Gephardt Lashes Out About Gingrich Comments
WASHINGTON (April 30) -- Saying "we don't need to turn government into the Jerry
Springer show," House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt is urging Speaker Newt
Gingrich to recuse himself from consideration of matters regarding the House
campaign finance investigation. Breaking his silence on the issue, Gephardt
wants Gingrich to remove himself from the debate because of remarks Gingrich made on the subject this week.
At his weekly news conference Gephardt said he has sent a letter to
Gingrich, expressing his concern that the Speaker has repeatedly accused the
Clinton administration and Democrats on the Government Reform and Oversight
Committee of obstructing justice.
Gingrich has made the remarks in a series of speeches and floor statements
addressing the independent counsel's investigation of President Bill Clinton and the
House campaign finance investigation.
Saying the Georgia Republican has no business taking a stance on the investigations
before he is presented with all of the facts, Gephardt said "He [Gingrich] has
the ultimate responsibility for seeing that Congress carries out fair and
Gephardt asserted that if rules and procedures are not followed "it's a
kangaroo court, it's putting people above law, and we will entirely lose the
respect of the people of this country, no one will believe in anything we
produce here in an investigatory process, and we literally become the Jerry
Springer Show in the Congress. And I'm here to tell you the American people
deserve better than that."
Gephardt said of Gingrich "my concern is that he seems to be taking the
position of judge and jury, that is, he is deciding these issues before he's even
presented with the facts, and I think that disqualifies him from being able to
carry out his duties as Speaker of the House. The Speaker of the House should
be non-partisan, in an investigatory mode should be looking for facts, trying
to help the Congress get to the facts."
Elaborating, Gephardt said "the Speaker has given up his ability to be an
objective chief judge, if you will, and he's got to turn these matters over to
people like [House Judiciary Committee Chairman] Henry Hyde and others who can
carry them out in an objective manner."
Defending the court motions made by the president's lawyers, and the
decision by Democrats to vote against immunity for Government Reform witnesses
last week, Gephardt said that the legal maneuvers and committee actions are
legitimate actions, and the Speaker does not have the right to judge them.
Asked if he believes Gingrich has concluded that impeachment of Clinton is warranted, Gephardt said "the last time we went through this with
the president, obstruction of justice was one of the main charges as a high
crime and misdemeanor and Congress voted in the committee for impeachment.
That sounds to me like a conclusion has been reached."