The following excerpts of the 105-page House impeachment managers' opening brief to the United States Senate were posted on the House Judiciary Committee Web site on January 11, 1999. The brief was filed in the perjury and obstruction of justice case against President William Jefferson Clinton.
Now comes the United States House of Representatives, by and through its duly authorized managers, and respectfully submits to the United States Senate its brief in connection with the impeachment trial of William Jefferson Clinton, President of the United States.
The President is charged in two Articles with: 1) perjury and false and misleading testimony and statements under oath before a federal grand jury (Article I), and 2) engaging in a course of conduct or scheme to delay and obstruct justice (Article II).
The evidence contained in the record, when viewed as a unified whole, overwhelmingly supports both charges.
Perjury and False Statements Under Oath
President Clinton deliberately and willfully testified falsely under oath when he appeared before a Federal grand jury on Aug. 17, 1998. Although what follows is not exhaustive, some of the more overt examples will serve to illustrate.
-- At the very outset, the President read a prepared statement, which itself contained totally false assertions and other clearly misleading information.
-- The President relied on his statement 19 times in his testimony when questioned about his relationship with Ms. Lewinsky.
-- President Clinton falsely testified that he was not paying attention when his lawyer employed Ms. Lewinsky's false affidavit at the Jones deposition.
-- He falsely claimed that his actions with Ms. Lewinsky did not fall within the definition of "sexual relations" that was given at his deposition.
-- He falsely testified that he answered questions truthfully at his deposition concerning, among other subjects, whether he had been alone with Ms. Lewinsky.
-- He falsely testified that he instructed Ms. Lewinsky to turn over the gifts if she were subpoenaed.
-- He falsely denied trying to influence Ms. Currie after his deposition.
-- He falsely testified that he was truthful to his aides when he gave accounts of his relationship, which accounts were subsequently disseminated to the media and the grand jury.
Obstruction of Justice
The President engaged in an ongoing scheme to obstruct both the Jones civil case and the grand jury. Further, he undertook a continuing and concerted plan to tamper with witnesses and prospective witnesses for the purpose of causing those witnesses to provide false and misleading testimony. Examples abound:
-- The President and Ms. Lewinsky concocted a cover story to conceal their relationship, and the President suggested that she employ that story if subpoenaed in the Jones case.
-- The President suggested that Ms. Lewinsky provide an affidavit to avoid testifying in the Jones case, when he knew that the affidavit would need to be false to accomplish its purpose.
-- The President knowingly and willfully allowed his attorney to file Ms. Lewinsky's false affidavit and to use it for the purpose of obstructing justice in the Jones case.
-- The President suggested to Ms. Lewinsky that she provide a false account of how she received her job at the Pentagon.
-- The President attempted to influence the expected testimony of his secretary, Ms. Currie, by providing her with a false account of his meetings with Ms. Lewinsky.
-- The President provided several of his top aides with elaborate lies about his relationship with Ms. Lewinsky, so that those aides would convey the false information to the public and to the grand jury. When he did this, he knew that those aides would likely be called to testify, while he was declining several invitations to testify. By this action, he obstructed and delayed the operation of the grand jury.
-- The President conspired with Ms. Lewinsky and Ms. Currie to conceal evidence that ... had been subpoenaed in the Jones case, and thereby delayed and obstructed justice.
-- The President and his representatives orchestrated a campaign to discredit Ms. Lewinsky in order to affect adversely her credibility as a witness, and thereby attempted to obstruct justice both in the Jones case and the grand jury.
-- The President lied repeatedly under oath in his deposition in the Jones case, and thereby obstructed justice in that case.
-- The President's lies and misleading statements under oath at the grand jury were calculated to, and did obstruct, delay and prevent the due administration of justice by that body.
-- The President employed the power of his office to procure a job for Ms. Lewinsky after she signed the false affidavit by causing his friend to exert extraordinary efforts for that purpose.
The foregoing are merely accusations of an ongoing pattern of obstruction of justice, and witness tampering extending over a period of several months, and having the effect of seriously compromising the integrity of the entire judicial system.
The effect of the President's misconduct has been devastating in several respects.
1. He violated repeatedly his oath to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
2. He ignored his constitutional duty as chief law-enforcement officer to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed."
3. He deliberately and unlawfully obstructed Paula Jones' rights as a citizen to due process and the equal protection of the laws, though he had sworn to protect those rights.
4. By his pattern of lies under oath, misleading statements and deceit, he has seriously undermined the integrity and credibility of the Office of President and thereby the honor and integrity of the United States.
5. His pattern of perjuries, obstruction of justice and witness tampering has affected the truth-seeking process which is the foundation of our legal system.
6. By mounting an assault in the truth-seeking process, he has attacked the entire judicial branch of Government.
The articles of impeachment that the House has preferred state offenses that warrant, if proved, the conviction and removal from office of President William Jefferson Clinton. The articles charge that the President has committed perjury before a Federal grand jury and that he obstructed justice in a Federal civil rights action. The Senate's own precedents establish beyond doubt that perjury warrants conviction and removal. During the 1980's, the Senate convicted and removed three Federal judges for committing perjury. Obstruction of justice undermines the judicial system in the same fashion that perjury does, and it also warrants conviction and removal.
Under our Constitution, judges are impeached under the same standard as Presidents -- treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors. Thus, these judicial impeachments for perjury set the standard here. Finally, the Senate's own precedents further establish that the President's crimes need not arise directly out of his official duties. Two of the three judges removed in the 1980's were removed for perjury that had nothing to do with their official duties....
The House impeachment resolution charges the President with high crimes and misdemeanors in two articles. Article I alleges that President Clinton "willfully corrupted and manipulated the judicial process of the United States for his personal gain and exoneration, impeding the administration of justice" in that he willfully provided perjurious, false and misleading testimony to a Federal grand jury on Aug. 17, 1998. Article II asserts that the President "has prevented, obstructed, and impeded the administration of justice and engaged in a course of conduct or scheme designed to delay, impede, cover up and conceal the existence of evidence and testimony related to a Federal civil rights action brought against him."
The Office of President represents to the American people and to the world, the strength, the philosophy and most of all, the honor and integrity that makes us a great nation and an example for the world. Because all eyes are focused upon that high office, the character and credibility of any temporary occupant of the Oval Office is vital to the domestic and foreign welfare of the citizens. Consequently, serious breaches of integrity and duty of necessity adversely influence the reputation of the United States.
This case is not about sex or private conduct. It is about multiple obstructions of justice, perjury, false and misleading statements, and witness tampering -- all committed or orchestrated by the President of the United States.
Before addressing the President's lies and obstruction, it is important to place the events in the proper context. If this were only about private sex we would not now be before the Senate. But the manner in which the Lewinsky relationship arose and continued is important because it is illustrative of the character of the President and the decisions he made....
The sexual details of the President's encounters with Ms. Lewinsky, though relevant, need not be detailed either in this document or through witness testimony. It is necessary, though, briefly to outline that evidence, because it will demonstrate that the President repeatedly lied about that sexual relationship in his deposition, before the grand jury and in his responses to the Judiciary Committee's questions. He has consistently maintained that Ms. Lewinsky merely performed acts on him, while he never touched her in a sexual manner. This characterization not only directly contradicts Ms. Lewinsky's testimony, but it also contradicts the sworn grand jury testimony of three of her friends and the statements by two professional counselors with whom she contemporaneously shared the details of her relationship.
While his treatment of Ms. Lewinsky was offensive, it is much more offensive for the President to expect the Senate to believe that in 1995, 1996 and 1997, his intimate contact with Ms. Lewinsky was so limited that it did not fall within his narrow interpretation of a definition of "sexual relations."
We respectfully submit that the evidence and testimony must be viewed as a whole; it cannot be compartmentalized. It is essential to avoid considering each event in isolation, and then treating it separately. Events and words that may seem innocent or even exculpatory in a vacuum may well take on a sinister, or even criminal connotation when observed in the context of the whole plot. For example, everyone agrees that Monica Lewinsky testified "No one ever told me to lie; nobody ever promised me a job."
When considered alone this would seem exculpatory. However, in the context of the other evidence, another picture emerges. Of course no one said, "Now, Monica, you go in there and lie." They didn't have to. Ms. Lewinsky knew what was expected of her. Similarly, nobody promised her a job, but once she signed the false affidavit, she got one.
The ultimate issue is whether the President's course of conduct is such as to affect adversely the Office of the President and also upon the administration of justice, and whether he has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive to the rule of law....
This is a defining moment for the Presidency as an institution, because if the President is not convicted as a consequence of the conduct that has been portrayed, then no House of Representatives will ever be able to impeach again and no Senate will ever convict. The bar will be so high that only a convicted felon or a traitor will need to be concerned.
Experts pointed to the fact that the House refused to impeach President Nixon for lying on an income tax return. Can you imagine a future President, faced with possible impeachment, pointing to the perjuries, lies, obstructions, and tampering with witnesses by the current occupant of the office as not rising to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors? If this is not enough, what is? How far can the standard be lowered without completely compromising the credibility of the office for all time?
Click here to read the official
response to the impeachment charges
filed by President Clinton.
Web Law Review, 1999