The President of the United States engaged in a pattern of conduct, performed acts of willful deception, and told and disseminated massive falsehoods, including lies told directly to the American people…, therefore, vote ``Guilty'' on Article II of the Articles of Impeachment of the President in this proceeding.
Whether the President, who swore an oath to faithfully execute his office and deliberately subverted--for whatever purpose--the rule of law.
Ordinary citizens don't enforce the laws for the rest of us. Ordinary citizens don't have the world's mightiest armed forces at their command.
Ordinary citizens do not usually have the opportunity to be figures of historical importance.
In my former profession, those who violated their
sworn oath were punished severely and considered outcasts from our society. I do not hold the President to the same standard that I hold military officers to. I hold him to a higher standard.
Presidents are not ordinary citizens. They are extraordinary, in that they are vested with so much more authority and power than the rest of us. We have a right; indeed, we have an obligation, to hold them strictly accountable to the rule of law….Just as the President is self-evidently the nation's chief law enforcement officer…It is self-evident to us all, I hope, that we cannot overlook, dismiss or diminish the obstruction of justice by the very person we charge with taking care that the laws are faithfully executed. It is self-evident to me.
In times of war or national emergency it is often necessary for the President to call upon the nation to make great economic and personal sacrifices. In these occasions, our President had best be trustworthy--a truth teller whose life of principled leadership and integrity we can count upon.
Of particular concern are the implications of the President's behavior for our national security. The President of the United States is the most powerful person in the world because we are the strongest country economically and militarily, and in the appeal of our idealism for liberty and freedom of conscience.
Our President must be strong because a President personifies the rule of law that he is sworn to uphold and protect. We must believe him and trust him if we are to follow him. His influence on domestic and foreign policies comes from that trust, which a lifetime of words, deeds, and achievements has built.
Some commentators have suggested that with the President having less than two years left in his term of office, the easiest approach is to let the clock expire while hoping that he is sufficiently careful, if not contrite, to avoid reckless and indefensible conduct. But as Senators, we know that the dangers of the world constantly threaten us. Rarely do two years pass without the need for strong Presidentialleadership and the exercise of substantial moral authority from the White House.
The President's role and status in our system of government are
unique. The Constitution vests the executive power in the President, and in the President alone. That means he is the officer chiefly charged with carrying out our laws. Therefore, far more than any federal judge, he holds the scales of justice in his own hands.
In the wrong hands, that power can easily be transformed from the power to carry out the laws, into the power to bend them to one's own ends.
The very nature of the Presidency guarantees that its occupant will face daily temptations to twist the laws for personal gain, for party benefit or for the advantage of friends. To combat these temptations, the Constitution spells out--in no uncertain terms--that the President shall ``take care that the laws be faithfully executed,'' and the President's oath of office requires him to swear that he will do so.
Truthfulness is the first pillar of good character in the Character
Counts program of which I have been part of establishing in New Mexico. Many of you in this chamber have joined me in declaring the annual
``Character Counts Weeks.'' This program teaches grade school youngsters throughout America about six pillars of good character. Public and private schools in every corner of my state teach children that character counts; character makes a difference; indeed, character makes all the difference.
Guess which one of these pillars comes first? Trustworthiness.
So what do I say to the children in my state when they ask, ``Didn't the President lie? Doesn't that mean he isn't trustworthy? Then, Senator, why didn't the Senate punish him?''
There is one central, elemental ingredient that is necessary to the
success of our ability, as a nation, to govern ourselves. That is
trust.Before a President takes office, he swears a solemn oath, to ``preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.''
We accept his word on that.
When the Vice President, United States Senators and members of the House of Representatives take office, they are required to take an oath ``to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.''
We trust that they will live up to that oath.
We administer these oaths and we accept them as binding because government, at least in this nation, is, above all else, a matter of trust. Trust is the glue that holds it all together. If that trust is destroyed or tarnished, it seriously undermines the basic foundations of our government.
When he lied and when he tried to hide his lies… He broke faith with the American people…he also violated the sacred trust of the office of the President. And in so doing, he violated his oath of office.
If we say that some perjuries, some obstructions of justice, some clear and conscious violations of a formal oath are free from our sanction, the Republic and its institutions will be weakened. One exception or excuse will lead to another, the right of the most powerful of our leaders to act outside the law--or in violation of the law--will be established.
Our republican institutions will be seriously undermined. They have been undermined already, and the damage accrues to all equally--Republicans, Democrats, liberals, and conservatives.
Quotes were taken from the Government Printing Office Records of the Senate Trial in January, 1999.
Volume 145, pages 2380-2571
gpo vol 145
This was regarding the House Resolution 614, asking the Senate to impeach President Clinton.