Clinton Rebuttal Excerpts-1
The Associated Press
Dec. 09, 1998
Excerpts from the 200-page report released Tuesday by the White House contesting the impeachment case against President Clinton:
In addition to the factual, legal and Constitutional defenses we present in this document, the President has asked us to convey a personal note: What the President did was wrong. As the President himself has said, publicly and painfully, ``there is no fancy way to say that I have sinned.''
The President has insisted that no legalities be allowed to obscure the simple moral truth that his behavior in this matter was wrong; that he misled his wife, his friends and our Nation about the nature of his relationship with Ms. Lewinsky. He did not want anyone to know about his personal wrongdoing. But he does want everyone _ the Committee, the Congress and the country _ to know that he is profoundly sorry for the wrongs he has committed and for the pain he has caused his family, his friends, and our nation.
But as attorneys representing the President in a legal and Constitutional proceeding, we are duty-bound to draw a distinction between immoral conduct and illegal or impeachable acts. And just as no fancy language can obscure the fact that what the President did was morally wrong, no amount of rhetoric can change the legal reality that the record before this Committee does not justify charges of criminal conduct or impeachable offenses.
The President of the United States has not committed impeachable offenses. He repeatedly has acknowledged that what he did was wrong, he has apologized, and he has sought forgiveness. But his apologies, his acceptance of responsibility, and his contrition do not mean either that the President committed criminal acts or that the acts of which he is accused are impeachable offenses. Counsel for President Clinton respectfully submit this memorandum to demonstrate and document this contention.
It is widely alleged among those favoring impeachment that the President ``lied under oath'' to the grand jury. But a review of the available evidence proves that this allegation often is based not on what the President actually said under oath but rather on what some of his accusers claim he said _ such as that in the grand jury he categorically denied having a sexual relationship with Ms. Lewinsky, or that he denied being alone with her, when in fact he explicitly acknowledged to the grand jury both that he had had an inappropriate intimate relationship with Ms. Lewinsky and that he had been alone with her. There are numerous other examples of allegations, now commonly believed, that are wholly _ not just somewhat _ unsupported even by the evidence presented to the Committee in the OIC referral.
Without any expansion of his jurisdiction, Mr. Starr then began to conduct an investigation into rumors of extramarital affairs involving the President. In the Spring of 1997, Arkansas state troopers who had once been assigned to the Governor's security detail were interviewed, and the troopers said Starr's investigators asked about 12 to 15 women by name, including Paula Corbin Jones. ... One of the most striking aspects of this new phase of the Whitewater investigation was the extent to which it focused on the Paula Jones case.
On August 17, 1998, the President specifically acknowledged to the grand jury that he had had a relationship with Ms. Lewinsky involving ``improper intimate contact.'' He described how the relationship began, and how it had ended early in 1997 _ long before any public attention or scrutiny. He acknowledged this relationship to the grand jury, and he explained how he had tried to get through the deposition in the Jones case months earlier without admitting what he had had to admit to the grand jury _ an improper relationship with Ms. Lewinsky. ... No one who watched the videotape of this grand jury testimony had any doubt that the President was admitting to an improper physical relationship with Ms. Lewinsky.
The specific harms the Framers sought to redress by impeachment are far more serious than those alleged in the Starr Referral. ... The history on which they relied, the arguments they made in Convention, the specific ills they regarded as redressable, and the State backgrounds from which they emerged _ all these establish that the Framers believed that impeachment must be reserved for only the most serious forms of wrongdoing. They believed, in short, that impeachment ``reached offenses against the government, and especially abuses of constitutional duties.'' The Referral alleges no wrongs of that magnitude.
Exercise of the impeachment power by the House is a matter of the utmost seriousness. No member of this Committee or of the House as a whole should approve articles of impeachment unless that member is personally persuaded that a high crime or misdemeanor has been proven to have occurred by clear and convincing evidence.
Thus, a member would act in derogation of a solemn constitutional duty if he or she approved an article of impeachment without having concluded that the President had been shown, by clear and convincing evidence, to have performed an impeachable act. The House has its own independent constitutional obligation to weigh the evidence presented. It is not a matter of merely voting for the article on the theory that the Senate will determine the truth. The precedent created in the Watergate proceedings could not be clearer. To break with that precedent and proceed on something less demanding would properly be viewed as a partisan effort to lower the impeachment bar. The President, the Constitution, and the American people deserve more.