Press "Enter" to skip to content

Clinton Impeachment: Statement By Senator Patty Murray

The following is a statement from the Senate’s closed deliberations on the Articles of Impeachment against President Clinton, excerpts of which senators were allowed to publish in the Congressional Record for Friday, February 12, 1999.

Senator Patty Murray is a Democratic senator from Washington. She assumed office in 1993.

Statement by Senator Patty Murray (Democrat – Washington)

Mr. Chief Justice, this past year certainly has been a difficult time for America. I have to say, as a citizen, as a woman, and as a parent, I cannot begin to describe how deeply disappointed and angry I am with the President.

I came to Washington, D.C. in 1992. Over the last 6 years I have worked with Bill Clinton. I trusted him. I thought I knew him. I refused to believe he would demean the presidency in the way that he has. His behavior was appalling and has hurt us all.

But as a Senator, I have an obligation under the Constitution that transcends any sense of personal betrayal I might have. I am sworn to render my judgment based on the evidence presented and the larger question of what the framers of the Constitution meant when they wrote the impeachment clause.

I have listened carefully throughout this debate. I have read and listened to every available article and argument. Like all of you, I have spent more hours on this case that I ever wanted to and have felt the tremendous weight of this decision.

I believe that perjury and obstruction of justice can be considered high crimes. The question is whether the facts in this case support the allegations that the President committed these crimes.

The Republican House managers presented a theory. But after listening carefully to both sides and, most importantly, reviewing the words of the witnesses themselves, they did not prove their theory of perjury and obstruction of justice beyond a reasonable doubt to me. If we are to remove a President for the first time in our Nation’s history, none of us should have any doubts.

We must also ask ourselves how it would affect the country to remove this President after such a partisan process. A conversation I had with a constituent not long ago really struck a chord with me. He said to me,

I am old enough to remember President Nixon’s resignation. I know how deeply it affected the psyche of an entire generation. I know it made many of us cynical of politics for a long, long time. Please don’t put us all through that turmoil again. This country would be punished and hurt by a presidential removal. This country doesn’t deserve to be punished for this President’s behavior.

So despite my personal disgust with the President’s actions, I intend to vote `not guilty’ on both articles of impeachment.

Our founders were wise. They knew the President would be imperfect. They knew he would stumble and fall. While it would be wrong to suggest they approved of such behavior, they were not interested in the individual and his flaws. They sought to protect the nation.

They set a very high standard for the legislative body to meet before overturning the results of an election–the very basis of our democracy. They declared it would only be for the crimes most threatening to our nation. They did not establish the impeachment process to punish a wrongdoer; they established it to protect America.

This President’s behavior was reprehensible, but it does not threaten our nation. In the past year, despite the scandal that ran on the front page nearly every day, our country has prospered. Our economy is growing. Our waters and air are cleaner. Our communities are safer. Our education system is stronger. America is not poised on the brink of disaster. Our democracy is safe.

But what of our legacy in this process? What will I tell my daughter, or tell a classroom of young students? Well, it doesn’t take a lawyer or a constitutional scholar to tell them that no matter how difficult it is, tell the truth. The lie will hurt you much, much more. It can consume you, your friends, your family, your nation. It can destroy those you love and diminish you forever in their eyes.

This President now knows that. His legacy will be tainted with the anguish he inflicted on the people and country he loves because of his selfish and disgraceful behavior. It is a weight that he alone will bear for the rest of his life.

We have heard a lot of emotions and strong feelings on this floor from both sides. I respect the deep convictions of everyone in this room. I am saddened it has appeared partisan. But it is my hope that we can now turn the page on this sad part of America’s history and put an end to the recriminations.

Mr. Chief Justice, point of personal privilege.

It is hard to stand before you without Scott Bates behind me. I knew him as all of you did as a loyal, excellent Senate employee. But I also knew him as a Dad. We stood together as parents on a soccer field cheering on our daughters in victory and hugging them in defeat. He will be missed.

But his absence should serve as a reminder that although we have been totally engrossed in this issue for far too long, there is life outside of these doors. There are friends to be hugged, kids to be educated, parents to take care of.

I hope when this day is over, we will set aside our differences and remember there are a lot more important things each of us needs to be concentrating on, both professionally and personally. It’s time to move on.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Malcolm Farnsworth
© 1995-2024