Chief Justice Rehnquist Convenes Senate Trial of President Clinton

This is the Senate transcript of the opening proceedings of the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton.

The trial was presided over by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, William Rehnquist.

Opening proceedings in the Senate trial of President Bill Clinton.

CHIEF JUSTICE REHNQUIST: The Senate will convene as a court of impeachment. The chaplain will offer a prayer.

SENATE CHAPLAIN: Almighty God, whose providential care has never varied all through our nation’s history, we ask you for a special measure of wisdom for the women and men of this Senate as they act as jurors in this impeachment trial. You have been our nation’s refuge and strength in triumphs and troubles, prosperity and problems.

Now, dear Father, help us through this difficult time. As you guided the senators to unity in matters of procedure, continue to make them one in their search for the truth and in their expression of justice. Keep them focused in a spirit of nonpartisan patriotism today, and in the crucial days to come.

Bless the distinguished Chief Justice as he presides over this trial. We commit to you all that is said and done and ultimately decided.

In your holy name, amen.

REHNQUIST: The sergeant-at-arms will make the proclamation.

CLERK: Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye, all persons are commanded to keep silent, on pain of imprisonment, while the Senate of the United States is sitting for the trial of the articles of impeachment exhibited by the House of Representatives against William Jefferson Clinton, President of the United States.

REHNQUIST: The presiding officer recognizes the majority leader.

LOTT: Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice.

I send a resolution to the desk providing for appropriated equipment and furniture in the Senate chamber, and ask that it be agreed to and the motion to reconsider be laid on the table.

REHNQUIST: The clerk will report the resolution by title.

CLERK: Senate Resolution 17, to authorize the installation of appropriate equipment and furniture in the Senate chamber for the impeachment trial.

REHNQUIST: Without objection, the resolution is considered and agreed to.

LOTT: Mr. Chief Justice, I now ask unanimous consent that the floor privileges be granted to the individuals listed on the document I send to the desk, then to closed impeachment proceedings of William Jefferson Clinton, President of the United States.

REHNQUIST: Without objection, it’s so ordered.

LOTT: Mr. Chief Justice, I ask unanimous consent that the secretary of the Senate be authorized to print as a Senate document all documents filed by the parties together with other materials for the convenience of all senators.

REHNQUIST: Without objection, it is so ordered.

LOTT: Mr. Chief Justice, I’m about to submit a series of unanimous consent agreements and a resolution for the consideration of the Senate. In addition to these matters, I would like to state for the information of all senators that pursuant to Senate Resolution 16, the evidentiary record on which the parties’ presentations over the next days will be based, was filed by the House managers yesterday and was distributed to all senators through their offices.

These materials are now being printed at the Government Printing Office as Senate documents. The initial documents of the record have been printed and are now at each senator’s desk. As the printing of the rest of the volumes of the record is completed over the next few days, there will also be placed on the senators’ desk for their convenience.

REHNQUIST: Without objection, the journal of the proceedings of the trial are approved today. The presiding officer submits to the Senate for printing in the Senate journal the following documents. The precept issued on January 8, 1999.

REHNQUIST: The writ of summons issued on January 8, 1999 and the receipt of summons dated January 8, 1999. The presiding officers submits to the Senate for printing in the Senate journal, the following documents which were received by the secretary of the Senate pursuant to Senate Resolution 16, 106th Congress, 1st Session:

The answer of William Jefferson Clinton, President of the United States to the Articles of Impeachment exhibited by the House of Representatives against him on January 8, 1999, received by the secretary of the Senate on January 11, 1999,

The trial brief filed by the House of Representatives, received by the Secretary of the Senate on January 11, 1999,

The trial brief filed by the president, received by the secretary of the Senate on January 13, 1999,

The replication of the House of Representatives, received by the secretary of the Senate on January 13, 1999,

The rebuttal brief filed by the House of Representatives, received by the secretary of the Senate on January 14, 1999.

Without objection, the foregoing documents will be printed in the Congressional Record.

I would like to inform members of the Senate and the parties in this case of my need to stand on occasion to stretch my back. I have no intention that the proceedings should be any way interrupted when I do so.

REHNQUIST: The presiding officer notes the presence in the Senate chamber of the managers of the House of Representatives and counsel for the president of the United States.

Pursuant to the provisions of Senate Resolution 16, the managers for the House of Representatives have 24 hours to make presentation of their case.

The Senate will now hear you. The presiding officer recognizes Mr. Manager Hyde to begin the presentation of the case for the House of Representatives.

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