Clinton Impeachment Trial: George Gekas’ Summation Of Prosecutors’ Case

This is George Gekas’ summation of the prosecutors’ case in the Senate impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton.

Gekas, a Republican congressman from Pennsylvania, was one of the House Managers, appointed to present the prosecution case against Clinton in the Senate trial.

George Gekas Summation of Prosecutors’ Case.

REPRESENTATIVE GEORGE GEKAS (R-PENNSYLVANIA): Mr. Chief Justice, to the president’s counsel, to members of the House who form our group of managers, and to the members of the Senate, we bring you which now may be the culmination of the work and effort of the managers and of the House of Representatives for what is fast closing in to be your final consideration.

And that is true. The moment of truth is fast approaching. That moment of truth will swoop down on you at some point in the near future at which time the millions of words that have been spoken thus far, the thousands of pages of documents and the hundreds of exhibits and the dozens of individuals that have been involved in the preparation and annotation and accumulation of all the data and evidence.

All of that will be funneled into that last moment that you will have right before you cast that final vote. And that’s an awesome moment in the history of this chamber, and in the personal history of your own careers in public service, and of your own life as well, your personal life, your surroundings, your family, all that means anything and everything to you.

That moment of truth encompasses all of that in one fell swoop at that final time that is upon us.

And we would not have even had to contemplate — nor you would have had to, if very early on in the factual situation that arose in this case, if early on, President Clinton has faced his moment of truth.

As I pointed out yesterday, that first moment of truth that faced the president in the legal proceedings that were to engulf him at a later point, was his answers, the answers that he affixed to that first set of interrogatories under oath.

The moment of truth was staring him right in the face. And if he would have acknowledged it, that moment, had paid faith and allegiance to that moment, we would not be arguing here today, nor would we have even heard of a possible impeachment inquiry. But the president chose to sweep away that moment of truth which was at hand and proceeded down that course which has led us to this moment.

In the words of our colleagues, who made magnificent presentations of the facts and laws to you, the words truth and fairness were some of the strongest and most profound that we heard in various degrees and touching upon various subjects that were important to our presentation.

And when I heard my colleagues emphasize those words, it dawned on me that that element of fairness is something which I submit to you and certify to you that these members are members of the committee who prepared this case exalted in making certain it would apply to their endeavors and to all that we would present to you — fairness.

When the record of the independent counsel, the referral reached our doorsteps back in September of ’97 (sic), and we first read the details and the allegations that were contained therein.

We did not, as some people began to accuse and to orate, adopt 100 percent everything that the Independent Counsel said were the allegations and accept them as fact and then move on to that and to skip from September to this moment, not having used our intellect, our sympathies, our sense of right, our sense of wrong, our sense of fairness, our elements of truth, our experience, our own intellect, our own conscience.

We didn’t set all of those aside and take the referral of Kenneth Starr and make that the final moment that precedes your moment of truth. Everyone should know that, but it’s not recognized. We have been pilloried many times over the course of these proceedings on the notion that we simply adopted that referral and walked with it into the Senate chambers.

One thing that has to be said right at the outset.

When I saw in those allegations of the independent counsel one that was encompassed around the question of executive privilege in which the allegation was that the assertion by the president, by President Clinton, of executive privilege in the context of all that has transpired in this case, that that constituted in that allegation by Judge Starr an abuse of power, I must tell you that that hit me right between the eyes. I could not by even reading it, just reading it, accept it at face value.

And from that moment until this, I had serious, grave doubts that we should embark upon a course in which we would somehow denigrate the issue and the privilege known as the executive privilege.

As I worried about this and as I moved on through the process trying to do my duty, along with everyone else, there came a time in the deliberations of our committee, of our managers group, that we felt, and we acted on that feeling, that executive privilege is something that is owed to President Clinton that we cannot fairly strip that away from him or in any way diminish the power and the usability of executive privilege.

We felt that was a trapping and a power of the executive, of the President of the United States, which no matter it’s exerted or thereafter possibly set aside by the court which is always a possibility and history has shown that has occurred, nevertheless, the exertion of it, the assertion of it, the use of it, the feel for it that the President of the United States must have and should have in the first instance, to assert it, should not be a part of our criticism, our projection of this case.

We felt pretty strongly about it.

And we took action on that front by deciding among ourselves that one of the proposed articles, which was bound to reach you if we had not acted as we did, we decided that we were going to remove that from the allegations in any of the articles of impeachment and not refer to it, except to it in the context in which I’m referring to it — that is, reporting to you what happened with that particular issue.

We did that in the face of the knowledge that, in all our readings and all our literature, we noted that when President Nixon attempted to use executive privilege, he was soundly criticized, and part of the impeachment process carried his alleged abuse of executive privilege as one of the tenets of that proceeding.

And the report shows executive privilege as being ill-used by President Nixon. But here is the point.

The managers and I, every member of the Senate, every individual who is with us here today reveres the office of the presidency. We respect the office of the presidency. The presidency is we. The presidency is America. The presidency is the banner under which we all work and live and strive in this nation.

We revere the presidency. Any innuendo or any kind of impulse that anyone has to attribute any kind of motivation on the part of these men of honor who have prepared this case for you today on any whim on their part other than to do their constitutional duty should be rebuffed at every conversation, at every meeting, at every writing that will ultimately flow from the proceedings that we have embarked upon.

We revere the presidency. And, as a matter of fact, when next week we face the prospect of the president of the United States entering the House of Representatives to deliver his State of the Union message, we will greet the president. We will accord him the respect for the office which he holds. He is our president, he occupies the presidency and we will honor that. As so, and so should we all.

But, we are capable of, and must in the face of the solemn duty that we have, compartmentalize in the purest sense in greeting the president and applauding his entrance into the State of Union message, as we will accord him that privilege, we do not set aside the impeachment inquiry.

We do not set aside the serious charges that are hoisted against him at that juncture, because we will resume the consideration of them in due course. But in the meantime, we’ve compartmentalize ourselves as Americans, recognizing that he holds the most powerful, most respected and most admired office on the face of the globe.

That is part of our duty, as it is our duty to impart our knowledge, our work our theories, our analysis to the impeachment proceedings which are at hand.

These are times that try men’s souls — someone said — and it was not my mother. And it is true. But anyone who can feel that the final vote that will take place on the part of each individual member of the Senate that a vote for conviction based on a distaste for Bill Clinton, hatred of Bill Clinton, that kind of vote for conviction should never be recognized or countenanced and history will condemn any individual who does that.

And if a vote at the last moment that this moment of truth is based on an admiration of President Clinton, a friendship with President Clinton, a deep tie to and with the president on family and community and national matters, a vote of acquittal should not be based on that.

But only the Senate and each individual conscience will determine how that final vote is cast. We cannot account for the friendship or enmity (ph) that might exist with and for President Clinton.

All we can do is to do the job that was thrust upon us, that was placed in our hands by a statute that this Congress created, that independent counsel statute. The Congress said that we had to listen to the referral, to accept the referral. The Congress said that we must look towards whatever recommendations might be contained in that. It was the Congress, our Congress, many of you voted for that statute, which mandated that we consider all of this.

We did not simply walk around one day and then seize upon a moment of deep though and said: Let’s impeach the president, let’s find something upon which we can base a full six months inquiry into the president’s actions in front of a court.

This was a duty, much as it is your duty to stay here and listen to what I am saying, the duty that I have of presenting it to you and speaking to you is born of the same statute and of the same process and of the same constitutional background tat we all share.

So it worries me and us that any awkward motivation can be attributed to any one of us or collectively to us.

And once you render your vote, I’m not going to question whether it was done out of blind loyalty or enmity or friendship with the president, or enmity with the president. I’m going to judge it as an American citizen, a member of the House of Representatives, a member of Congress, an interested community leader, and last but not least, as a pure American citizen eager to do one’s duty.

As the moment of truth approaches, there’s only one speaker left for us in the Senate’s chambers here to contemplate, and that is the summation to be given by the esteemed chairman of our committee.

And you should know, as we all feel, that the most stringent duty that he ever performed, the gentleman from Illinois, was to manage the managers. But he did that just as well and as profoundly as he has approached every single facet of this case.

As he sums up, know for a certainty that he brings to the podium our collective thoughts, our collective emotions, our passions for our work and our duty, and with an eye toward serving you as we serve as we serve our constituents, as we serve the Congress, as we serve America.

We are 20 minutes closer, and above all, the duty to the United States.

Mr. Hyde.

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