(CNSNews.com) – On Dec. 18, 1998, when the House of Representatives was debating whether to impeach President Bill Clinton for perjury and obstruction of justice, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) declared on the House floor that the impeachment was “a punishment searching for a crime that does not exist” and was happening “because the Republicans in the House are paralyzed with hatred of president Clinton.”
“I urge my colleagues to vote no, stop this hatchet job on the presidency,” Pelosi said then. “Stop this hypocrisy. Stop this hatred. Vote no on all four counts.”
“Today the Republican majority is not judging the president with fairness but impeaching him with a vengeance,” she said. “In the investigation of the president fundamental principles which Americans hold dear, privacy, fairness, checks and balances, have been seriously violated, and why? Because we are here today because the Republicans in the House are paralyzed with hatred of president Clinton, and until the Republicans free themselves of this hatred, our country will suffer.”
“It is about sex,” Pelosi said of the Clinton impeachment. “It is about a punishment searching for a crime that does not exist.”
The House Judiciary Committee had sent four articles of impeachment to the House floor in December 1998. The first article was for perjury in a federal grand jury; the second article was for perjury in a federal civil suit; the third article was for obstruction of justice; and the fourth article was for abuse of power.
The House approved the first and third of these articles, and rejected the second and fourth.
The table of contents in the House Judiciary Committee’s 1998 report on the impeachment articles summarized the first article of impeachment against Clinton as follows: “The committee concluded that, on August 17, 1998, the president provided perjurious, false, and misleading testimony to a federal grand jury concerning the nature and details of his relationship with a subordinate government employee.”
That article was approved by a House vote of 228 to 206.
The table of contents summarized the third article of impeachment against Clinton this way: “The committee concluded that on or about December 17, 1997, William Jefferson Clinton corruptly encouraged a witness in a federal civil rights action brought against him to execute a sworn affidavit in that proceeding that he knew to be perjurious, false and misleading.”
This article was approved by a House vote of 221 to 212.
Pelosi voted against all four of the Clinton articles of impeachment.
Here is the transcript of the speech she gave on the House floor opposing Clinton’s impeachment:
Pelosi: Mr. Speaker, today is a tragic day for our country because, while our young people are fighting in the Persian Gulf and bringing honor to our country, we are bringing dishonor to it with our hypocrisy here in this chamber. Today the Republican Party is not judging our president with fairness but is impeaching our president.
Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R.-Wis.): “Mr. Speaker, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker Pro Tempore Ray LaHood (R.-Ill.): The gentlewoman will suspend.
Sensenbrenner: “Mr. Speaker, I make a parliamentary inquiry— ”
Speaker Pro Tempore LaHood: “State it.”
Sensenbrenner: “I don’t think the word ‘hypocrisy’ on this floor is in order. It impugns–
Speaker Pro Tempore LaHood: “The gentlewoman from California would have to yield for that purpose.”
Pelosi: “I do not have enough time to yield, Mr. Chairman.”
Speaker Pro Tempore LaHood: “The gentlewoman may proceed.”
Pelosi: “Thank you. Today the Republican majority is not judging the president with fairness but impeaching him with a vengeance. In the investigation of the president fundamental principles which Americans hold dear, privacy, fairness, checks and balances, have been seriously violated, and why? Because we are here today because the Republicans in the House are paralyzed with hatred of president Clinton, and until the Republicans free themselves of this hatred, our country will suffer.
“I rise to oppose these unfair motions which call for the removal of the president of the United States from office, and in doing so wish to point out some difference between the investigation of the president and the investigation of Newt Gingrich.
“The first principle in our investigation of Newt Gingrich was that at the moment we found exculpatory information it would be reported immediately to the accused and be made public.
“The independent counsel knew that the president was exonerated in Travelgate, Whitewater and Filegate, and he held that information until the hearing, indeed until after the election. This was not fair.
“Indeed, it is the responsibility of any prosecutor to immediately release information that is exculpatory.
“So it is not about Whitewater, it is not about Travelgate, and it is not about Filegate. It is about sex. It is about a punishment searching for a crime that does not exist.
“In the Gingrich probe we drew every inference in favor of the accused, but in this case it took a closing question from a member of the grand jury to Monica Lewinsky to say: ‘Is there anything you would like to add to your prior testimony?’ for Monica Lewinsky to respond, and I quote: ‘No one ever asked me to lie, and I was never promised a job for my silence.’
“The point is why did the independent counsel not elicit that important testimony?
“In the Gingrich case we spent a major part of our report explaining the laws which were violated. The Judiciary Committee has not proven perjury, it has not even defined perjury. Instead, it has kept the subject intentionally vague. Whether one is violating a marital vow or some other aspect of his personal behavior, it is not an impeachable offense. You have not proven perjury.
“In the Gingrich probe we had a bipartisan unanimous vote in our subcommittee and an almost unanimous vote on the floor because we built consensus and we tried to bring the matter to closure—may I have an additional minute—
Rep. John Conyers (D.-Mich.): “I can give the lady 30 seconds.”
Pelosi: “Okay. Well, in that case I will have to submit the rest to the record where I say that censure is closure, censure is constitutional. John Marshall, the Supreme Court Chief Justice of the United States testified that it was. How can the Republicans–we come to punishment–how can the Republicans exalt Newt Gingrich to the highest post of speaker after he admitted lying to Congress and try to impeach the president of the United States for lying about his personal affairs?
“I urge my colleagues to vote no, stop this hatchet job on the presidency. Stop this hypocrisy. Stop this hatred. Vote no on all four counts.”