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tv   [untitled]    July 4, 2012 3:00am-3:30am EDT

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labovitz, was sort of a leading figure there. and we divided people among these various task forces. i was sort of over all the task forces in effect. they didn't sort of directly report to me. it was not all that hierarchical, you know. i was sort of in charge in my mind of it the factual investigation. i would work with each of the task forces to some extent and then when the tapes came in later on, i was sort of in overall charge as least as i remember it.
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other people can remember it differently but i do remember it. in dealing with the tapes in having the tapes transcribed, analyzing the tapes and deciding how we're going to use the tapes. so that was sort of my role. and then i was going to be -- in charge is too strong a term as if i'm the only person, i'm not the only person, but i was one of the key people because there wasn't a lot of trial lawyers there. so then i was going to be in charge. again i use that word. i was going to have a very important role, let me put it like that, in planning the trial in the senate. you know, that's what i was really -- i was convinced that nixon, president nixon would never resign even, you know, and that we would have to try this case in the senate. so i was always thinking how do
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i try -- as i do in private practice when i have a case or i did in the u.s. attorney's office when i was a prosecutor. how do we try this case? who are we going to call? who are our witnesses? what are our documents? what are our themes? this is the kind of thing we did. my other function in connection with that, i was tasked to make a key presentation to the committee on the necessity for a third article in the article of impeachment which involved our inability to get tapes and documents directly from the white house. the tapes we got obviously were from the independent -- from the special prosecutor who received them as a result of litigation against the president in the supreme court. they refused to turn over many documents and tapes to us, and we, under my leadership here, we claimed that was in itself an impeachable offense not to cooperate with the committee and we had law going back to the
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mid-1800s to support that. that was a very important position. i took a very strong position which doar basically agreed with mostly that we're not going to go to court to try to get documents or tapes, that the courts had no role in this process, that the constitution set up the impeachment process. there was a basis to try to impeach a president, that was a congressional prerogative. when congress started a legitimate impeachment inquiry, it was entitled to reach into dark recesses of the administration to get whatever documents and tapes or whatever existed to help it formulate a decision with respect to impeachment. and if the executive branch and the president refused to cooperate that itself was contrary to the constitution, that undermined the constitutional scheme. so we didn't go to court. we didn't bring a case in court. the recent clinton impeachment proceeded differently but that was a phony impeachment. that was a political impeachment. this was a -- as hillary once said to me, the only constitutional impeachment was the one we did in 1974. so one of my key roles was to be involved and in charge of to some extent with factual gathering and that meant trying to deal with the white house to get these things. when they didn't give us a lot of the stuff which i thought undermined our ability to
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present a proper case to the house judiciary committee, that in itself turned into an impeachable offense i thought. we drafted an article which was involved in drafting, and i was also involved in making the presentation to the committee in support of voting out that article of impeachment. and it was voted on. there was a third article of impeachment. in my mind, i still think about it now. it's still a key historical precedent and constitutional precedent in the event of any future impeachments which i hope none really come up that the executive branch is obligated to cooperate if there really is a legitimate impeachment inquiry. >> but what happens to the -- so you believe that then the concept of executive privilege has to be completely waived then by the white house? >> in an impeachment inquiry, yes. not in any other inquiry but not in a criminal case or not in any other case, but the executive privilege falls on an
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impeachment inquiry. that's the only place it falls. that's i believe. that's not the way it worked out in watergate and hasn't worked out since. in watergate, it so happens the supreme court, as we discussed the supreme court decided that there is such a thing as executive privilege. but it can be overridden by the needs of the criminal case. that resulted in them ordering the tapes to be turned over. president nixon then turned over the tapes and then the tapes were then sent to us by the special prosecutor. >> but if -- >> that's a different -- >> i was going to ask you, if the impeachment proceedings involves a crime by the president, you are not then asking the president to waive his fifth or her fifth amendment rights? >> the impeachment proceeding is not a criminal proceeding. the impeachment doesn't send anybody to jail. the impeachment proceeding is to decide whether somebody is fit to stay in office. in that proceeding, the president takes the fifth amendment or refuses to testify
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because they might be subject to a criminal proceeding, then you can take that into consideration in effect in deciding he's not fit to stay in office. it's a whole different thing. and also, we have big discussions about this, and other people can discuss this as well or better than i, you know. to impeach a president, you don't have to prove that he committed a crime. this was a major discussion. there doesn't have to be a felony. high crimes and misdemeanors has a different meaning under the constitution we thought that the word crime or misdemeanor normally has. it had to be something that only a president can do that undermines our constitutional structure, that's an abuse of power whether it turns out to be criminal or not. that was a very interesting discussion at the time. and the misuse of the fbi to investigate your political opponents may or may not be a crime but that's an impeachable offense. the misuse of the cia. you know, whether or not it turns out to be a crime is an impeachable offense.
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when you send the cia to, you know -- to act outside its proper parameters for your own political interests, that's a crime. that's rather an impeachable offense. it may not be a crime. that's an impeachment offense. those are the issues we tried to deal with at the time and that's what we tried to articulate at the time. >> when it's articulated in that document, the grounds for -- >> for impeachment, right. >> can you tell us what you remember? who was on which side in that debate? >> no, i don't think -- the others may have different memories, and it's been a long time, obviously. i don't think we had different sides so much. but i think we all reached a conclusion. i know i reached our conclusion.
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there was not a lot of opposition. the more we looked into it, the more we realized that we really were investigating not whether the president committed a crime but whether there was an abuse of power by the executive branch and by the president. with respect to the watergate matter. and that's all we really needed to show ultimately. we had to do that, and i don't think there's a lot of conflict on the staff. we took time to reach that position because this was all new. there hadn't been an impeachment of a president in 100 and some odd years. the last one was andrew johnson. that was clearly a political thing over this act, you know, which congress passed saying he couldn't fire the secretary of war. it was much more confined, much more narrow thing, and he almost was impeached over that. it's true congress can impeach a president for anything it wants to impeach a president. but the proper way of looking at it is to see whether or not there was a fundamental misuse of power by the executive branch contrary to our structure of government, contrary to our constitutional principles. and that's what we concluded. i don't think there were people
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on different sides of that. maybe some people at the beginning said, no, we really have to prove some sort of crime, but i don't remember anybody pushing that hard. labovitz i think was one of the key people who wrote that memo, the grounds for impeachment memo. i think hillary helped on it, too, on that memo. but that's the conclusion we reached at the time. and i think that's the conclusion that's still correct. >> since you oversaw as much as a kibitzer as a supervisor of the task forces tell us how you came to conclude how to present the information to the committee. you had an enormous amount of information. >> yeah. well, this was -- here i give most of the credit not to myself because i don't deserve the credit but to doar. this is an interesting problem. doar -- well, look. the thing really took off after
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we got the tapes. we realized the stuff on the tapes was very powerful. and, of course, you had the 18-minute gap and all those issues. doar was the one who decided that we're going to present this in a sort of low-key, neutral fashion, she is sort of statements of facts, whatever we call them at the time. i haven't refreshed myself on this and these books that were given with listing fact after fact after fact. statements of information. that's what they were called. i still have that books. statements of information. not even facts. it was interesting. we weren't even -- we didn't want -- shows how cautious john was. demonstrating where we came up
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with this statement of facts. what can we call a statement of facts. but establish -- if you say it's a fact, you're making a judgment that something happened. you say it's a statement of information, you just produced some data so that somebody else can make a judgment as to whether it's accurate or factual. . even shows have careful distinguished thought out. but i give all the credit here to john. this is not the normal way you present to a grand jury or -- but he did it like that. as a trial lawyer, because i conducted grand jury investigations in my time, you sort of want to spice it up a little bit.
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on andrew, 18 this happened, on july 3, this happened, and then this document, this piece of grand jury system which we got or this tape will back that up. and he wanted it to have some sort of cumulative effect. i think without the tapes, it would have fallen flat. but then we had the tapes. and also we did finally call witnesses. finally we did have witnesses testify. and i was actively involved in the witness preparation. i prepared john dean. whoever was in power, sort of
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i'll tell the dean story which was interesting. i sat with dean for four or five days preparing to testify before the house judiciary committee. an he's very intelligent, he's very smart and he was very knowledgeable about what happened. he was a key, key witness before the senate watergate committee. so i'm preparing him for his testimony. and of course there are gaps, like with everybody, you try to sort of figure out. so i played the tapes with him. we would listen to the tapes and then i'm trying to figure out what happened between incident one, and incident two, day one and day two. and i normally would do, a witness sometimes, we could try to sort of logically figure out what would have happened, to sort of connect certain things, but i didn't know for sure.
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all of a sudden i start seeing dean agreeing with every logical hypothesis that i would put forward, because he wanted to go along with it. i knew he didn't want to go along. i just wanted to try to figure out what happened. but i realized he wasn't going to go along with it. because i didn't want to put words in his mouth. some prosecutors do that, as i have learned over my career. dean was perfectly willing to sort of accept my hypothesis. so i became somewhat cautious. then i realized, listening to
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the tapes, listening to dean on the tapes with president nixon, that nixon would be doing the same thing with him. so he would start going along with president nixon. he would try to direct him in a way, and what i found when i was talking to dean, the same 1-2-3 inni inning -- thing was happening again. i was in a position of power, i represented the house of representatives. so he was like going along with me, just like he was going along with president nixon. somewhat anti-climatic.
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james sin claire, the president's trial lawyer, who was a good lawyer, who i got to know during the hearings, cross-examined, but really the truth is, the witness is not a great impact. john dean's testimony didn't secure president nixon's impeachment and i remember john mitchell, he was a tough guy, he wouldn't talk. he was a tough guy. mitchell, he wouldn't give an inch. i guess he testified before the committee too, dean testified, it's similar to the way he testified before the senate watergate committee.
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everybody was saying, we got to have witnesses, we got to have witnesses. it turned out it was the right instinct. we had witnesses, we had to satisfy the committee. if it was up to dole, we would haven't had witnesses. but the pressure of the committee was we had to have some witnesses, so doar said we had to have some witnesses, so it was my job to prepare these witnesses and the witnesses, which i had hope would have great impact. was these statements of information, one after another, which were boring, plus the tapes. the tapes -- once you heard the tapes, then you could put the tapes together with documents and some of the testimony, that created this impetus for impeachment. >> tell us when you first heard
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about the tapes. >> i'll tell you when i first sheared about the tapes and i'll tell you hillary's connection with it. i heard the tapes by myself. i was one of the first people on the staff to hear the tapes. doar obviously heard the tapes at the same time. we were -- shocked is the wrong word. this was tremendous proof to us that really there was a significant abuse of power by the white house. which went to the very top of the white house. so it had a big impact on doar, had a big impact on me that we really had a case here, which was reflected in the articles of impeachment that we ultimately drafted to the committee. and then, and we got them transcribed, and i have this investigative memory of them playing with the committee for the first time.
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and i remember sitting there, this was a private review of the tapes. everybody had their earphones on listening to the tapes, but i didn't have my earphones on, i heard the tapes. i have never forgotten this. i saw this committee, i saw -- especially the republicans, the people -- we were desperately trying to make this nonpartisan to reach over to the other side if we recommended impeachment. and after we had the tapes, i knew we were going to recommend impeachment. they acted very disturbed when they were listening to the tapes, i sat there, see, i said, they realize that this is something we have to do. i said to myself, as i was sitting there, just watching the committee in the committee room in his private session. and i remember the session ended
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and everybody taking off their earphones and they're walking out and i was really pleased to see that it had that impact. a day or two later, we had another meeting with the committee to discuss the tapes, to discuss what we heard and we were going to leave that discussion and engage with doar. and all of a sudden they came in and i started hearing rationalizations, he didn't really say that, he didn't really mean that, this was just hypothetical, all of a sudden you saw them trying to escape the language of the tapes, the 24 or 48 or 72 hours that had passed since they heard the tapes, they came in with all sorts of rationalizations, of course we answered that with a lot of things and this friendly discussion, i mean we were the staff, there was a committee. but i -- oh, my god, this is going to be-this is going to be a tough sell. i said, so i was really
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concerned about how this thing was going to come out at the time. and then -- listen to hillary's story. sort of that evening or just about that time, i had a big, remember i still was you know better economic position than most -- i was older, i was one of the oldest people on the staff. it was a very young staff, i was 36 years old. i was 37 during the impeachment. i was an old man, compared to the others. and since i had a car and this is washington in the '70s in sort of a dangerous place, it was my job to drop the staff members off at night. so i would haul people in my car at 11:00, 12:00 at night and i
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would just drop them off and go to my little apartment that i had. one night i'm dropping all these people out. and one person to call that night was hillary rodham, she was a hard worker and really aggressive and really smart. so anyway, i'm driving, and she's in the car along with me and i'm driving to where she lives, she was living with a woman named sarah irman. i'm sort of pulling up to a place, not quite there yet, and she says to me, i want you to meet my boyfriend, he's coming in tomorrow, or something like that. i said, oh, great, she said what's his name. she said bill clinton, i met him in law school, and we have been going out.
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she said you got to meet him. i said that's great, i would be happy to meet him. i liked hillary a lot. i would be happy to meet him. oh, yeah, he just graduated, what firm is he going to? he's not going to a firm, he's going into politics he's going to be the senator of arkansas. or the governor or something of arkansas and he'll be president of the united states. and i look at this woman, this 26-year-old woman and i say -- and i remember to this day, i say, what have i gotten myself into. i am now a senior person on the staff, i'm sort of in charge of the tapes, i present these tapes to the committee, these tapes are devastating evidence with respect to the impeachment, the committee hears it and realizing it and it comes back later and rationalized them away. we're not going to be able to make the case. we're going to be looked upon as
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the dumbest lawyers in history not being able to make the case, and doar refuses to hire people that i want down here, real trial lawyers who could help me make this case. he hires a bunch of kids, really bright kids, one of these kids is sitting next to me, very bright, never really tried a case or anything, and now she's telling me her boyfriend's going to be president of the united states. this is nut, so i blow up, i start screaming at her. i said that's idiotic. i said, that's the stupidest thing i ever heard. what kind of a child are you, when you're saying president of the united states. i started screaming. i guess all this frustration away from home, the tapes and the committee, not hiring certain people, i start screaming at her because she tells me her boyfriend is going to be president. i said what about your children? and she looks at me, she glares,
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we pulled up to this place and i still resh, she looked at me, she glares at me, she says to me, she gets really mad. and she said, you're an [ bleep ] she says to me. you don't know what the [ bleep ] you're talking about. this guy's great, you know, you haven't even met him and you're just a big jerk or something and she opens the door and slams the door and goes into her place. i'm sort of blaming myself, i said what did i do? she says her boyfriend's going to be president, why should i get so upset about it. i was very upset. so the next day i go into the office, the first thing i do is seek her out to apologize. i was going to apologize to her, i was also her superior so to speak, but i was screaming at her. before i could apologize, she comes and apologizes to me for
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saying, so we apologize to each other. we make up immediately and then she brings in this tall, good looking guy who i never met named bill clinton and he comes in and i chat with him for a while, i don't say anything, somebody said he was running for congress or something that year. i said oh, good luck. i don't want to start anymore more fighting with bill clinton or hillary rodham, his girlfriend. and you know, we greet and then it's the last i see of him at that particular point in time. because as time goes on. before -- at the end of the impeachment, after president nixon resigned, she tells me she's going to arkansas. i'm trying to talk her out of going to arkansas. a nice guy, i'm not telling her what to do with her romantic
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life. but i tell her not to go. but she goes and he runs for congress that year in 1974, and he loseses, but not by very much. he ran against a guy who was in office for eight terms or something like that. loses by about four or fife percentage points. he's 27 years old at the time. the next year, i get a letter from her, saying he's running for attorney general. of arkansas and when i said in the contribution, i'm not going to fight with hillary anymore, i sent her a contribution right away. i'm packing up my law firm now so i have money. and sure enough, he wins as attorney general. two years later, he runs for governor, and she gets in touch with me and asks me to contribute, to help, so i do, a
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little bit. and actually i was in touch with her over the years also because my firm was using that firm on certain major matters. so i'm sort of in touch with her, not very much. so i contributed to the 1980 race, and of course he's elected governor. and i'm thinking, oh, my god, this is crazy. and she -- i can't go because of the big trial so i never went to a gubernatorial race. and two years later, he runs for governor again in 1982, and he loses. i said, see, i knew i was right. you should have gone to a law firm. and he runs for governor two years after that and he wins. >> tomorrow a congressional gold medal ceremony for the first african-american marines known as the montfort point marines.
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speaking at the ceremony, house speaker john boehner, house minority leader, nancy pelosi and senate leaders harry reid and mitch mcconnell. that's tomorrow at 10:00 at cspan. >> the live of a sailor included scrubbing the deck in the morning, working on the sails, climbing aloft. whatever the duties assigned, gun drill practice, by the end of the day, you're ready forrest. but you don't get a full night of sleep, on a ship like this one is four hours on, four hours off. >> the sailor lived in fear of the possibility of being whipped with a cat of nine tails. it was always carried by a petdy officer in a bag. and the sailor never wanted to


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