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Our Constitution is a remarkable, revolutionary document. It says so
much in so few words that many Americans forget how special it is.
Before the Founding Fathers wrote our Constitution, men governed
countries as though they were gods. Our Constitution was the first
governing document to say that the people would rule a country, not the
rulers. I mention our Constitution because the Senate is about to make a
decision that will reverberate throughout history. That decision is
whether the Senate will allow House managers to call witnesses in
Clinton’s impeachment trial.
We ratified the Constitution of the United States in 1788. Soon
afterwards, our country’s founders decided that it did not provide
sufficient protection of citizens against an abusive central government.
So in 1791, the states ratified 10 new amendments to the Constitution
that we now call our Bill of Rights. Half of these amendments define the
rights that government must guarantee those accused of crimes.
The most relevant of our Bill of Rights is the 6th Amendment. It says
that ” … the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public
trial, by an impartial jury … and to be informed of the nature and
cause of the accusation; to be confronted by witnesses against him; to
have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, to have
the assistance of counsel for his defense.”
The right to a speedy trial prevents the government from arresting
citizens and keeping them in jail for an indefinite period. The right to
a public trial forces the government to present its case against
citizens in the open so that all can see and judge the government’s
claims for themselves. The right to an impartial jury prevents the
government from stacking the deck to force an outcome not supported by
facts. The right of the accused to be informed of the nature and cause
of the charges gives the defendant the information that they need to
prepare a vigorous defense.
These rights protect the accused and society. Both the accused and
society own these rights. Neither the accused nor society can deny the
other any of these rights. For these rights don’t just belong to the
accused, they belong to all of us. They are not just there to protect
the accused, they are there to protect our sense of fairness.
None of the rights enumerated in the 6th Amendment are more central
to our system of justice than the right to “be confronted by witnesses
against him.” This right forces the government to produce, in person,
people who have said bad things about the accused in secret. This right
gives the accused and the people of this great nation the opportunity to
see how the accusers respond when their testimony is subjected to
hostile, pointed questions from trained defense attorneys.
I started practicing law in 1972. I never had a client who was
innocent who did not want to confront witnesses bearing false witnesses
against them. I never had a client who was guilty who wanted to confront
witnesses who would expose them.
I believe the only reason that Bill Clinton is fighting so hard to
keep the Senate from seeing and hearing witnesses is that he fears what
these witnesses will say. I believe that the only reason some Democrat
senators are opposed to hearing witnesses is that they fear that their
testimony will force them to vote to remove Clinton from office.
Bill Clinton wants us to believe that the House Articles of
Impeachment are of absolutely no merit. Bill Clinton wants us to believe
that this is just about a private matter and doesn’t rise to the high
crimes and misdemeanors standard imposed by the constitution. Let’s look
at what Bill Clinton has told us in the past.
Bill Clinton told us that he didn’t have sex with Jennifer Flowers.
He lied. Bill Clinton told us that he didn’t have sex with Monica
Lewinsky. He lied. Bill Clinton told us that he didn’t proposition Paula
Corbin Jones. Yet this week, he paid Paula $850,000 to settle a case
that the judge had dismissed in his favor. I believe that Bill paid
Paula because he knew that if Paula won her appeal, a trial with real
witnesses would prove that he lied about Paula also. In my 26 years of
being a lawyer, I have never known anyone to pay someone that much money
to settle a case that had no merit.
Bill Clinton said that he didn’t ask Vernon Jordan to tamper with
Monica, a grand jury witness. Do you believe him? Bill Clinton said that
he didn’t try to tamper with Betty Currie, a grand jury witness. Do you
believe him? Bill Clinton says that he didn’t ask Monica to lie. Do you
believe him? Bill Clinton said that he didn’t sexually assault Kathleen
Willey. Do you believe him? Bill Clinton said that he never had sex with
Dolly Kyle Browning. Do you believe him? I don’t.
Having witnesses testify under oath before a jury keeps our legal
system honest. Litigators know that you can never be sure how a witness
will react when lawyers from both sides started shooting real bullets.
Every litigator has had clients and witnesses change their tune when the
judge puts them under oath. That’s why the right to interrogate
witnesses was added to our Constitution.
When a witness testifies under oath in person, we can judge their
truthfulness by various visual clues that they give. We have generally
not recorded grand jury proceedings on video tape. As a result, we
cannot judge the demeanor, seriousness, evasiveness or honesty of any of
the grand jury witnesses. So when members of the Senate or Bill
Clinton’s defense team say that the written transcripts from Ken Starr’s
grand jury investigation are adequate, they either don’t know what they
are talking about, or think we are fools.
If any of Ken Starr’s witnesses rolled their eyes when they asked a
difficult question, that very important facial expression is lost to us,
because the written transcript does not capture it. We can’t tell if any
of the witnesses started sweating, got angry, hesitated, looked shocked
or frightened, or paused for a long time. Because the written record
captures none of that.
As important as it is to see how a witness responds to the questions
that they asked, it is also important to insure that they asked all of
the right questions. After reviewing Ken Starr’s handling of Bill
Clinton during his taped grand jury testimony, I do not believe that
Starr’s team’s possessed the ability to ask the right questions of any
Monica Lewinsky testified that Bill Clinton didn’t ask her to lie. A
prosecutor wouldn’t have stopped there. They would have asked Monica
whether Bill Clinton asked her to tell the truth. The answer to that
question is crucial to proving the obstruction of justice charge. Bill
Clinton said that he didn’t have sex with Monica given the limited
definition of “sexual relations” that his lawyers foisted on the federal
judge from Arkansas. A real prosecutor would have forced Bill Clinton to
explain why everyone calls oral sex, sex. Instead, Starr let Clinton get
away with saying that “it depends on what the meaning of the word is
Dolly Kyle Browning says that Bill Clinton lied to the federal court
about their relationship. Whether or not Bill Clinton participated in a
pattern and/or practice of sexual harassment was central to Paula Jones’
federal sexual harassment law suit. Bill Clinton doesn’t want Ms.
Browning to testify. That’s enough for me to demand to hear from her.
Kathleen Willey says that Bill Clinton sexually assaulted her. Bill
Clinton said he did not. One of them is lying. If Bill Clinton is lying,
that adds support to the argument that he committed perjury when he
denied the key claims in Paula Jones’ law suit. Remember, we are not
just talking about sex. We are talking about lying and tampering with
witnesses to prevent a citizen from prevailing in a federal civil rights
sexual harassment law suit.
I don’t care about Bill’s sex life. I do care about perjury and
obstruction of justice. I’m not willing to look the other way to
stonewalling, lying, witness tampering, coercion, threats of violence,
slander and defamation just because the event that started this abusive
process was sexual.
If you think that written transcripts are adequate, I ask you to
think about the O. J. trial. If the trial court had prevented us from
seeing that case on television, we might have accepted the jury’s not
guilty verdict. However, since many Americans saw enough of the trial to
develop a sense of what happened that horrible night, most of us are
convinced that O.J. is a murderer … despite the jury’s verdict.
I believe that Bill Clinton is guilty of obstruction of justice and
perjury. I believe it because no innocent man fights as hard as he is
fighting to prevent witnesses from testifying. An innocent man cherishes
his constitutional guarantee of the right to face his accusers. Bill
Clinton wants to give up that very special right because he doesn’t want
to confront his accusers. I believe that he doesn’t want to confront his
accusers because he did lie and he did obstruct justice.
If the Senate is to be fair to all of us, it must give the House
Managers the benefit of the doubt and hear witnesses. If Senators
opposed to hearing witnesses are right and nothing that the witnesses
say changes their minds about acquittal, what harm will have occurred?
The benefit will be that we will not have to ask why the Senate was
afraid to let witnesses testify. The benefit will be that history will
not show that the United States Senate joined Bill Clinton’s cover up
and held a “show trial” that prevented the truth from coming out.
I want to see what the witnesses have to say when questioned by tough
prosecutors and defense attorneys. I want to see what their answers are
to questions that Ken Starr’s people never asked. I want to see how
things evolve when the whole world is watching and listening to what
they say in public. I want the Senate to show that it respects my
constitutional right to have a real trial where the final decision is
based on the facts produced on the Senate floor.