, we have yet to hear from the president. And I can assure my colleagues, if and when the president would want to testify, he may have unlimited time to do so.
In any event, we are hopeful that the pledge of cooperation we received from his attorneys will soon be fulfilled.
Let me repeat my New Year’s resolution. It’s my fervent hope we will be able to conclude this inquiry before the New Year turns. I’m hopeful that all members will bear this in mind as we conduct this search for truth will all deliberate speed.
There are many voices telling us to halt this debate, that the people are weary of it all. There are other voices suggesting we have a duty to debate the many questions raised by the circumstances in which we find ourselves, questions of high consequence for constitutional government.
David Broder, writing in The Washington Post yesterday, suggested that in our hearings, quote, “we will define as a nation the standard of honesty we’re going to impose on our president.” Close quote.
HYDE: What is the significance of a false statement under oath? Is it essentially different from a garden variety lie? A mental reservation? A fib? An evasion? A little white lie? Hyperbole?
In a court proceeding, do you assume some trivial responsibility when you raise your right hand, and swear to God to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?
And what of the rule of law? — that unique aspect of a free society that protects you from the fire on your roof or the knock on your door at 3:00 a.m.? What does lying under oath do to the rule of law?
Do we still have a government of laws and not of men? Does the law apply to some people with force and ferocity while the powerful are immune? Do we have one set of laws for the officers and another for the enlisted? Should we?
These are but a few questions these hearings are intended to explore. And just perhaps, when the debate is over, the rationalizations and the distinctions and the semantic gymnastics are put to rest, we may be closer to answering for our generation the haunting question asked 139 years ago in a small military cemetery in Pennsylvania — whether a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal can long endure.
The chair now recognizes the minority leader, the ranking member of this committee, Mr. Conyers, for five minutes for his opening statement.
CONYERS: Mr. Chairman and my colleagues on the Judiciary Committee, we meet today for only the third time in the history of our nation to take evidence in an inquiry of impeachment against a president of the United States.
Today’s witness, Kenneth W. Starr, wrote the tawdry, salacious and unnecessarily graphic referral that he delivered to us in September with so much drama and fanfare. And now the majority members of this committee have called that same prosecutor forward to testify in an unprecedented desperation effort to breathe new life into a dying inquiry.
CONYERS: It is fundamental to the integrity of this inquiry to examine whether the independent counsel’s evidence is tainted, whether conclusions are colored by improper motive.
In short, it is relevant to exam the conduct of the independent counsel his staff, for their behavior impacts directly on the credibility of the evidence in the referral.
For example, the committee must understand whether Mr. Starr improperly threatened witnesses if they did not provide incriminating evidence against the president of the United States, whether Mr. Starr’s partisan interest affected the collection and presentation of evidence, and whether Mr. Starr himself violated the law by leaking uncensored grand jury material to humiliate the president.
Mr. Chairman and members, contrary to the views that have been expressed by Chairman Hyde that you expressed in letters to me this week as well, these are not collateral issues at all. They go to the very heart of Mr. Starr’s referral. To turn a blind eye to these is to continue an unfair and partisan process.
Now no one defends the president’s conduct, but even Republican witnesses at our hearing only last week testified that even if the alleged facts are proven true, they simply do not amount to impeachable offenses. The idea of a federally paid sex policeman spending millions of dollars to trap an unfaithful spouse or the police civil — or the police civil litigation would have been unthinkable prior to the Starr investigation.
Let there be no mistake — it is not now acceptable in America to investigate a person’s private sexual activity. It is not acceptable to force mothers to testify against their daughters; to make lawyers testify against their clients; to require Secret Service agents to testify against the people they protect; or to make book stores tell what books people read.
CONYERS: It is not acceptable for rogue attorneys and investigators to trap a young woman in a hotel room, discourage her from calling her lawyer, ridicule her when she asked to call her mother. But the record suggests, I’m sorry to say, that is precisely how Kenneth W. Starr has conducted this investigation.
An independent counsel must do justice both in the specific matter he’s investigating and through the system of justice as a whole. While an independent counsel can and should pursue a case with vigor, I and many others believe that Mr. Starr has crossed that line into obsession.
And when I talk about obsession, sir, I wonder why Mr. Starr encouraged Linda Tripp to continue to betray and entrap her young, unsuspecting friend and to allow her to continue her illegal tape recordings without court approval.
And when I talk about obsession, I wonder why Mr. Starr ignored his ethical obligations and failed to disclose his involvement in the Paula Jones’ case which could have disqualified him from this point of the investigation.
Is it just coincidence that even before he was appointed independent counsel Mr. Starr was already in contact with lawyers for Paula Jones? Is it just coincidental that Mr. Starr, until recently, drew $1 million a year salary from his law firm that represents the tobacco industry, which is fighting President Clinton’s effort to deter teen smoking? Is it just a coincidence that this independent counsel accepted a prestigious job at a university funded by one of the president’s most persistent and vocal critic, Richard Mellon Scaife?
Is it just a coincidence that the independent counsel failed to provide this committee with important exculpatory evidence in his referral, casually glossing over the central part of Monica Lewinksy’s testimony when she clearly stated that — quote — “No one promised me a job; no one asked me to lie” — unquote — about her relationship.
CONYERS: Perhaps Mr. Starr will persuade us not to be concerned about these matters. But he surely carries the burden of showing us and the American people that these things did not affect his fairness nor his impartiality.
Nor do I understand why Mr. Starr declined to provide the Democratic members of the committee with copies of documents that we’ve repeatedly requested. Mr. Starr even says that the president should be impeached because he invokes privilege. But he is quick to raise the privilege argument when questioned about his own conduct. And did so this week when Democrats sought documents concerning his conduct.
Over the course of this investigation the independent counsel complained publicly and still does that a lack of cooperation was impeding his investigation. And yet he has now afforded members of the committee the same treatment about which he has complained. This causes us to question Mr. Starr’s motives and to lack confidence in his referral.
His conduct over the past week has only reinforced my doubts. On Friday, Mr. Starr shipped two new boxes of documents to us and announced an indictment dating back to events occurring before Bill Clinton was even president — pre-1992.
On Tuesday, the same day that our Republican colleagues suggested that they might want to expand this impeachment inquiry, contrary to the chairman’s stated desire to close it down, Mr. Starr shipped four new boxes of documents to us.
CONYERS: And last night, we learned that Mr. Starr’s now sees it fit for this committee to consider Whitewater or other alleged improprieties that he didn’t see fit to mention in his referral.
The sense of desperation in the face of a failed impeachment inquiry is palpable.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, I would be remiss in my duties if I did not observe that to date our committee process has not been bipartisan nor fair. All this committee has done since September 9th is to in a partisan manner dump salacious grand jury material on a public that doesn’t want it. It was you, Mr. Chairman Hyde, who said this process could not proceed unless it was bipartisan.
We need to do better than 11th-hour unilateral decisions to subpoena witnesses having little to do with the underlying referral. We need to do better in offering the president a full and fair opportunity to participate in these hearings.
We have many questions about the way you conducted your investigation, Mr. Starr. Fairness dictates that the committee and the American people learn whether you have created a climate for the purpose of driving a president from office who has twice been elected by the people of this great nation.
HYDE: I thank the gentleman. Today, our witness is Judge Kenneth W. Starr.
On August 5th, 1994, the Special Division of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit appointed Judge Starr to investigate what has become known as the Whitewater matter. Since that time, Attorney General Reno and the Special Division added several other matters, including the White House Travel Office and the FBI files matters to Judge Starr’s jurisdiction.
After his submission of evidence, they further added what has become known as the Lewinsky matter.
HYDE: Judge Starr has a bachelor’s degree from the George Washington University, a master’s degree from Brown University and a juris doctor degree from Duke University.
He then clerked for Judge David Dyer (ph) of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and Chief Justice Warren Burger of the Supreme Court of the United States.
After serving on President Reagan’s transition team, Judge Starr served as counselor to Attorney General William French Smith from 1981 to 1983. In 1983, President Reagan nominated him to serve as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, and he was confirmed by the Senate.
Judge Starr served on the D.C. Circuit until 1989, when President Bush nominated him to be the solicitor general of the United States. As solicitor general, Judge Starr was responsible for representing the United States before the Supreme Court.
In November 1993, Democrats on the Senate Ethics Committee chose him to serve as a hearing examiner to review Senator Packwood’s diaries for relevant information.
Since August 1994, Judge Starr has conducted the investigation of Whitewater and the other matters that have been assigned to him by Attorney General Reno and the Special Division.
That investigation has led to the conviction of 14 persons, including a sitting governor of Arkansas, in two separate cases; the former No. 3 person in the United States Department of Justice; and two former business partners of the president. Six other indictments are currently pending in the courts.
HYDE: More pertinent to today’s hearing, Judge Starr’s investigation has led to the first-ever impeachment referral under section 595(c) of the independent counsel statute. That referral has given rise to the impeachment inquiry we are now conducting.
With that, Judge Starr, would you please rise so I may administer the oath?
Mr. Starr, do you swear that the testimony you are about to give before this committee will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
STARR: I do.
HYDE: Thank you.
Let the record reflect the witness responded in the affirmative.
And Mr. Starr, you may proceed.
STARR: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I welcome this opportunity to be before the committee. This…
HYDE: Is your mike on?
(UNKNOWN): You need to pull it closer.
STARR: I was just told to push it away.
(UNKNOWN) Some Democrat told you that.
HYDE: I’m sure that may have been Mr. Delahunt.
STARR: The person did not identify his affiliation in saying that.
But this is my first opportunity to publicly report on certain issues and aspects of our work, and I look forward to doing so and seeking to assist the committee.
I appreciate both the seriousness of the committee’s work and the gravity of its assignment. I have reviewed the statements made by the 37 members at the October 5 hearing.
Any citizen who watched that hearing would have been impressed by the depth and the breadth of the discussion that day, and…
(UNKNOWN): Mr. Chairman, I apologize for interrupting Judge Starr.
But Judge, could you pull the mike a little closer?
(UNKNOWN): Yes, I’ll keep…
RANGEL: Pull it.
STARR: So I appear before you today in the wake of your own hearings, both on October 5 and in the hearings to which the chair just referred, with great respect and awareness of the difficulty of your task.
As you know, in January of this year, and as the chairman indicated, the attorney general of the United States petitioned the Special Division of the United States Court of Appeals for this jurisdiction, the panel that oversees independent counsels.
And at the attorney general’s request, the special division granted authority to us to investigate whether Monica Lewinsky or others committed federal crimes relating to the sexual harassment lawsuit brought by Paula Jones against the president.
Our office conducted a swift yet thorough investigation. We completed the primary factual investigation in under eight months, notwithstanding a number of obstacles in our path.
The law requires, as the chairman indicated, an independent counsel to report to the House of Representatives substantial and credible information that an impeachable offense may have been committed.
On September 9, pursuant to our statutory duty, we submitted a referral, and we submitted backup documentation to the House, as Mr. Conyers has noted. I am here today at your invitation in furtherance of our statutory obligation.
Let me say at the outset that I recognize that it is the House of Representatives — and not an independent counsel — which enjoys the sole power to impeach. My role today is to discuss our referral and the underlying investigation.
STARR: Let me then begin with an overview. As our referral explains, the evidence suggests that the president made false statements under oath and thwarted the search for truth in Jones versus Clinton. The evidence further suggests that the president made false statements under oath to the grand jury on August 17 of this year. That same night, the president publicly acknowledged an inappropriate relationship, but maintained that his testimony had been legally accurate. The president also declared that all inquiries into the matter should end, because, he said, it was private.
But shortly after the president’s August 17 speech, Senators Lieberman, Kerrey and Moynihan stated that the president’s actions were not a private matter. In our view, they were correct.
Indeed, the evidence suggests that the president repeatedly tried to thwart the legal process in the Jones matter and in the grand jury investigation. That is not a private matter.
The evidence further suggests that the president in the course of those efforts misused his authority and his power as president and contravened his duty to faithfully execute the laws. That, too, is not a private matter.
Closer still? OK. There’s noise in the hall, so I will continue to try to speak up and into the mike. OK.
The evidence suggests that the misuse of presidential authority occurred in the following 10 ways.
STARR: First, the evidence suggests that the president made a series of premeditated false statements in his civil deposition on January 17, 1998. Those were statements under oath. The president had taken an oath to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
By making false statements under oath, the president, the chief executive of our nation, failed to adhere to that oath and to his presidential oath to faithfully execute the laws.
Second, the evidence suggests that apart from making false statements under oath, the president engaged in a pattern — a pattern of behavior during the Jones’ litigation to thwart the judicial process.
The president reached an agreement with Ms. Lewinsky that each would make false statements under oath. He provided job assistance to Ms. Lewinsky at a time when the Jones’ case was proceeding and Ms. Lewinsky’s truthful testimony would have been harmful.
He engaged in an apparent scheme to conceal gifts that had been subpoenaed from Ms. Lewinsky. He coached a potential witness, his own secretary, Mrs. Currie, with a false account of relevant events.
Those acts constitute a pattern of obstruction that is fundamentally inconsistent with the president’s duty to faithfully execute the law.
Third, the evidence suggests that the president participated in a scheme at his civil deposition in which his attorney, in his presence, deceived a United States district judge in an effort to cut off questioning about Ms. Lewinsky.
STARR: The president did not correct his attorney’s statement.
A false statement to a federal judge in order to shortcut and to prevent relevant questioning is an obstruction of the judicial process.
Fourth. The evidence suggests that on January 23, 1998, after the criminal investigation had become public, the president made false statements to his Cabinet and used his Cabinet as unwitting surrogates to publicly support the president’s false story.
Fifth. The evidence suggests that the president, acting in a premeditated and calculated fashion, deceived the American people on January 26 and on other occasions when he denied a relationship with Ms. Lewinsky.
Sixth. The evidence suggests that the president, after the criminal investigation became public, made false statements to his aides and concocted false alibis that these government employees repeated to the grand jury sitting at the United States courthouse. As a result, the grand jury here in Washington received inaccurate information.
Seventh. Having promised the American people to cooperate with the investigation, the president refused six invitations to testify before the grand jury. Refusing to cooperate with a duly authorized federal criminal investigation is inconsistent with the general statutory duty of all executive branch employees to cooperate with criminal investigations. It also is inconsistent with the president’s duty to faithfully execute the laws.
Eighth. The president and his administration asserted three different governmental privileges to conceal relevant information from the grand jury. The privilege assertions were legally baseless in these circumstances.
STARR: They were inconsistent with the actions of Presidents Carter and Reagan in similar circumstances, and they delayed and impeded the investigation.
Ninth. The president made false statements under oath to the grand jury on August 17, 1998. The president again took an oath to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. The evidence demonstrates that the president failed to adhere to that oath and thus to his presidential oath to faithfully execute the laws.
Tenth. The evidence suggests that the president deceived the American people in his speech on August 17 by stating that his testimony had been legally accurate.
In addition to these 10 points, it bears mention that well before January of 1998 the president used governmental resources and prerogatives to pursue his relationship. The evidence suggests that the president used his secretary, Betty Currie, a government employee, to facilitate and to conceal the relationship with Ms. Lewinsky.
The president used White House aides and the United States ambassador to the United Nations in his effort to find Ms. Lewinsky a job at time that it was foreseeable, even likely, that she would be a witness in the Jones case.
STARR: And the president used a governmental attorney, Bruce Lindsey, to assist his personal legal defense during the Jones case.
In short, the evidence suggests that the president repeatedly used the machinery of government and the powers of his high office to conceal his relationship — to conceal the relationship from the American people; from the judicial process in the Jones case; and from the grand jury.
Let me turn, then, to the legal context in which these issues first arose. At the outset, I want to emphasize that our referral never suggests that the relationship between the president and Ms. Lewinsky, in and of itself, could constitute a high crime or misdemeanor. Indeed, the referral never passes judgment on the president’s relationship with Ms. Lewinsky. The propriety of a relationship is not the concern of our office.
The referral is instead about obstruction of justice, lying under oath, tampering with witnesses and the misuse of power. The referral cannot be understood without appreciating this vital distinction.
This case or matter thus raises the following initial question: Is a plaintiff in a sexual harassment lawsuit entitled to obtain truthful information from the defendant and from associates of the defendant in order to support her claim? That should be easy to answer.
STARR: No citizen who finds himself accused in a sexual harassment case, or in any other kind of case, can lie under oath or otherwise obstruct justice and thereby prevent the plaintiff from discovering evidence and presenting her case.
Paula Jones, a former Arkansas state employee, filed a federal sexual harassment suit against President Clinton in 1994. The president denied those allegations. We will never know whether a jury would have credited the allegations. We also will never know whether the ultimate decision-maker would have found that the alleged facts, if true, constitute sexual harassment. When the president and Ms. Jones settled the case last week, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, in St. Louis, was still considering the preliminary legal question whether the facts as alleged could constitute sexual harassment.
After the suit was first filed in 1994, the president attempted to delay the trial or more broadly the proceedings, until his presidency had concluded. The president claimed a temporary presidential immunity from civil suit. And the case proceeded to the Supreme Court of the United States. At oral argument, the president’s attorney specifically warned our nation’s highest court.
STARR: But if Ms. Jones prevailed, her lawyers would be able to investigate the president’s relationships with other women as is common in sexual harassment cases.
The Supreme Court rejected the president’s constitutional claim of immunity and did so by a nine to zero vote. The court concluded that the Constitution did not provide such a temporary immunity from suit. The idea was simple and powerful: No one is above the law. The Supreme Court sent the case back to trial with words that warrant emphasis. These are the words of our unanimous Supreme Court. “Like every other citizen who invokes” the District Court’s jurisdiction, Ms. Jones — the words of the court again “has a right to an orderly disposition of her claims.”
After the Supreme Court’s decision, the parties started to gather the facts. The parties questioned relevant witnesses in depositions. They submitted written questions. They made requests for documents.
Sexual harassment cases are often “he said-she said” kinds of disputes. Evidence reflecting the behavior of both parties can be critical, including the defendant’s relationships with other employees in the workplace.
Such questions can be uncomfortable, but they occur every day in courts and law offices across our country.
STARR: Individuals in those cases take an oath to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. And no one is entitled to lie under oath simply because he or she does not like the questions or because he believes the case is frivolous or that it is financially motivated or politically motivated.
The Supreme Court has emphatically and repeatedly rejected the notion that there is ever a privilege to lie. The court has stated that there are ways to object to questions. Lying under oath is not one of them.
During this fact-gathering process, Judge Susan Webber Wright in Little Rock followed standard principles of sexual harassment cases. Over repeated objections from the president’s attorneys, the judge permitted inquiries into the president’s relationships with government employees.
On January 8, 1998, for example, Judge Wright stated that questions as to the president’s relationships with other government employees, in the words of the judge, are within the scope of issues in this case.
In making these rulings, Judge Susan Webber Wright recognized that the questions might prove embarrassing. She stated, in her words, “I have never had a sexual harassment case where there was not some embarrassment.” She also stated that she could not protect the parties from embarrassment.
Let me summarize the five points that explain how the president’s relationship with Ms. Lewinsky — what was otherwise private conduct — became a matter of concern to the courts. This is critical to fully understand the nature of the committee’s inquiry.
One, the president was sued for sexual harassment in federal court, and the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in that case that the case should go forward.
STARR: Two. The law of sexual harassment and the law of evidence allow the plaintiff to inquire into the defendant’s relationship with other women — with women in the workplace, which, in this case, included the president’s relationship with Ms. Lewinsky.
Three. Applying those subtle legal principles, Judge Susan Webber Wright repeatedly rejected the president’s objections to such inquiries. The judge instead ordered the president to answer the questions.
Four. It is a federal crime to commit perjury and obstruct justice in civil cases, including sexually harassment cases. Violators are subject to a sentence of up to 10 years imprisonment for obstruction and five years for perjury.
Five. The evidence suggest that the president and Ms. Lewinsky made false statements under oath and obstructed the judicial process in the Jones case by preventing the court from obtaining the truth about their relationship.
At his grand jury appearance, the president invoked a Supreme Court justice’s confirmation hearings as a comparison to his current situation.
STARR: The president’s use of the analogy did not fit the facts in the Monica Lewinsky case, however. But the president, having raised the analogy, let me make it more fitting to the case, here.
Suppose that there is a nominee for a high government position. Assume that in the confirmation process, there is an allegation of sexual harassment. Suppose that several women other than the accuser who have worked with the nominee testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Suppose that the nominee then confers with one of those women ahead of time and that they agree that they will both lie to the Senate Judiciary Committee about their relationship. Assume further that they both do lie under oath about their relationship. And suppose further that a criminal investigation develops and the nominee again lies under oath to the grand jury.
If that were proved to have happened, what would the Senate Judiciary Committee do?
Suppose that the lying under oath and obstruction of justice occurs in a sexual harassment suit brought against the nominee. Suppose further that the false statements and obstruction continue into a subsequent criminal investigation.
STARR: What would this committee do with compelling evidence of perjury and obstruction of justice committed by, for example, a sitting justice of the Supreme Court in a sexual harassment case in which he was the defendant?
Those hypotheticals — which track the facts of this case — put in sharp relief the issue that is before this committee. Let me again stress that it is this House, the House of Representatives, and not an independent counsel, that has the sole power to impeach. But I am suggesting that the consideration of our referral be focused on the issues that are actually presented by the referral.
Let me turn next to the essentials of the referral. That will include the specifics of Ms. Lewinsky’s involvement in the Jones case and the president’s actions in response to that involvement. The key point about the president’s conduct is this. On at least six different occasions, from December 17, 1997 through August 17, 1998, the president had to make a decision. He could choose truth or he could choose deception. On all six occasions, the president chose deception — a pattern of calculated behavior over a span of months.
On December 5, 1997, Ms. Jones’s attorneys identified Ms. Lewinsky as a potential witness.
STARR: Within a day, the president learned that Ms. Lewinsky’s name was on the witness list. After learning this, the president faced his first critical decision.
Would he and Monica Lewinsky tell the truth about their relationship? OR would they provide false information — not just to a spouse or to loved ones, but under oath in a court of law?
Eleven months ago, the president made his decision. At approximately 2 o’clock in the morning on December 17, 1997, the president called Ms. Lewinsky at her Watergate apartment and told her that she was on the witness list. This was news to Ms. Lewinsky. And it bears noting that the president, not his lawyer, made this call to the witness.
During this 2:00 a.m. conversation, which lasted approximately half an hour, the president could have told Ms. Lewinsky that they must tell the truth under oath. The president could have explained that they might face embarrassment, but that as a citizen and as the president, he could not lie under oath and he could not sit by while Monica did so.
The president did not say anything like that. On the contrary, according to Ms. Lewinsky, the president suggested that she could sign an affidavit in the case, and use, under oath, deceptive cover stories that they had devised long ago to explain why Ms. Lewinsky had visited the Oval Office area.
STARR: The president did not explicitly instruct Ms. Lewinsky to lie. He did not have to do so. Ms. Lewinsky testified that the president’s suggestion that they use the pre-existing cover stories amounted to a continuation of the pattern of concealing their intimate relationship. Starting with this conversation, the president and Ms. Lewinsky understood, according to Ms. Lewinsky, that they were both going to make false statements under oath.
The conversation between the president and Ms. Lewinsky on December 17 was a critical turning point. The evidence suggests that the president chose to engage in a criminal act — to reach an understanding with Ms. Lewinsky that they would both make false statements under oath. At that moment, the president’s intimate relationship with a subordinate employee was transformed. It was transformed into an unlawful effort to thwart the judicial process. This was no longer an issue of private conduct.
Recall that the Supreme Court had concluded that Paula Jones was entitled to an “orderly disposition” of her claims. The president’s action on December 17 was his first direct effort to thwart the mandate of the Supreme Court.
STARR: The story continued.
The president faced a second choice. On December 23, 1997, the president submitted under oath a written answer to what lawyers call interrogatories, as the committee knows. The request stated in relevant part: “Please state the name of federal employees with whom you had sexual relations when you were president of the United States.” In his sworn answer, the president said “none.”
On December 28, the president faced a third critical choice. On that day, the president met Ms. Lewinsky at the White House. They discussed the fact that Ms. Lewinsky had been subpoenaed for gifts she had received from the president. According to Ms. Lewinsky, she raised with the president the question of what she should do with the gifts.
Later that day, the president’s personal secretary, Betty Currie, drove to Ms. Lewinsky’s Watergate home. Ms. Lewinsky gave Mrs. Currie a sealed box that contained some of the subpoenaed gifts. Ms. Currie then took the box and stored it under her bed at home.
In her written proffer on February 1, four weeks after the fact, Ms. Lewinsky stated that Mrs. Currie had called her to receive the gifts.
STARR: If so, that necessarily would have meant that the president had asked Ms. Currie to call. It would directly and undeniably implicate him in an obstruction of justice. Ms. Lewinsky later repeated that statement in testimony under oath.
Ms. Currie, for her part, recalls Ms. Lewinsky calling her. But even if Ms. Lewinsky called Ms. Currie, common sense and the evidence suggests some presidential knowledge or involvement, as the referral explains.
Let me add another point about the gifts. In his grand jury appearance in August, the president testified that he had no particular concern about the gifts in December of 1997 when he had talked to Ms. Lewinsky about them. And he thus suggested that he would have had no reason to take part in December in a plan to conceal the gifts. But there is a serious problem with the president’s explanation.
If it were true that the president in December was unconcerned about the gifts, he presumably would have told the truth under oath in his January deposition about the large number of gifts that he and Ms. Lewinsky had exchanged. But he did not tell the truth. At that deposition, when asked about whether he had ever given gifts to Monica Lewinsky, and he had given her several on December 28, the president stated: “I don’t recall. Do you know what they were?”
In short, the critical facts to emphasize about the transfer of gifts are these: First, the president and Ms. Lewinsky met and discussed what should be done with the gifts that had been subpoenaed from her.
STARR: Second, the president’s personal secretary, Ms. Currie, drove later that day to Ms. Lewinsky’s home, her apartment, to pick up the gifts.
Third, Mrs. Currie then stored the box of gifts under her bed.
Meanwhile, the legal process continued to unfold and the president took other actions that had the foreseeable affect of keeping Ms. Lewinsky on the team. The president helped Ms. Lewinsky obtain a job in New York. His efforts began after the Supreme Court’s decision in May 1997, at a time when it had become foreseeable that she could be an adverse witness against the president.
These job related efforts intensified in December of 1997 after Ms. Lewinsky’s name appeared on the witness list. Vernon Jordan, who had been enlisted in the job search for Ms. Lewinsky, testified that he kept the president informed of the status of Ms. Lewinsky’s job search and her affidavit.
On January 7, 1998, Mr. Jordan told the president that Ms. Lewinsky had signed the affidavit.
STARR: Mr. Jordan stated to the president that he was still working on getting her a job. The president replied, “Good.” In other words, the president, knowing that a witness had just signed a false affidavit, encouraged his friend to continue trying to find her a job. After Ms. Lewinsky received a job offer from Revlon on January 12 — thank you. Vernon Jordan called the president and said: “Mission accomplished.
As is often the situation in cases involving this kind of financial assistance, no direct evidence reveals the president’s intent in assisting Ms. Lewinsky in her job efforts. Ms. Lewinsky testified that no one promised her a job for silence; of course, crimes ordinarily do not take place with such explicit discussion.
But federal courts instruct juries that circumstantial evidence is just as probative as direct evidence. And here, the circumstantial evidence here is strong.
At a bare minimum, the evidence suggests that the president’s job assistance efforts stemmed from his desire to placate Ms. Lewinsky so that she would not be tempted — under the burden of an oath — to tell the truth about the relationship. Monica Lewinsky herself recognized that at the time, saying to a friend, “Somebody could construe or say, .Well, they gave her a job to shut her up. They made her happy.”‘
STARR: And given that the president’s plan to testify falsely could succeed only if Ms. Lewinsky went along, the president naturally had to be concerned that Ms. Lewinsky at any time might turn around and decide to tell the truth. Indeed, some wanted her to tell the truth. One of her friends, for example, talked to Ms. Lewinsky about the December 28 meeting with the president.
The friend stated that she was concerned because, in her words, “She didn’t want to see Monica being like Susan McDougal,” and did not want Monica, the friend’s words, “to lie to protect the president.”
Needless to say, any sudden decision by Ms. Lewinsky to tell the truth, whether out of anger at the president or simple desire to be law-abiding, would have been very harmful to the president. That helps to explain his motive in providing job assistance.
In mid-January, Ms. Lewinsky finalized her false affidavit with her attorney, who sent it to Judge Wright’s Court in Little Rock. The affidavit falsely denied a sexual relationship with the president and essentially recounted the cover stories that had discussed during that middle of the night conversation on December 17.
Let me turn to the president’s January 17 deposition. Some have suggested that the president might have been surprised or ambushed at the deposition. Those suggestions are wrong. The president had clear warning that there would be questions about Monica Lewinsky. She had again been named on the December 5 witness list.
On January 12, just five days before the deposition, Ms. Jones’ attorneys identified Ms. Lewinsky as a trial witness. In response, Judge Wright, in Little Rock, approved her as a trial witness.
STARR: Two days later, on January 14, the president’s private attorney asked Ms. Lewinsky’s attorney to fax a copy of the affidavit. During the deposition itself, the president’s attorney stated that the president was, in his words, “fully familiar” with the affidavit.
At the outset of his Jan. 17 deposition, therefore, the president faced a fourth critical decision. Fully aware that he would likely receive questions about Ms. Lewinsky, would the president continue to make false statements under oath — this time in the presence of a United States District judge who would be presiding at the deposition?
At the start of the deposition here in Washington, Judge Susan Webber Wright administered the oath. The president swore to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. As his testimony began, the president, in response to a question from Ms. Jones’ attorneys, stated that he understood he was providing his testimony under the penalty of perjury.
The president was asked a series of questions about Ms. Lewinsky. After a few questions, the president’s attorney — Mr. Bennett — objected to the questioning about Ms. Lewinsky, referring to it as “innuendo.” Mr. Bennett produced Ms. Lewinsky’s false affidavit. Mr. Bennett stated to Judge Wright that Ms. Lewinsky’s affidavit indicated that, in Mr. Bennett’s words, “there was absolutely no sex of any kind in any manner, shape or form.”
STARR: Mr. Bennett stated that the president was fully aware of Ms. Lewinsky’s affidavit.
During Mr. Bennett’s statement, the president sat back and let his attorney mislead Judge Susan Webber Wright. The president said not a word to the judge or, so far as we’re aware, to his attorney.
Judge Wright overruled Mr. Bennett’s objection; the questioning continued. In response, the president made false statements not only about his intimate relationship with Ms. Lewinsky, but about a whole host of matters.
The president testified that he did not know that Vernon Jordan had met with Ms. Lewinsky and talked about the Jones case; that was untrue.
He testified that he could not recall being alone with Ms. Lewinsky; that was untrue.
He testified that he could not recall ever being in the Oval Office hallway with Ms. Lewinsky except perhaps when she was delivering pizza; that was untrue.
He testified that he could not recall gifts exchanged between Ms. Lewinsky and him; that was untrue.
He testified, after a 14-second pause, that he was not sure if he ever talked to Ms. Lewinsky about the possibility that she might be asked to testify in the lawsuit; that was untrue.
The president testified that he did not know whether Ms. Lewinsky had been served a subpoena at the time that he last saw her in December 1997; that was untrue.
When his attorney read Ms. Lewinsky’s affidavit denying a sexual relationship, the president stated that the affidavit was absolutely true; that was untrue.
STARR: The evidence thus suggests that the president — long aware that Ms. Lewinsky was a likely topic of questioning at his deposition — made not one or two but a series of false statements under oath. The president further allowed his attorney to use Ms. Lewinsky’s affidavit, which the president knew to be false, to deceive the court.
The evidence suggests that the president directly contravened the oath he had taken, as well as the Supreme Court’s specific mandate, in which the court had stated that Ms. Jones was entitled, like every other citizen, to a lawful disposition of her case.
As our referral outlines, the president’s deposition did not mark the end of his scheme to conceal. During his deposition testimony, the president referred to his secretary, Betty Currie. The president testified, for example, that Ms. Lewinsky had come to the White House to see Ms. Currie, that Ms. Currie had been involved in assisting Ms. Lewinsky in her job search, and that Ms. Currie had communicated with Vernon Jordan about Mr. Jordan’s assistance to Ms. Lewinsky.
In response to one question at the deposition, the president said he did not know the answer and “you’ll have to ask Betty.”
Given the president’s repeated references to Ms. Currie and his suggestion to Ms. Jones’ attorneys that they contact her, the president had to know that Ms. Jones’ attorneys might want to question Mrs. Currie.
STARR: Shortly after 7 p.m. on Saturday, January 17 of this year, just 2.5 hours after the deposition had concluded, the president attempted to contact Mrs. Currie at her home. The president asked Ms. Currie to come to the White House the next day, which she did, although it was unusual for her to come in on a Sunday.
According to Ms. Currie, the president appeared concerned and he made a number of statements about Ms. Lewinsky to Ms. Currie. The statements included, “You were always there when she was there, right?”; “We were never really alone, you could see and hear everything.”
Ms. Currie concluded that the president wanted her to agree with him when he made these statements. Ms. Currie stated that she did, in fact, indicate her agreement, although she knew that the president and Ms. Lewinsky had been alone and that she could not hear or see them when they were alone. Ms. Currie further testified that the president ran through the same basic statements with her again on either January 20th or the 21st.
What is important with respect to these two episodes is that, at the time the president made these statements, he knew that they were false. He knew he had been alone with Ms. Lewinsky. He knew Ms. Currie could not see or hear everything. The president thus could not have been trying to refresh his recollection, as he subsequently suggested.
That raises the question: Is there a legitimate explanation for the president to have said those things in that manner to Ms. Currie. The circumstances suggest not.
STARR: The facts suggest that the president was attempting to improperly coach Mrs. Currie at a time when he could foresee that she was a potential witness in Jones versus Clinton.
The president’s next major decision came in the days immediately after January 21st. On the 21st, “The Washington Post” reported the story of Ms. Lewinsky’s relationship with the president.
After the public disclosure of his relationship with Ms. Lewinsky, and the ongoing criminal investigation, the president faced a decision. Would he admit the relationship publicly, correct his testimony in the Jones case, and ask for the indulgence of the American people? OR would he continue to deny the truth?
For this question, the president consulted with others. According to Dick Morris, the political consultant, the president and he talked on January 21st. Mr. Morris suggested that the president publicly confess. The president replied, “But what about the legal thing, you know, the legal thing, you know, Starr and perjury and all?”
Mr. Morris suggested that they take a poll. The president agreed. Mr. Morris called with the results. He stated that the American people were willing to forgive adultery but not perjury or obstruction of justice. The president replied, “Well, we just have to win then.”
STARR: Over the next several months, it became apparent that the strategy to win had many prongs. First, the president denied the truth publicly and emphatically. Second, he publicly promised to cooperate with the investigation. Third, the president deflected and diverted the investigation by telling aides false stories that were then relayed to the grand jury here in Washington. Fourth, he refused invitations to testify to the grand jury for over six months. Fifth, his administration delayed the investigation through multiple privilege claims, each of which has been rejected by the federal courts. Sixth, surrogates of the president attacked the credibility and the legitimacy of the grand jury investigation. Seventh, surrogates of the president attempted to convince the Congress and the American people that the matter was unimportant.
The first step was for the president to deny the truth publicly. For this, political polling led to Hollywood staging. The president’s California friend and producer Harry Thomason flew to Washington and advised the president that the president needed to be very forceful in denying the relationship. On Monday, Jan. 26, in the Roosevelt Room, before members of Congress and other citizens, the president provided a clear and emphatic public statement denying the relationship.
The president also made false statements to his Cabinet and to his aides. They then spoke publicly and professed their belief in the president.
STARR: The second step was to promise cooperation. The president told the American people on several television and radio shows on January 21 and 22 that, in his words, “I’m going to do my best to cooperate with the investigation.”
The third step was the president’s refusal to provide testimony to the grand jury, despite six invitations to do so and despite his public promise to cooperate. Refusing invitations to provide information to a grand jury in a federal criminal investigation — and one authorized by the attorney general of the United States; and one in which there is a high national interest in prompt completion — was inconsistent with the January promise of the president to cooperate, and with the general statutory duty of all government officials to cooperate with federal criminal investigations.
As a fourth step, the president not only refused to testify himself, but he authorized the use of various governmental privileges to delay the testimony of many of his taxpayer-paid assistants.
The extensive use of governmental privileges against grand jury and criminal investigations has, of course, been a pattern through this administration. Most notably, the White House cited privilege in 1993 to prevent Justice Department and Park Police officials from reviewing documents in Vincent Foster’s office in the days after his tragic death.
In the Lewinsky investigation, the president asserted two privileges — executive privilege and a government attorney-client privilege. A subordinate administration official, without objection from the president, claimed a previously unheard of privilege that was called the protective function privilege. The privileges were asserted to prevent full testimony of several White House aides.
STARR: They were asserted the prevent the full testimony of sworn law enforcement officers of the Secret Service.
In asserting executive privilege, the president was plowing headlong into the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision 24 years ago in United States versus Richard Nixon.
There, the Supreme Court ruled that executive privilege was overcome by the need for relevant information and evidence in criminal proceedings. And thus, it came as no surprise that Chief Judge Norma Holloway Johnson of this district rejected President Clinton’s effort to use executive privilege to prevent disclosure of relevant evidence.
In asserting protective function and government attorney-client privileges, the administration was asking the federal courts to make up one new privilege out of whole cloth, and it was asking them to apply another privilege in a context in which no federal court had ever applied it before. And thus it, again, came as little surprise that the federal courts rejected the administration’s claims.
Indeed, as to the government attorney-client claim, the D.C. Circuit and the District Court, like the Eighth Circuit a year ago, stated that the president’s legal position not only was wrong but would authorize, in the court’s words, “a gross misuse of public assets.” The Supreme Court refused to grant review of the cases not withstanding the administration’s two strongly-worded requests, petitions for certorai.
This point bears emphasis. The administration justified its many privilege claims by claiming an interest in protecting the presidency, not the president personally. But that justification is dubious for two reasons.
First, Presidents Carter and Reagan waived all government privileges at the outset of criminal investigations in which they were involved. The example set by those two presidents demonstrate that such privileges in criminal investigations are manifestly unnecessary in order to protect the presidency.
STARR: Second, these novel privilege claims were quite weak as a matter of law. And that raises a question — What was it about the Monica Lewinsky matter that generated the administration’s particularly aggressive approach to privileges?
The circumstantial evidence suggests an answer — delay. Indeed, when our office sought to have the Supreme Court of the United States decide all three privilege claims at once this past June, the administration opposed expedited consideration. Not only did the administration invoke these three losing privileges, but the president publicly suggested that he had invoked — he had not invoked executive privilege when, in fact, he had.
On March 24, 1998, while traveling in Africa, the president was asked about executive privilege. He stated in response, “You should ask someone who knows. I haven’t discussed that with the lawyers. I don’t know.”
But White House Counsel Charles Ruff had filed an affidavit in federal court before Judge Johnson only seven days earlier in which he swore that he had discussed the assertion of executive privilege with the president and that the president had approved its invocation.
After Chief Judge Johnson ruled against the president, the president then dropped the executive privilege claim in the Supreme Court.
STARR: And then, in August, the president explained to the grand jury why he had dropped the claim. The president stated: “I didn’t really want to advance an executive privilege claim in this case beyond having it litigated.”
But this statement made to the grand jury was inaccurate. In truth, the president had again asserted executive privilege only a few days earlier. And a few days after his grand jury testimony, the president again asserted executive privilege to prevent the testimony of Bruce Lindsey. These executive privilege cases continue to this day; indeed, one case is now pending in the D.C. Circuit.
When the president and the administration assert privileges in a context involving the president’s personal issues; when the president pretends publicly that he knows nothing about the executive privilege assertion; when the president and the administration rebuff our office’s efforts to expedite the cases to the Supreme Court; when the president contends in the grand jury that he never really wanted to assert executive privilege beyond having it litigated, despite the fact that he had asserted it six days earlier. And would do so again, 11 days afterwards, there is substantial and credible evidence that the president has misused the privileges available to his high office. And the misuse delayed and impeded the federal grand jury’s investigation.
The fifth tactic was diversion and deflection.
STARR: The president made false statements to his aides and associates about the nature of the relationship, as we have seen, with knowledge that they could testify to that effect to the grand jury sitting here in Washington.
The president did not simply say to his associates that the allegations were false or that the issue was a private matter that he did not want to discuss. Instead, the president concocted alternative scenarios that were then repeated to the federal grand jury.
The final two tactics were related — to attack the grand jury investigation, including the Justice Department prosecutors who serve in my office; to declare a war, in the words of one presidential adviser and ally; and to shape public opinion about the proper resolution of the entire matter.
It is best that I leave it to someone outside our office to elaborate on the war against the office. But no one really disputes that these tactics were employed and continue to be employed to this very day.
This strategy proceeded for nearly seven months. It changed course in August after Monica Lewinsky reached an immunity agreement with our office, and the grand jury, after deliberation, issued a subpoena to the president.
The president testified before the grand jury on August 17th. Beforehand, many in Congress and in the public advised that the president should tell the truth. They cautioned that the president should not lie before the grand jury.
Senator Hatch, for example, stated that, “So help me, if he lies before the grand jury, that will be grounds for impeachment.” Senator Moynihan simply stated that perjury before the grand jury was, in his view, an impeachable offense.
The evidence suggests that the president did not heed this senatorial advice.
Although admitting to an ambiguously defined “inappropriate relationship,” the president defied that he had lied under oath at his civil deposition.
STARR: He also denied any conduct that would establish that he had lied under oath at that deposition. The president thus denied certain conduct with Ms. Lewinsky and devised a variety of tortured and false definitions.
The president’s answers have not been well received. Congressman Schumer, the senator-elect for one, stated that “it is clear that the president lied when he testified before the grand jury.” Congressman Meehan stated that the president engaged in a “dangerous game of verbal Twister.” Indeed, the president made false statements to the grand jury and then that same evening spoke to the nation and criticized all attempts to show that he had done so as invasive and irrelevant.
The president’s approach appeared to contravene the oath that he took at the start of the grand jury proceedings. It also disregarded the admonitions of those members of Congress who warned that lying to a grand jury would not be tolerated. It also discounted Judge Susan Webber Wright’s many orders in which she had ruled that this kind of evidence was relevant in the Jones case.
And thus ended the over-eight-month journey that had begun on December 5, 1997, when Monica Lewinsky’s name appeared on the witness list. The evidence suggests that the eight months included false statements under oath, false statements to the American people, false statements to the president’s cabinet and his aides, witness tampering, obstruction of justice, and the use of presidential authority and power in an effort to conceal the truth of the relationship and to delay the investigation.
STARR: Given the serious nature of perjury and obstruction of justice, regardless of its setting, it is obvious that the actions of the president and Ms. Lewinsky to conceal the truth warranted criminal investigation. Let me explain how the investigation came to be handled by our office rather than by the Department of Justice or by some other independent counsel. The explanation is straightforward.
On January 8, an attorney in our office was informed that a witness, who was Linda Tripp, a witness in prior investigations in our office, had information she wanted to provide. A message was conveyed back that she should provide her information directly. Ms. Tripp called our office on Jan. 12. In that conversation and later, she provided us a substantial amount of information.
Let me pause here and emphasize that our office, like most law enforcement agencies, has received innumerable tips about a wide variety of matters over the past four years — from Swiss bank accounts to drug smuggling. You name it. We have heard it. In each case, we must make an initial assessment whether it is a serious tip or a crank call, as well as an assessment of jurisdictional issues.
We handled the information from Ms. Tripp in this same manner. When we confirmed that the information appeared credible, we reached out to the Department of Justice, as we have done regularly during my tenure as independent counsel.
STARR: We contacted Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder within 48 hours after Ms. Tripp provided us information. And we found him appropriately at a basketball game, in the evening hours of that day.
The next day, we fully informed the deputy attorney general about Ms. Tripp’s information. About Ms. Tripp’s tapes and the questions concerning their legality under state law. About the consensual FBI recording of Ms. Tripp and Ms. Lewinsky. About the indications that Vernon Jordan was providing employment assistance to a witness who had the potential to harm the president, a fact pattern that we had seen in the Webster Hubbell investigation, which I shall describe presently.
We discussed jurisdiction. We noted that it is in everyone’s interest to avoid time consuming jurisdictional challenges. We stated that the Lewinsky investigation could be considered outside our jurisdiction as then constituted. We stressed that someone needed to work the case, the Justice Department or an independent counsel.
Later that evening, the deputy attorney general telephoned and reported that the attorney general had tentatively decided to assign the matter to us. Before her decision was final, we reviewed the evidence in detail with two experienced career prosecutors in the Justice Department. One senior Justice Department prosecutor listened to portions of the FBI tape, the consensual recording. The attorney general made her final decision on Friday, January 16.
STARR: That day, through a senior career prosecutor, the attorney general asked the three-judge special division to expand our office’s jurisdiction. The special division granted the request that day.
In short, our entry into this investigation was standard, albeit expedited, procedure.
Seven months, later, after conducting the factual investigation and after the president’s grand jury testimony, the question we faced was what to do with the evidence. The chairman referred to section 595(c) of the Independent Counsel Statute, which requires an independent counsel investigating possible crimes to provide to the House of Representatives, in the words of the statute, “substantial and credible information that may constitute grounds for an impeachment.”
This reporting provision suggests a statutory preference that possible criminal wrongdoing by a president be addressed in the first instance by the House of Representatives. It also requires an analysis of the law of impeachment.
You have had hearings on that subject, but let me say that as we understood the text of the Constitution, its history and relevant precedents, it was clear to us that obstruction of justice in its various forms, including perjury, may constitute grounds for an impeachment — the language of the statute.
Even apart from any abuses of presidential authority and power, the evidence of perjury and obstruction of justice required us to refer the information to the House. Perjury and obstruction of justice are, of course, serious crimes.
In 1790, the first Congress, sitting in New York, passed a criminal law that banned perjury. A violator was subject to three years imprisonment. Today, federal criminal law makes perjury a felony punishable by five years imprisonment.
In cases involving public officials, courts treat false statements with special condemnation.
STARR: United States District Judge Royce Lamberth here in Washington recently sentenced Ronald Blackley, the former chief of staff to the former secretary of Agriculture, to 37 months imprisonment for false statements. The District Court Judge Lamberth stated, in his words, “The court has a duty to send a message to other high-level government officials that there is a severe penalty to be paid for providing false information under oath.”
Although perjury and obstruction of justice are serious federal crimes, some have suggested that they are not high crimes or misdemeanors when the underlying events concern the president’s private actions. Under this theory, a president’s obstruction and perjury must involve concealment of official actions.
This interpretation does not appear in the Constitution itself. Moreover, the Constitution lists bribery as a high crime or misdemeanor. And if a president involved in a civil suit bribed the judge to rule in his favor or bribed a witness to provide favorable testimony, there could be no textual question that the president had committed a high crime or misdemeanor under the plain language of Article II even though the underlying events would not have involved his official duties.
In addition, virtually everyone agrees that serious crimes such as murder and rape would be impeachable even though they do not involve official duties.
Justice Story, in the last century, stated in his famous commentaries that there is not a syllable in the Constitution which confines impeachment to official acts. With all respect, an absolute and inflexible requirement of a connection to official duties appears fairly viewed to be an incorrect interpretation of the Constitution.
History and practice support the conclusion that perjury in particular is a high crime and misdemeanor. Perjury has been the basis, as the committee knows, for the removal of several judges. As far as we know, no one has questioned whether perjury was a high crime or misdemeanor in those cases.
In addition, as several of the scholars who appeared before you testified, and to whom the chairman referred, perjury seems to have been recognized as a high crime or misdemeanor at the time of the founding of our republic.
STARR: And the House manager’s report in the impeachment of Judge Walter Nixon for perjury stated, “It is difficult to imagine an act more subversive to the legal process than lying from the witness stand.”
And finally, I note that the federal sentencing guidelines include bribery and perjury in the same guideline, reflecting the common-sense conclusion that bribery and perjury are equivalent means of interfering with the governmental process.
For these reasons, we concluded that perjury and obstruction of justice, like bribery, may constitute grounds for an impeachment. Having said that, let me again emphasize my role here. We had a judgment to make, but whether the president’s actions are, in fact, grounds for an impeachment, or some other sanction, is a decision in the sole discretion of the Congress.
A final point warrants mention in this respect. Criminal prosecution and punishment are not the same as, or a substitute for, congressionally imposed sanctions. As the Supreme Court stated in a 1993 case, “The framers recognized that most likely there would be two sets of proceedings for individuals who committed impeachable offenses — the impeachment trial and a separate criminal trial.” In fact, the Constitution explicitly provides for two separate proceedings.
STARR: The framers deliberately separated the two forums to avoid raising the specter of bias and to ensure independent judgment.
Our task over the past several years has involved far more than simply the Lewinsky matter. The pattern of obstruction of justice, false statements and misuse of executive authority in the Lewinsky investigation did not occur in a vacuum.
In August 1994…
JACKSON LEE: Mr. Chairman, I seek a ruling of the chair. Mr. Chairman, I seek a ruling of the chair.
HYDE: Well, all right. What — I take it the gentlelady has a point of order.
JACKSON LEE: Yes, I do, Mr. Chairman.
HYDE: State your point.
JACKSON LEE: Mr. Chairman, I respectfully raise this point of order with the understanding that we have not received, or we are not receiving, any referral on the issues dealing with Madison Guaranty, Whitewater, Travelgate or Filegate. And in fact, as I understand, there is an announcement today that the findings of guilt against the president on the issues of Travelgate or Filegate do not exist, referred in pages 46 and 47 of the statements of Mr. Starr.
I therefore ask, Mr. Chairman, whether Mr. Starr’s remarks, as he begins them at this point, are germane. And secondarily, whether or not the president’s being denied his Fifth Amendment rights by lack of notice and a denial of liberty by not having the notice of any presentations being made on Whitewater, Madison Guarantee, Filegate and Travelgate.
I believe Mr. Starr’s remarks are now out of order. And I believe that he should — that there should be a ruling that his remarks are not germane, and frankly, that if he proceeds, he will be denying the president and any other parties the constitutional right of due process in the Fifth Amendment.
JACKSON LEE: And Mr. Chairman, as you well recognize, I raised this question when we began some two or three months ago, whether or not this committee would abide by the constitutional provision of the Fifth Amendment. I offered an amendment to that extent. I was told by the chair at that time that under the rules of the House, we would be guided by the Fifth Amendment, and I believe that the due process rights of the president and other parties are being denied with the representations that Mr. Starr is about to make. I’d ask the chair for his ruling.
HYDE: Well the chair overrules the gentle lady’s point of order, and the witness will continue.
JACKSON LEE: I thank the chair.
STARR: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I had said that it was in August of 1994 that I took over the Madison Guaranty investigation from Robert Fiske.
Over the ensuing years, I have essentially become independent counsel for five distinct investigations: For Madison Guaranty and Whitewater; for Foster-related matters; for the Travel Office; for the FBI files matter; and for the Lewinsky investigation, as well as for a variety of obstruction and related matters that arose out of those five major investigations.
A very brief overview of those investigations may assist the committee in its assessment of the president’s conduct.
First, some statistics. The chairman noted that the investigation has resulted in conviction of 14 individuals, including the former Associate Attorney General of the United States, Webster Hubbell, the then- sitting Governor of Arkansas, Jim Guy Tucker, and the Clintons’ two business partners, Jim and Susan McDougal.
STARR: We are proud not only of the cases that we have won, but of our decisions not to indict.
To take one well-known example, the Senate Whitewater Committee sent our office public criminal referrals on several individuals. The committee stated in its June 21, 1996, public letter that the testimony of Susan Thomas’ was “particularly troubling and suggests a possible violation of law.” But this office did not seek charges against her.
Apart from indictments and convictions, this office has also faced an extraordinary number of legal disputes — on issues of privilege, on jurisdiction, substantive criminal law and the like. By my count, pardon me, at least 17 of our cases have been decided by the federal courts of appeals, and we have been fortunate in prevailing in all 17. One privilege case arising in our Travel Office investigation went to the D.C. Circuit where we prevailed by a two to one decision and then to the Supreme Court where we lost by a six to three decision.
We had to litigate in the courts as our investigation ran into roadblocks and hurdles that slowed us down.
STARR: It is true that the administration produced a great amount of information, but unlike the prosecutors in the investigations involving Presidents Carter and Reagan, we have been forced to go to court time and time again to seek information from the executive branch and to fight a multitude of privilege claims asserted by the administration — every single one of which we have won.
In sum, the office where I serve has achieved a superb record in courts — of law of significant and hard-fought convictions, of fair and wise decisions not to charge, of thorough and accurate reports on the Vincent Foster death and the Monica Lewinsky matters, of legal victories in various courts. We go to court and not on the talk show circuit. And our records show that there is a bright line between law and politics, between courts and polls. It leaves the polls to the politicians and the spin doctors. We are officers of the court who live in the world of law. We have presented our cases in court and, with very rare exception, we have won.
The center of all this, the core of our Arkansas-based investigation, was Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan. Madison was a federally insured savings & loan in Little Rock, Arkansas, run by Jim and Susan McDougal. Like many savings & loans in the 1980s, Madison was fraudulently operated.
STARR: Mrs. Clinton and other lawyers at the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock performed legal work for Madison in the 1980s. Madison first received attention in March 1992 when a New York Times report raised several issues about the relationships between the Clintons and the McDougals in connection with Madison Guaranty.
Federal bank examiners examined Madison in 1992 and 1993, and the regulators sent criminal referrals to the Justice Department. And the Justice Department then launched a criminal investigation of Madison Guaranty in November 1993.
In part because of the relationship of the Clintons to the McDougals, Attorney General Reno appointed Bob Fiske in January 1994. I was appointed independent counsel in August 1994 to continue the investigation.
Madison exemplified the troubled practices of savings and loans in the 1980s. The failure of the institution ultimately cost federal taxpayers approximately $65 million. Congresswoman Waters put it this way in a 1995 hearing: “By any standard, Madison Guaranty was a disaster…. It gambled with investments, cooked the books and ultimately bilked the taxpayers of the United States…. Madison,” she went on, “is a metaphor for the S&L crisis.”
The McDougals’ operation of Madison raised serious questions whether bank funds had been used illegally to assist business and political figures in Arkansas, such as Jim Guy Tucker, the governor- to-be, and the then governor, Governor Clinton.
STARR: As to the Clintons, the question arose primarily because they were partners with the McDougals in the Whitewater Development Company. The Whitewater Corporation initially controlled and developed approximately 230 acres of property on the White River in Northern Arkansas. Given Jim McDougal’s role at the center of both institutions and given Whitewater’s constant financial difficulties, there were two important questions: Were Madison funds diverted to benefit Whitewater? If so, were the Clintons either involved in or knowledgeable of that diversion of funds?
Those questions were not idle speculation. In early 1994, a Little Rock judge and businessman, David Hale, pled guilty to certain unrelated federal crimes. As part of his plea, David Hale told Mr. Fiske’s team that he had received money as a result of a loan from Madison in 1986. He said that his company loaned it to others as part of a scheme to help some members of the Arkansas political establishment.
One loan of $300,000 went to Susan McDougal’s make-believe company, which she called Master Marketing. Based on our investigation, we now know that some $50,000 of the proceeds of that loan went to benefit the Whitewater Corporation. David Hale stated that he had discussed the Susan McDougal loan with then-Governor Clinton, including at a meeting in 1986 with Jim McDougal and the governor.
STARR: In August 1994 when I first arrived in Little Rock, and building on Mr. Fiske’s work, we devised a plan.
First, based on the testimony of David Hale and others, as well as documentary evidence, we would take steps, if appropriate, if the evidence warranted, to seek an indictment of Jim and Susan McDougal and others involved in what clearly appeared to be criminal transactions. If a Little Rock jury convicted the McDougals or others, we would then obtain their testimony and determine whether they had other relevant information — including, of course, whether the McDougals possessed information that would either exonerate or incriminate the Clintons as to Madison and Whitewater matters. This approach was the time-honored and professional way to conduct an investigation.
We garnered a number of guilty pleas in my first year. One was from Webster Hubbell, who had worked at the Rose Law Firm and was knowledgeable about its work with Madison, including that of Mrs. Clinton as a lawyer at the Rose Firm. In addition, Robert Palmer, a real estate appraiser, pled guilty to fraudulently doctoring Madison documents to deceive federal bank examiners. Three other associates of McDougal pled guilty and agreed to cooperate.
In August 1995, a year after I was appointed by the Special Division, a federal grand jury in Little Rock indicted Jim and Susan McDougal and the then-sitting Governor of Arkansas, Jim Guy Tucker. The case went to trial in March 1996 amid charges by all three defendants and their allies that the case was a political witch hunt. Some predicted that an Arkansas jury would never convict the sitting governor. These expectations were heightened when Governor — excuse me — when President Clinton was subpoenaed as a defense witness in Governor Tucker’s trial.
STARR: The president testified for the defense from the Map Room of the White House. During his sworn testimony, the president testified, as a defense witness, that did not know about the Susan McDougal loan nor had he ever been in a meeting with Hale and McDougal about the loan. He also testified that he had never received a loan from Madison. This was important testimony. Its truth or falsity went to the core issue of our investigation.
On May 28, 1996, all three defendants were convicted — Jim McDougal of 18 felonies, Susan McDougal of four felonies, and Governor Tucker of two felonies. Governor Tucker announced his resignation that day. After his conviction, Jim McDougal began cooperating with our investigation. We spent many hours with him gaining additional insights and facts.
He informed our career investigators and prosecutors that David Hale was accurate. According to Jim McDougal, President Clinton had testified falsely at the McDougal-Tucker trial. Jim McDougal testified he had been at a meeting with David Hale and Governor Clinton about the Master Marketing loan.
And Jim McDougal testified that Governor Clinton had received a loan from Madison. Jim McDougal said on one of his first sessions with our office following his conviction that the president’s trial testimony was, in his words, “at variance with the truth.”
STARR: In late 1997…
JACKSON LEE: Mr. Chairman, I have a point of order.
HYDE: The gentlelady — I would appreciate it if she wouldn’t interrupt, but go ahead and state your point.
JACKSON LEE: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and I appreciate the need for us to proceed, and I want to proceed fairly. That’s all I’m asking for.
HYDE: I’m sure you do.
JACKSON LEE: Mr. Chairman, I have stated earlier my objections to, one, hearsay, but frankly, the direction of the testimony.
Frankly, I raise again the question of germaneness with respect to representations on Whitewater and Madison Guaranty and due process, Mr. Chairman. I think this testimony is inappropriate. There is no attempt to cover up, but I do not have before me a referral from Mr. Starr or any of this deputies on the question of Whitewater, Filegate or Travelgate.
Mr. Chairman, this testimony is not germane, and it is a denial of due process.
HYDE: I thank the gentlelady.
This committee hearing is being conducted pursuant to notice — pursuant to House resolution 581. That resolution directs the committee to — and I quote — “investigate fully and completely whether sufficient grounds exist for the House of Representatives to exercise its constitutional power to impeach William Jefferson Clinton, president of the United States of America” — close quote.
That is the wide-open range that we have given ourselves in this resolution in contradistinction to the Democratic resolution which wanted a narrow inquiry. That very issue was — was debated and voted on.
And so the gentleman — the witness testimony is perfectly germane and consonant with House resolution 581, and therefore, the gentlelady’s point of order is overruled and the witness will continue.
JACKSON LEE: Mr. Chairman, I would like to appeal the ruling of the chair.
BRYANT: Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman.
HYDE: Would you consult with your ranking member and see if…
BRYANT: Mr. Chairman, I’d like to vote on that ruling.
JACKSON LEE: I will withdraw that, but I state made my objection.
HYDE: The gentlelady has renounced…
HYDE: Please, we’re trying to move along. And I appreciate the…
JACKSON LEE: In the sense of comity, Mr. Chairman, I withdraw my desire for a vote.
BRYANT: Mr. Chairman, I just asked for a vote, that’s all.
HYDE: Well, I’m going to deny my friend, Mr. Bryant’s request, and then you and I can struggle over the noon hour. But I would like to move ahead.
JACKSON LEE: Mr. Chairman, is my objection registered?
HYDE: OH indeed, it’s registered — twice.
JACKSON LEE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
HYDE: And we’ll register it every half hour, if you would like.
JACKSON LEE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you.
HYDE: The witness will continue please.
STARR: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
In late 1997, we — in our office — considered whether this evidence that I just described justified a referral to Congress. We drafted a report. But we concluded that it would be inconsistent with the statutory standard because of the difficulty of establishing the truth with a sufficient degree of confidence.
We also weighed a prudential factor in reaching that decision. There were still two outstanding witnesses who might later corroborate or contradict the McDougal and Hale accounts: Jim Guy Tucker and Susan McDougal.
In 1998, we were finally able to obtain information from Governor Tucker.
STARR: It had taken four long years to hear from the governor.
He pled guilty in a tax conspiracy case, and he ultimately testified before the Little Rock grand jury in March and April of this year. But he had little knowledge of the loan to Susan McDougal’s fictitious company and the president’s possible involvement in it.
He did shed light on the overall transactions involving Castle Grande and Madison. Importantly, as to one subject, Governor Tucker exonerated the president, regarding longstanding questions whether the president and Governor Tucker had a conversation about the Madison referrals in the White House in October 1993. The governor exonerated the president.
The remaining witness who perhaps could shed light on the issue was Susan McDougal, and therein lies a story that has caused literally years of delay and added expense to the investigation.
Because the proceeds from the fraudulent loan that Susan McDougal received had benefited the Clintons — the proceeds were to use to pay off obligations of the Whitewater development company for which the Clintons were potentially personally liable.
Susan McDougal was subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury in August 1996. She was asked several questions going to the very heart of the investigation, including these: “Did you ever discuss your loan from David Hale with William Jefferson Clinton? To your knowledge, did William Jefferson Clinton testify truthfully during the course of your trial?”
Susan McDougal refused to answer any of the questions.
STARR: “To your knowledge, did William Jefferson Clinton testify truthfully during the course of your trial?” Susan McDougal refused to answer any questions. District Judge Susan Webber Wright in Little Rock then held her in civil contempt, a decision later upheld unanimously by the United States Court of Appeals in St. Louis.
The month of September 1996 thus was a crucial time for our office in its attempt to obtain Susan McDougal’s lawful testimony. On September 23, 1996, just two weeks after Ms. McDougal had been found in contempt by Judge Wright, President Clinton was interviewed on PBS. The president said, “There’s a lot of evidence to support,” his words, “various charges that Susan McDougal had made against our office.” But the president cited no evidence.
The president’s comments can reasonably be described as supportive of Ms. McDougal’s decision to disobey the court order. So far as we are aware, no sitting president ever has publicly indicated his agreement with a convicted felon’s stated reason for refusing to obey a federal court order to testify. Essentially, the president of the United States, the chief executive, sided with a convicted felon against the United States, as represented by United States District Judge, now Chief Judge Susan Webber Wright, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit and our office.
STARR: The president was also asked in the interview whether he would consider pardoning Ms. McDougal. The president refused to rule out a pardon.
The president’s answers to these questions were roundly criticized. A New York Times editorial captured the point well, stating that the president’s remarks “undercut a legal process that is going forward in an orderly way.”
A separate area of our original investigation concerned the Rose Law Firm’s work in 1985 and 1986 for Madison. It appeared that Rose may have assisted Madison Guaranty in performing legal work concerning a piece of property, known alternatively as IDC or Castle Grande, which involved McDougal, Madison Guaranty, and fraudulent transactions. The complicated real estate deal known as Castle Grande was structured to avoid state banking regulatory requirements and involved violations of federal criminal law.
Grand jury subpoenas were issued in 1994 and 1995 to the Rose Law Firm and to the president and to Mrs. Clinton seeking all documents relating to Madison and Castle Grande. We ultimately learned that Mrs. Clinton had performed some legal work related to Madison’s Castle Grande/IDC transactions, but the whole issue remained partially enshrouded in mystery as our office and the Senate Whitewater Committee investigated the issue in 1995.
The problem was that some of the best evidence regarding Mrs. Clinton’s work — her Rose Law Firm billing records and her time sheets for 1985 and 1986 at the Rose firm — could not be found. The missing records raised suspicions by late 1995 and became a public issue. Webster Hubbell and Vincent Foster, Jr. had been responsible during the 1992 campaign for gathering information about Mrs. Clinton’s work for Madison Guaranty. Yet the billing records could not be found. The Rose firm’s work for Madison Guaranty could not be fully pieced together. The Rose firm no longer had the records.
On Jan. 5, 1996, the records of Mrs. Clinton’s activities — her legal work for Madison were finally produced under unusual circumstances. The records detailed Mrs. Clinton’s work on a variety of Madison issues, including the preparation of an option agreement that Madison Guaranty used to deceive federal bank examiners as part of the Castle Grande deal. After a thorough investigation, we have found no explanation how the billing records got where they were or why they were not discovered and produced earlier. It remains a mystery to this day. Then, in the summer of 1997, a second set of these billing records was found in the attic of the late Vincent Foster Jr.’s house in Little Rock. The time sheets for Rose’s work in 1985-86 for Madison Guaranty have never been found.
STARR: We should note that Webster Hubbell may have additional information pertaining to Castle Grande — whether exculpatory or inculpatory — that we have been unable to obtain.
Mr. Hubbell was at the Rose law firm at the relevant time in 1985 and 1986. He gathered information about the Madison issue in the 1992 campaign, and his father-in-law was involved in the Castle Grande deal.
Two other important facts suggest that Mr. Hubbell may have additional information. First, on March 13, 1994, after a meeting at the White House where it had discussed — it had been discussed that Mr. Hubbell would resign from the Justice Department, then Chief of Staff Mack McLarty told Mrs. Clinton that, in his words, “We’re going to be supportive of Webb.”
As this criminal investigation was beginning in 1994 under Bob Fiske and then later my office, Mr. Hubbell received payments totaling nearly $550,000 from several companies and individuals. Many were campaign contributors. These individuals had been contacted through the White House chief of staff, Mr. McLarty, and others.
In June 1994, during a week in which he made several visits to the White House, Indonesian businessman James Riady met with Webster Hubbell and then wired him $100,000. One of the individuals who arranged for Mr. Hubbell to receive a consulting contract was Vernon Jordan.
The company that he convinced to hire, to engage Mr. Hubbell was MacAndrews & Forbes, the parent company of Revlon. This is the same company that hired Monica Lewinsky upon Mr. Jordan’s recommendation.
As he was destined later do with Monica Lewinsky, Mr. Jordan personally informed the president about his — Mr. Jordan’s assistance — to Mr. Hubbell.
Most of the $550,000 was given to Mr. Hubbell for little or no work. This rush of generosity obviously gives rise to an inference that the money was essentially a gift. And if it was a gift, why was it given?
This money was given despite the fact that Mr. Hubbell was under criminal investigation for fraudulent billing and was a key witness in the Madison Guaranty investigation.
Second, as is known to the public, on certain prison tapes while Mr. Hubbell was in prison, he said to his wife: “I won’t raise those allegations that might open it up on Hillary.”
On another tape, Mr. Hubbell said to White House employee Marsha Scott that he might “have to roll over one more time.”
Mr. Hubbell’s statements, when combined with the amount of money he received and the information he was in a position to know, raise very troubling questions.
Mr. Hubbell is currently under federal indictment; there is a presumption of innocence; and it would be inappropriate to say more about that at this time.
Let me add a few brief words about the Travel Office matter. This phase of our work arose out of investigations by others of the 1993 firings of Billy Dale and six career co-workers.
STARR: As has already been indicated in comments from a member, we do not anticipate that any evidence gathered in that investigation will be relevant to the committee’s current task. The president was not involved in our Travel Office investigation.
As to the status of that investigation, it was on hold for quite awhile in part because of litigation. The investigation is not terminated, but we expect to announce any actions and decisions soon.
As to the FBI file matter, there are outstanding issues we are attempting to resolve with respect to one individual, but I can address two issues of relevance to the committee’s work.
First, our investigation, which has been thorough, found no evidence that anyone higher than Mr. Livingstone or Mr. Marcosa (ph) were in any way involved in ordering the FBI files from the FBI.
Second, we have found no evidence that information contained in the files of former officials was actually used for an improper purpose.
Let me now mention a few words about our personnel, our process and our reflections. The character and the conduct and the men and women of our office, largely career professionals who take their jobs and their oaths very seriously, have been badly distorted. Perhaps that is inevitable given the nature of the issues involved, given the fact that the president of the United States is the subject of a criminal investigation. But it is regrettable, so let me offer some truth about our office.
I will start with our personnel. During the Lewinsky investigation, my staff has included skilled and experienced prosecutors from around the country. They have brought an enormous amount of experience and expertise to the office. My colleagues, during this past year, have included former United States attorney, several members of this committee are former United States attorneys; the chief of the Public Corruption Unit of the United States Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles; the chief of the Public Corruption Unit of the United States Attorney’s Office in Miami; the chief of the Bank Fraud Unit of the United States Attorney’s Office in San Antonio; prosecutors with lengthy experience in the public integrity section of the Department of Justice; seasoned federal prosecutors from ten different states and the District of Columbia; and veteran state prosecutors from Maryland and Oregon.
The office has also benefited from the assistance of Sam Dash, chief counsel of the Senate Watergate Committee, who has offered grade wisdom during my tenure. Professor Ronald Rotunda, constitutional law scholar from the University of Illinois, has likewise provided advice on a variety of issues. The office has received assistance from professors at the University of Michigan, the University of Illinois, Notre Dame and George Washington.
Moreover, former law clerks for six different Supreme Court justices have served on my staff during the past year.
During the Lewinsky investigation, the office also relied on many talented investigators with extensive service in the FBI and law enforcement agencies. And the FBI laboratory yet again provided superb assistance to us, as it has throughout the Madison-Whitewater investigation, with the strong support of Judge Freeh.
STARR: In addition, let me express my appreciation — and it is great — for the grand jurors who devoted much time and energy to examining the witnesses and considering the evidence. Those 23 citizens of the District of Columbia have performed an invaluable service, and I publicly thank them.
This is the rare case where grand jury transcripts become publicly scrutinized, and as the committee members now know, these grand jurors were active, they were knowledgeable, they were fair, and they were completely dedicated to uncovering and understanding the truth.
In all of our investigations, difficult decisions have been taken through our office’s deliberative process, and that’s what we call it. That process calls upon each attorney, drawing upon his or her background and experience, to offer views on issues in question.
This deliberative process is laborious, sometimes tedious. But it is an attempt to ensure that our office makes the best decisions it can.
I have drawn upon a vast array of experienced prosecutors and investigators because I was sensitive to — and am sensitive to — the fact that an independent counsel exists outside the Justice Department and is an unusual entity within our constitutional system.
Throughout this investigation, we have made every effort to follow Department of Justice policy and practice and to utilize time- honored law enforcement and investigative techniques. Of course, with their vast experience in the department and the FBI, our prosecutors and investigators embody such policy and practice.
Nonetheless, it was often the case, at an all-attorneys’ meeting, that we would repair to the United States Attorney’s Manual to be sure we had it right. It is true — Mr. Conyers comments raised the issue — that some law enforcement procedures may not be entirely comfortable for some witnesses. But the procedures have been refined over decades of practice in which society’s right to detect and prosecute crime has been balanced against individual liberty and a balance struck. It was not our place to reinvent the investigative wheel.
Nor was it our place to discard law enforcement practices that are used every day by prosecutors and by police throughout the country. With that, let me be the first to say that the Lewinsky investigation, in particular, presented some of the most challenging issues that any lawyer or investigator could face.
We had to make numerous decisions and to make them very quickly. Those included factual judgments. Is witness X or witness Y telling us the whole truth? As one of my prosecutors has frequently said, we can deal with the truth, but we cannot deal with lies.
STARR: Only give us the truth. And we have to make that assessment.
Strategic choices — do we provide immunity to Ms. Lewinsky in order to obtain her testimony? Is it appropriate to subpoena the president?
Legal decisions — do we accept the assertion of executive privilege for Bruce Lindsey? OR do we go to District Court to challenge it?
What about the Secret Service privilege and historic constitutional judgments?
What is the meaning of Section 595(c) of this statute, the independent counsel statute? And how do we prepare a referral that satisfies its requirements? It had never been done before.
Major decisions during the Lewinsky investigation have not been easy. And given the hurricane force winds swirling about us, we were well aware that no matter what decision we made, criticism would come from somewhere.
As Attorney General Reno has said, in high-profile cases like these — not referring to this case, but in high-profile cases — you are, in her words, “damned if you do and damned if you don’t. So you’d better just do what you think is the right and proper thing.”
We also attempted to be thorough. But we did not invent that approach, being thorough, with the Lewinsky case. To take just one previous example, in investigating matters relating to the death of Vincent Foster Jr., we were painstaking in examining evidence and questioning witnesses and in calling upon experts in homicide and suicide. We were criticized throughout that investigation for being too thorough, for taking too long. But time has proved the correctness of that approach.
After an extensive investigation, the office produced a report that addressed the many questions that confronted the difficult issues, that laid out new evidence and that reached a definitive conclusion.
Over time, the controversy over the Foster tragedy has dissipated because we insisted on being uncompromisingly thorough both in our investigation and in our report. After the attorney general and the Court of Appeals assigned us the Lewinsky investigation, the office again received criticism for being too thorough. But the Lewinsky investigation could not properly be conducted in a slap-dash manner. It was our duty to be meticulous, to be careful. We were.
And in the process, we uncovered substantial and credible evidence of serious legal wrongdoing by the president. Some then suggested — and it’s been suggested this morning — that the report we submitted to Congress was too thorough. But bear in mind, we submitted the referral, as we were required to do, to the House of Representatives and not to the public.
And we must respectfully dispute the suggestion that a report to the House suggesting possible impeachable offenses committed by the president of the United States should tell something less than the full story.
STARR: The facts, the story are critical. They affect credibility. They are necessary to avoid a distorted picture, and they are ultimately the basis for a just conclusion.
As a result, just as the jurors found the details of specific land deals critically important in our trial of Governor Jim Guy Tucker and of the McDougals, just as the Supreme Court of the United States includes the details of grisly murders in its death penalty cases, so too the details of the president’s relationship with Ms. Lewinsky became relevant — indeed, they became critical — in determining whether and to the extent to which the president made false statements under oath and otherwise obstructed justice in Jones v. Clinton — in both that case and then again in his grand jury testimony.
As you know, by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote, the House immediately disclosed our referral to the public.
I want to be clear as a matter of fairness that the public disclosure or nondisclosure of the referral and the backup materials was a decision that our office did not make and lawfully could not make. We had no way of knowing in advance of submitting the referral. And we did not know whether the House would publicly release both the report and the backup materials; would release portions of one or both; would release redacted versions of the report and backup documents; would prepare and release a summary akin to Mr. Schippers’ oral presentation; or would simply keep the referral and the backup materials under seal just as Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski’s submission in 1974 remained under seal.
As a result, we respectfully but we firmly reject the notion that our office was trying to inflame the public. We are professionals, and we were trying to get the relevant facts, the full story, to the House of Representatives. That was our task. And that is what we did.
In fact, the referral has served a good purpose. There has been virtually no dispute about a good many of the factual conclusions in the report. In the wake of the referral, for example, few have ventured that the president told the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth in his civil case and before the grand jury.
A key reason, we submit, is that we insisted — as we have in our other investigations — that we be exhaustive in the investigation and that we document the facts and conclusions in our report. I want to be absolutely clear on one point, however. Any suggestion that the men and women of our office with whom I am privileged to serve enjoyed or relished this investigation is wrong. It is nonsense. In at least three ways, the Lewinsky investigation caused all of us considerable dismay — and continues to do so.
First, none of us have any interest whatsoever in investigating the factual details underlying the allegations of perjury and obstruction of justice in this case. My staff and I agree with the sentiments expressed by the chairman in his November 9 hearing when he said: “I’d like to forget all of this. I mean, who needs it?”
But the Constitution and the criminal law do not have exceptions for unseemly or unpleasant or difficult cases. The attorney general of the United States and the Court of Appeals Special Division assigned us a duty to pursue the facts. And we did so.
Second, this investigation has proved difficult for us because it centered on legal wrongdoing by the president of the United States.
STARR: The presidency is an office that we, like all Americans, revere and respect. No prosecutor is comfortable when he or she reports wrongdoing by the president. All of us want to believe that our president has at all times acted with integrity, and certainly that he has not violated the criminal law.
Everyone in my office, therefore, envies the position ago — years ago of Paul Curran. He was the distinguished council appointed by Attorney General Griffin Bell to investigate certain financial transactions involving President Carter. Mr. Curran, by his account, received complete cooperation from President Carter, found no wrongdoing by the president and promptly returned to private life.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to do the same.
Third, this investigation was unpleasant because our office new that some Americans, for a variety of reasons, would be opposed to our work. But we would not, could not, allow ourselves to be deterred from doing our work. As I have said, our office was assigned a specific duty by the attorney general and the special division to gather the facts, and then, if appropriate, to make decisions and to report the facts as quickly as we possibly could.
In the end, we tried to adhere to the principle Congressman Graham discussed on October 5. Thirty years from now, not 30 days from now, we want to be able to say that we did the right thing.
At the end of the day, I and no one else was responsible for our key decisions. And my background warrants a very brief note, if you will indulge me. The chairman was kind enough to indicate as much.
I began my legal career in 1973 as a law clerk, first for a judge, Judge David Dyer, on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, who passed away earlier this year, and then for two years for Chief Justice Burger. Following clerkships, I was in private law practice in Las Angeles and Washington.
After William French Smith took office as attorney general in January, 1981, I served as counselor to the attorney general from ’81 to 1983. In that capacity, I experienced first hand the varied and difficult judgment calls that the attorney general faces everyday, whether it was dealing with the aftermath of the attempted assassination of the president or selecting a Supreme Court nominee — in that case Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. I took away from that experience an admiration that has continued to this day for the career Justice Department lawyers and prosecutors and the law enforcement officials who toil without fanfare and for whom the guiding principles are fairness and a respect for the law.
In 1983, President Reagan nominated me and the Senate was kind enough to confirm me as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for this (ph) circuit. I became a colleague on a court with truly great judges — from J. Skelley Wright to Antonin Scalia, from Ruth Ginsberg to Robert Bork — and tackled the issues that come before the D.C. Circuit.
This included issues as diverse as the constitutional right of a military serviceman to wear a yarmulke, a right I supported in vane, and the right of a newspaper to be free under the First Amendment from the threat of liability under the liable laws.
In 1989, I accepted appointment as solicitor general of the United States and was confirmed by the Senate. The solicitor general, as you know and have pointed out, is the lawyer who represents the United States in arguments before the Supreme Court.
A distinguished predecessor before whom I was privileged to argue, Justice Thurgood Marshall, often stated that being solicitor general was the greatest job a lawyer could have, bar none. And Justice Marshall was right.
STARR: And Justice Marshall was right.
As solicitor general, I had the privilege of arguing 25 cases before the Supreme Court on behalf of the United States. The arguments covered the spectrum of our law — whether flag burning is a protected right under the Constitution, other issues — and whether the Senate’s decision to convict and remove an impeached judge is subject to judicial review.
While I was solicitor general, my overarching goal was to run an office faithful to the law and not to political or ideological opinion. And I think the record shows that I did just that.
In 1993, I left my second tour of duty in the Justice Department and returned to private practice and teaching constitutional law.
In the period before I was named independent counsel in August 1994, I was not, however, completely absent from public service. In late 1993, I was asked by the Senate Ethics Committee, chaired at the time by Nevada Senator Richard Bryan, to review Senator Packwood’s diaries as part of the Ethics Committee’s investigation and to resolve various issues pertaining to those diaries.
Every person is, of course, deeply affected by his or her experiences. For my part, my experience is in the law and in the courts.
I am not a man of politics, of public relations or of polls, which I suppose is patently obvious by now.
I am not experienced in political campaigns.
Rather, as a product of the law and of the courts, I have come to an unyielding faith in our court system: our system of judicial review, the independence of our judges, our jury system, the integrity of the oath, and the sanctity — yes, the sanctity — of the judicial process.
The phrase on the facade of the Supreme Court “Equal Justice Under Law”; the inscription inside the Justice Department’s corridors, in the attorney general’s own chambers, “The United States wins its point when justice is done its citizens in the courts” — those are more than slogans. They are not slogans. They are principles that the courts in this country apply every day. Our office saw that firsthand in the trial of Governor Jim Guy Tucker, of Jim McDougal and Susan McDougal. A juror said afterwards that they fought hard for the individual’s liberty, but they were overwhelmed by the evidence.
It is our judicial process that helps make this country distinct. And my background, my instincts, my beliefs have instilled in me a deep respect for the legal process that is at the foundation of our republic.
President Lincoln asked that, in his words, “Reverence for the laws, reverence for the laws be proclaimed in legislative halls and enforced in courts of justice.”
Mr. Chairman, members, I revere the law. I’m proud of what we have accomplished. We were assigned a difficult job. We have done it to the very best of our abilities.
STARR: We’ve tried to be both fair and thorough.
I thank the chairman, I thank the committee and the American people for their attention.
HYDE: Thank you very much, Mr. Starr.