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16:00:00 WARNING: THIS IS AN UNCORRECTED COPY. NOT A FINAL VERSION. ANNOUNCER This is an ABC News Special Report. Now reporting, Charles Gibson. CHARLES GIBSON, ABC NEWS Good afternoon. I m Charles Gibson in New York. And we are awaiting at the moment the appearance of the President of the United States. He is going to appear in the area just adjacent to the South Lawn of the White House. There you are looking at a shot down on the White House. That is the North Lawn, the front lawn of the White House. And the President is inside. He has been meeting with the Democratic members of the House of Representatives. The Democratic members left the Capitol after today s session of the House of Representatives, which, as you probably know by now, at which time, the House adopted two of the four articles of impeachment against the President. There are the buses sitting in front of the White House, and there is the rundown of the House action today. They approved Article 1, which involves perjury before the grand jury. They involved Article number 3, which is the obstruction of justice count. They rejected Articles 2 and 4. As I say, the House Democratic members, who were in the minority on Article 1 and Article 3, then got on buses, which are parked in front of the White House, went to the White House and have been meeting with the President in the East Room. That is the large reception room on the first floor of the White House that many thousands of people have seen when they take the public tour of the White House. Anyway, it is in that room that he was scheduled to meet with the Democratic members, and after that meeting, they were going to be coming out into the area adjacent to the Rose Garden near the South Lawn on the driveway between the White House it s an exit driveway, actually, where functionaries, dignitaries come in. And he was going to have a comment with the press. It s the first time that we ve had a chance to see him on what is obviously a very historic day, not only for President Clinton but for the presidency itself. Sam Donaldson, do we know anything about what they ve been talking about? Is this simply a pep rally, or is there real substance to be discussed here? SAM DONALDSON, ABC NEWS Well, Charlie, it was billed in advance pep rally, I guess, is our term. It was billed in advance as a show of support by Democratic members of the House and leadership up on Capitol Hill for the President. One of the main purposes is to try to counter the idea that Mr Clinton should resign. They anticipated that a lot of people, particularly Republicans, would now call on him to resign, and they wanted to make it clear that not only would he not resign, but his party was behind him in this resolution to stay in office. I think that was principal purpose number one for holding this. And number two, Charlie, the Clinton people for years have been expert at using television to portray messages. And the message they want to portray today is that this president is still in the saddle. He is still doing business as the nation s chief executive, and he has solid support from his party. CHARLES GIBSON Sam, you mention there is you point to the fact that there s great symbolism, therefore, in all of this. But also I think it will be rather important what the President has to say when he comes out. Because it seems to me there are two things he could do when he emerges. Number one, he could be aggrieved. He could be angry. He could be frustrated. Or he could take a rather conciliatory point of view in all of this. SAM DONALDSON That is what we re told the President will do. Maybe other members of the Democratic leadership will continue the assault on the Republicans. But we re told that Mr Clinton, of course, will rise above that, and he will come much more in sorrow than anger. He will say that he wants to continue the job of chief executive. But we re told he also may again express contrition and remorse for having brought the country to this point. And we re also told that he will signal, using perhaps the euphemisms finding some bipartisan solution. Or maybe more direct that he is open to censure. He is open to condemnation. He is open to just about anything the Congress wants to do to him short of removing him from office. CHARLES GIBSON But then, if that is the line he takes, Sam, will we not be in a sort of strange situation where we have countervailing (ph) things happening within the White House. The President being very conciliatory, coming in sorrow not anger, as you point out, and his staff, the people who have to lobby the Senate now in these coming negotiations and perhaps eventually trial, taking a rather hard line about this being unfair, partisan, etc. All the things we heard members of the House Democratic members of the House express in the session today. SAM DONALDSON Well, their strategy at the moment calls for treating the Senate with great respect, including the Republican leaders of the Senate, depending, of course, on how the Republican leaders act in the next few days or weeks. They will concentrate, if they talk about the Republicans at all, about the partisanship in the House of Representatives. But they will come to the Senate showing great respect and asking only for fairness and asking for deliberations. And of course, finding some way, if they can, to avoid coming to the vote. You know, you would think, Charlie, that people who believe in Mr Clinton and think this is an improper process would be very confident that he could win that vote. It takes 67 votes, and they would have to get 15 or more Democrats, depending on how all the Republicans acted, in order to remove him from office. And yet, there is not that great confidence here today that you can just say, Well, all right, let s go to trial, do the Senate work its will, take the vote and we win. They want censure before they come to a vote. CHARLES GIBSON All right, Sam Donaldson. Let me have you stand by, as I know you will. A couple of other things that need to be discussed. And while we re waiting for the President and the Democratic members of the House to come out, we should mention them. Those of you who were watching the debate today heard in rather dramatic fashion the Speaker - elect, Bob Livingston, Republican congressman from Louisiana, who had assumed that he was going to become Speaker on January 6 heard him in rather remarkable fashion say, in front of the House, that I cannot do the job or be the kind of leader that I would like to be under current circumstances. And then he continued by saying the following. REP BOB LIVINGSTON, (R) LOUISIANA So I must set the example that I hope President Clinton will follow. I will not stand for Speaker of the House on January 6, but rather I shall remain as a backbencher in this Congress that I so dearly love for approximately six months into the 106th Congress, whereupon I shall vacate my seat and ask my governor to call a special election to take my place. CHARLES GIBSON That was Bob Livingston in front of the House of Representatives before the votes on the articles of impeachment today. Needless to say, that sent members of the House who did not expect the Livingston announcement into a hub - bub, and there have been some developments on who may be the new Speaker - elect and eventually Speaker of the House. Bill Kristol, who is well piped in to the Republican politics in Washington, is standing by in our Washington studio. Bill, what s happened on that front? BILL KRISTOL, ABC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST Well, I gather Republicans have been meeting ever since they the impeachment articles passed. It looks like there s a pretty strong consensus behind Denny Hastert, the Republican from Illinois. He s a deputy whip right now, acceptable to all factions of the party. Apparently letters being circulated already has more than 50 signatures in support of him. The other candidate is Chris Cox of California, who mounted a short - lived challenge to Livingston and then withdrew, and Livingston had the votes just seven weeks ago. Current House Republican leadership, the rest of it except for Livingston -- that is to say, Armey and especially Tom DeLay, who s awfully influential with the members they are working hard for Hastert, and they expect Denny Hastert to be the next Speaker of the House. CHARLES GIBSON Now you talk familiarily forget me trying to do that word but you speak with great familiarity about Denny Hastert. But that is a name, this is a face that nobody in this country knows. BILL KRISTOL That s true. That was true of historically many Speakers Carl Albert, John McCormick (ph). They were got along well with all functions of the party, were competent, were respected, had lots of friends, had friends across the aisle. Dick Gephardt is friendly with Denny Hastert. They re from neighboring states, obviously. I think Hastert is really is the end of the age of Newt. It is the end of the Speaker as the voice of the party, as an ideological leader. It has returned to a more old - fashioned Speaker, someone who will, as they keep saying, make the trains run, mediate fights among Republicans, defer on the whole to committee chairmen and try, I think, to reach out across the aisle a little bit to the minority party. CHARLES GIBSON Cokie Roberts is also with us on Capitol Hill. Cokie, it was interesting. Bill just said this is the end of Newt - ism. This is a man who appeals to the conservative wing of the party and to moderate Republicans? COKIE ROBERTS, ABC NEWS Well, enough to both of them, I think. And basically, I have here already a statement from Dick Armey supporting Hastert, and I think that something has to get in the way of this train in order to stop it. CHARLES GIBSON All right. While you are speaking, the President has come out of the residence now. You see him there, joined by Vice President Gore, and Mrs Clinton is also with him. And there, second from the left next to the President is the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Dick Gephardt. And I don t honestly know if the other members of the House delegation who went to visit the President are going to be coming with him or not. I m told that they are following him out 101 members. One hundred and one Democrats, that is a good number of the Democrats in the House. That s, also behind them, John Podesta, who is the chief of staff to the President since Erskine Bowles left. Anyway, they are coming out, and 101 100 other Democrats behind or besides Dick Gephardt are also coming out as well. Well, now, the best - laid plans. They ve sneaked into the West Wing of the White House. So I don t know if they re going to come out immediately or not. Anyway, so let me while I ve got, again, this second, let me come back to this, Cokie. To what extent to do we know that this is a done deal, or is the Cox challenge still alive? Do we still have a race between Dennis Hastert and Christopher Cox? Or do we think that this is going to happen? You started to hold up a statement there. COKIE ROBERTS A statement from Dick Armey, the Majority Leader, supporting Dennis Hastert. I think that there s very much an atmosphere right now of trying to get everybody behind Hastert and canonize him or coronate him. But Christopher Cox seems ready to run, and I think he the vote will not be until January. There are a bunch of freshman Republicans that have a say. And I think that you can t quite say that there is already a Speaker - designate yet. CHARLES GIBSON Very quickly, Bill Kristol, while we re seeing the other members of the Democratic delegation come out of the White House, out of the residence and over toward the West Wing, very quickly, there was some talk Democrats were saying, Gee, Bob Livingston, won t you reconsider? I gather that s a nonstarter. There was some talk that perhaps Newt Gingrich now might come back in some sort of cobbled together fashion to resume the speakership. Neither of those were even in the realm of possibility? BILL KRISTOL I don t think so, Charlie. And I guess Cokie was told, heard last night from lots of members yearning for Bob Michel (ph) or Dick Cheney, not going to happen, I think. CHARLES GIBSON All right. There you see the Democratic members David Bonior, the minority whip. John Dingell from Michigan. I can go after name after name after name. But the Democratic delegation gathering around the podium, and I gather once they re all in place, the President will come out. And as we were talking a moment ago, the tone that the President takes here, it is symbolic that all the Democratic members will be standing behind him in this show of solidarity. And as you know by the votes today, there is solidarity among the Democrats. Only five on the critical first article of impeachment abandoned the President and voted with the Republicans. So there is solidarity, and this picture will well demonstrate that. But there is also this question of what tone the President is going to take in the remarks that he makes. And George Stephanopoulos, before the President actually comes out, I was asking Sam there whether the President would be angry or whether he would be conciliatory. I gather you probably agree that he will take a conciliatory tone in the remarks he makes. GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST I think so, Charlie. Because you know, the White House and the President have learned their lesson over this year. You know, we ve talked a lot about missed opportunities. The missed opportunities in January, in August when the President gave his very angry speech after his grand jury testimony. The White House and the President are not going to make that mistake again. President Clinton is likely to take the high road today. Call for a bipartisan compromise on censure, but also go back to what always has worked for him. He s going to do the business of the country, do the people s business. And the White House hopes that this show of Democratic unity will be in sharp contrast to the chaos on the Republican side. CHARLES GIBSON George? GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS Look CHARLES GIBSON George, if he s going to be the good cop then in his response to what has happened today, who s going to be the bad cop? GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS Look at all those people standing by the podium, Charlie. I think the Democrats will continue to say that this was a partisan, illegitimate lame - duck impeachment. That will be the drum beat over the next month. Meanwhile, the President and his lawyers will take a much will offer an olive branch to the Republicans in the Senate. It s a tough balance, but it s the only one they can do. CHARLES GIBSON You know him. How tough a day was this for Bill Clinton, George? GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS I think it s got to have been about the worst day of his life, Charlie. This is a man who s dreamed of being president. Now he s become only the second president to be impeached. But he ll fight through it. CHARLES GIBSON It is seemed, looking at him, and I don t mean to read too much into it, but it is seemed looking at him in the last couple of weeks through that trip to the Mideast and since he came back it looks to me like he has aged, and he s looked tired. And I thought you could see it in his visage. GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS I think that s exactly right, Charlie. I think it s finally settled in. You know, President Clinton has an amazing capacity for denial. But in the last few days, it s all come in on him. This is real. Tomorrow morning, he ll wake up and see these results, and I think he knows that. And he also knows this is probably the hardest thing to deal with that it was, at large part, his fault, and there s nothing he can do about it. CHARLES GIBSON If he feels that, George, though, why is everyone so quick to say it has not entered his mind, he does not give a thought to the idea of resignation? I think the Vice President said that it would be, what is it, it would be more likely that a meteor GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS A meteor striking. Yeah. I think for two reasons. Number one, it s just not in his makeup. Because as much as he feels that he s to blame in part for this, he also believes he s been a victim of illegitimate attacks. But more than that and the argument that unifies all Democrats is that this would be bad for the presidency, that it is somehow wrong for a president to be driven from office, driven to resignation by a partisan vote of the Congress. They think that would be a violation of the presidency, of the independence of the presidency. And they re going to fight on those grounds. CHARLES GIBSON Sam? Is Sam Donaldson still there? Sam, are you there? SAM DONALDSON Charlie? CHARLES GIBSON Yeah, George knows him so well. You have watched him so well in the last few months. Do you see this? Do you see it really settling in on the President? SAM DONALDSON Absolutely. I was in the White House the second time for one week before the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke. And the difference between the Bill Clinton that I saw for that first week and that we ve all seen on television and elsewhere before that, and the one that s aged through these months. George is quite right. The President is expert at denial and expert at believing that others have caused all this problem. But I agree that at this point, I think it is dawning on him that he has no one but himself to blame. Whatever the sins of a Kenneth Starr, whatever the sins of partisan Republicans, he brought us to this point by his actions, and I think it may be really dawning on him that not only is that the fact, but that the future is uncertain. You know, Charlie, Bill Clinton has been very skillful, very good some say also lucky in that he has won the important political battles of his life. But it maybe dawning on him that here is one at last that he may not win. CHARLES GIBSON I should mention we talked about the symbolism of this picture the Democrats from the House of Representatives gathered around that podium, where the President will make his remarks, give his reaction to the actions of the House today in approving two articles of impeachment. There is also symbolism into the picture that you are looking at now. Mrs Clinton right at her husband s side, arm in arm with him, as he comes out, and what we have said over and over again, but it doesn t detract from the fact that it is an historic day. And we now get the President s reaction to what has happened. As we mentioned, Vice President Gore, Minority Leader Gephardt and John Podesta, the chief of staff right behind him. The President getting applause from the Democratic members, and he will speak in just a moment. (Applause) by John Podesta, the chief of staff. JOHN PODESTA, CHIEF OF STAFF On behalf of the President and the First Lady, the Vice President and Mr -- Mrs Gore, the White House and the entire administration, I want to thank the members who came here today and all the members who stood with you on the floor of the House over the past several days. Thank you for standing up for what you believe in. Thank you for standing up for fairness. Thank you for standing up for the American people. Thank you for standing up for the Constitution. And thank you for doing so with dignity and determination, passion and patriotism. I would like to introduce a man who has done so much for our country, a great leader, a great friend of the American people, Congressman Dick Gephardt. (Applause) REP RICHARD GEPHARDT, (D) MINORITY LEADER Mr President, Mr Vice President, First Lady Hillary Clinton, we have just witnessed a partisan vote that was a disgrace to our country and our Constitution. Chairman Henry Hyde once called impeachment "the ultimate weapon" and said that "for it to succeed, ultimately it has to be bipartisan." The fact that a vote as important as this occurred in such a partisan way, violated the spirit of our democracy. We must turn away now from the politics of personal destruction and return to a politics of values. The American people deserve better than what they've received over these long five months. They want their Congress to bring this issue to a speedy compromise, closure. And they want their president, twice elected to his office, to continue his work fighting for their priorities. (Applause) The Democratic caucus in the House will continue to stand alongside our president, and we will work to enact the agenda that we were sent here to pass. (Applause) We look forward to supporting his agenda in the upcoming session of Congress. The President has demonstrated his effectiveness as a national and world leader in the face of intense and unprecedented negative attacks by his opponents. I am confident that he will continue to do so for the rest of his elected term of office. (Applause) Despite the worst efforts of the Republican leadership in the House, the Constitution will bear up under the strain, and our nation will survive. The constitutional process about to play out in the United States Senate will hopefully, finally, be fair and allow us to put an end to this sad chapter of our history. Ladies and gentlemen, it is now my honor to present our great Vice President of these United States, Al Gore. CHARLES GIBSON We mentioned, obviously we re all interested in the President s reaction. They realize that, and so a couple of political speeches from the Minority Leader and the Vice President. Then we ll hear the President. VICE PRES AL GORE Thank you very much, Mr Leader. To you and to David Bonior and to the entire Democratic caucus leadership, thank you for what you have done for our country. I would also like to single out for a special thanks and praise Congressman John Conyers and all of the members of the Judiciary Committee who are present here today. (Applause) And to you, Dick Gephardt, I would like to repeat a judgment that I made to the smaller group earlier. You and I came here on the same day 22 years ago. And in all that time I don't believe I have heard a finer speech on the floor of the House of Representatives than the one that you delivered this morning. (Applause) But in all that time, I do believe this is the saddest day I have seen in our nation's capital. Because today's vote in the House of Representatives disregarded the plain wishes and good will of the American people and the plain meaning of our Constitution. Let me say simply, the President has acknowledged that what he did was wrong. But we must all acknowledge that invoking the solemn power of impeachment in the cause of partisan politics is wrong -- wrong for our Constitution, wrong for the United States of America. (Applause) Republican leaders would not even allow the members of the House or Representatives to cast the vote they wanted to. They were not allowed to vote their conscience. What happened as a result does a great disservice to a man I believe will be regarded in the history books as one of our greatest presidents. (Applause) There is no doubt in my mind that the verdict of history will undo the unworthy judgment rendered a short while ago in the United States Capitol. But we do not have to wait for history. Instead, let us live up to the ideals of this season. Let us reach out to one another and reach out for what is best in ourselves, our history and our country. Let us heal this land, not tear it apart. Let us move forward, not toward bitter and angry division. Our Founders anticipated that there might be a day like this one, when excessive partisanship unlocked a forum of vitriol and vehemence that hurts our nation. We all know that a process that wounds good people in both parties does no service to this country. What America needs is not resignations, but the renewal of civility, respect for one another, decency toward each other and the certain belief that together we can serve this land and make a better life for all of our people. That is what President Clinton has done. That is what he is doing, and that is what he will continue to do for the next two years. I feel extremely privileged to have been able to serve with him as his partner for the past six years, and I look forward to serving with him for the next two years. I have seen him close at hand, day after day, making the most important decisions about peace, prosperity and our future. And making them always by asking, "What is right for the American people? What is right for all of the American people?" I know him. I know his wonderful first lady. I know his ... (Applause) I know his heart and his will. And I have seen his work. Six years ago, he was left with the highest budget deficit in history, and he ended it. Six years ago, he was handed a failing economy. Today, because of his leadership, we are on the verge of the longest period of peacetime prosperity in all of American history. And I know nothing will stop him from doing the job that the American people sent him here to do. I say to you today, President William Jefferson Clinton will continue and will complete his mission on behalf of the American people. I'm proud to present to you my friend, America's great president, Bill Clinton. (Applause) PRES BILL CLINTON Thank you very much. Thank you. Good afternoon. Let me begin by expressing my profound and heartfelt thanks to Congressman Gephardt and the leadership and all the members of the Democratic caucus for what they did today. I thank the few brave Republicans who withstood enormous pressure to stand with them for the plain meaning of the Constitution and for the proposition that we need to pull together, to move beyond partisanship, to get on with the business of our country. I thank the millions upon millions of American citizens who have expressed their support and their friendship to Hillary, to me, to our family and to our administration during these last several weeks. The words of the members here with me and others who were a part of their endeavor in defense of our Constitution were powerful and moving, and I will never forget them. The question is, what are we going to do now? I have accepted responsibility for what I did wrong in my personal life, and I have invited members of Congress to work with us to find a reasonable bipartisan and proportionate response. That approach was rejected today by Republicans in the House, but I hope it will be embraced by the Senate. I hope there will be a constitutional and fair means of resolving this matter in a prompt manner. Meanwhile, I will continue to do the work of the American people. We still, after all, have to save Social Security and Medicare for the 21st century. We have to give all our children world - class schools. We have to pass a patients' bill of rights. We have to make sure the economic turbulence around the world does not curb our economic opportunity here at home. We have to keep America the world's strongest force for peace and freedom. In short, we have a lot to do before we enter the 21st century. And we still have to keep working to build that elusive one America I have talked so much about. For six years now, I have done everything I could to bring our country together across the lines that divide us, including bringing Washington together across party lines. Out in the country, people are pulling together. But just as America is coming together, it must look -- from the country's point of view -- like Washington is coming apart. I want to echo something Mr Gephardt said. It is something I have felt strongly all my life. We must stop the politics of personal destruction. (Applause) We must get rid of the poisonous venom of excessive partisanship, obsessive animosity and uncontrolled anger. That is not what America deserves. That is not what America is about. We are doing well now. We are a good and decent country, but we have significant challenges we have to face. In order to do it right, we have to have some atmosphere of decency and civility, some presumption of good faith, some sense of proportionality and balance in bringing judgment against those who are in different parties. We have important work to do. We need a constructive debate that has all the different voices in this country heard in the halls of Congress. I want the American people to know today that I am still committed to working with people of good faith and good will of both parties to do what's best for our country, to bring our nation together, to lift our people up, to move us all forward together. It's what I've tried to do for six years. It's what I intend to do for two more until the last hour of the last day of my term. (Applause) So with profound gratitude for the defense of the Constitution and the best in America that was raised today by the members here and those who joined them, I ask the American people to move with me to go on from here to rise above the rancor, to overcome the pain and division, to be a repairer of the breach -- all of us -- to make this country as one America what it can and must be for our children in the new century about to dawn. Thank you very much. (Applause) CHARLES GIBSON The President concluding his remarks on the South Lawn of the White House, and some very interesting aspects to all of this. As you watched it, you almost had the feeling that you were watching a political rally. The President saying thank you, thank you, as he looked forward from that dais. But really, all that was in front of that dais were a few cameras. Basically, the audience, obviously the television audience, and that is the audience upon which he wanted to have an effect as he made those remarks. So while it appeared that he was talking to a group of people, he really wasn t. This was designed, obviously, for the cameras. And the President saying now he wants a reasonable bipartisan and proportionate response to what he has done. Obviously, another reaching out to the Congress in hopes that some sort of accommodation can be reached. Some sort of a penalty can be imposed that comes short of the impeachment that was voted by the House today and for which the Senate will now try him. He did say, in all of that, that he hopes all of this will stop the politics of personal destruction and get rid of the poisonous venom that is in Washington. I guess that was a somewhat slap at those who oppose him. But for the most part, his tone was conciliatory. One other interesting byproduct to all of this as you watched it, the Vice President of the United States, Al Gore, was saying to Dick Gephardt, the Minority Leader of the House, that it was the finest speech that he d ever heard in the House given by Gephardt today. And then Gephardt introduced the Vice President in glowing terms, and yet, as you probably know, Dick Gephardt, has entertained the idea of running for president against Al Gore. And so, the two of them, who have some differences of political ambition, were there brought together by the history of this moment and were put in the position of giving high praise to one another on that platform. Sam, let me get your reaction to the President s remarks. Sam Donaldson. SAM DONALDSON Well, Charlie, it s fascinating. If you were the man or woman from Mars suddenly dropped down on the South Lawn and didn t know any of the background and said, What is all of this about? You d be hard pressed to understand that it is about this president having been impeached by the House and sent to the Senate for trial. Mr Clinton made two powerful themes one, that he s accepted responsibility, that he wants to work out something that, as he said, is reasonable bipartisan proportional approach to punish him. He didn t use the words to punish him, but that s what he meant, short of removal. And the second theme, as George Stephanopoulos pointed out earlier, was his plea to stop the politics of personal destruction. He hopes the American people will see this not as the Republicans claim as a matter of about crimes. There s a lot of evidence that the President may have committed crime. But as some sort of bipart or rather partisan, venomous push against him for reasons that would escape this man and woman from Mars. It s really interesting, Charlie. We don t have a precedent for this. Andrew Johnson I don t know what happened then. He certainly didn t come out on the South Lawn, and there was no television. But to have this sort of rally at the end of this day is just phenomenal. CHARLES GIBSON Bill Kristol, your reaction to this, and then I want to ask you a question. BILL KRISTOL I was struck by -- well, he s going to have to reach across the aisle to Republicans in the Senate to work out censure. Or obviously, ultimately, I guess he could just get Democratic votes and fail to get convicted. But if he wants to avert a long trial in the Senate, he needs Republicans. It s odd to begin that process with a purely partisan event. And I was very struck by the sentence, I have accepted responsibility for what I did wrong in my personal life. That is not at issue. The Democrats in the House let s remember, these Democrats in the House introduced a censure resolution that said the President had dishonored his office and abused the public trust. I really think the President needs to say something like that. He needs to acknowledge what the House Democrats have acknowledged -- that he has failed in his official capacity. He can t just keep saying he s made mistakes in his personal life. CHARLES GIBSON There s a fascinating picture, George. And I just want to call attention to it. And I don t want to diminish in any way what you re saying. But we re looking in through the windows into the Oval Office, and one of the people applauding Bill Clinton was Betty Currie. GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS We re looking at Betty Currie s office, Charlie. CHARLES GIBSON I m sorry. Betty Currie s office. GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS Yes, that is Betty Currie s office right off the Oval Office. CHARLES GIBSON Thanks, George. GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS And that s Mrs Currie, and you see Gene Sperling, the director of the National Economic Council. The staff obviously wanted to welcome the President back, and there s Betty Currie giving the President a hug. CHARLES GIBSON And wearing a Christmas sweater, which is very nice. GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS Exactly. CHARLES GIBSON Let me come back to the point. Thank you, George, for clarifying me on the geography there of the West Wing of the White House, which, I should point out, was very much an issue before the grand jury of where all those rooms were situated. But let me come back to what you were saying, because, Bill, you pointed me right to the question that I wanted to ask. For a long time in this House debate, moderate Republicans were saying if we re going to support the President, he needs to come forward and take greater responsibility for what he did in front of the grand jury. They wanted him to acknowledge in some way that he had lied. Now, obviously, he was not going to do that in the statement he made today. Does are the Republicans in the Senate going to insist on that kind of an action from the President, or are we back to basically the President staying exactly where he s been all along? BILL KRISTOL Oh, I think, look, Republicans in the Senate are going to have the view Republicans in the Senate are not going to believe that 223 out of 228 Republicans in the House are somehow purely the captives of partisan spirit, that their action is fundamentally illegitimate or without any merits. Reasonable people can differ on impeachment versus censure. As Cokie said earlier today, for many members it probably was a 51 - 49 percent call. But I don t think the President s going to win over Republican members in the Senate if he makes it seem that you were kind of a nut or just a purely partisan character if you voted for impeachment. I mean, Arlen Specter, the moderate Republican senator from Pennsylvania -- every House Republican, many of them moderates, from Pennsylvania voted for impeachment. Arlen Specter is not going to agree in a sense that his colleagues in the House from Pennsylvania didn t act in good faith. And I think the President will need to distance himself from Dick Gephardt s rhetoric here, say, Look, reasonable people may have made what we regard as a mistaken interpretation of the Constitution here. I acknowledge my errors. Let s close this in an appropriate way. I do think the President, in other words, is going to have to move away from the rhetoric of today. This may have been useful to bolster morale among Democrats. It s not going to be useful reaching out to Republicans in the Senate. CHARLES GIBSON George Stephanopoulos, will he do that move away from that rhetoric of today? GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS Well, not all of it. But I agree with parts of what Bill is saying. First of all, I think the President was a bit more conciliatory than Bill is suggesting, except that he didn t say a lot of the words that Republican senators are going to demand. Perhaps today was not the right day for it, but he is going to have to move in that direction and go farther not in contrition. That s not the issue, but in his admissions of wrongdoing. But the words you will hear in the future are what you heard today the Constitution. There will be a lot of talk about the Constitution by the President and his defenders. The word compromise, the word bipartisan. What the President is going to try to do is reach over the head of the senators and hope that they re affected by public opinion. CHARLES GIBSON Of course, both sides were invoking the Constitution in the debate today. Cokie, let me come to you to finish this. And let me ask you about what George and Bill were just saying. George was saying that he s going to invoke the word bipartisan a lot. It s interesting the Democrats were saying this is an illegitimate process in the House because there was no bipartisanship for impeachment. But I wonder if it is just the Democrats standing fast in the Senate, will we be as offended by bipartisanship if it exists over there as well? COKIE ROBERTS Well, of course, bipartisanship is a two - way street by definition, and the Democrats hung together, and the Republicans hung together. So they were equally partisan. Dick Gephardt, invoking Henry Hyde s line that impeachment ultimately has to be bipartisan, and that s true. Because ultimately two - thirds of the Senate, at least conviction, ultimately has to be bipartisan because two thirds of the Senate has to vote to convict. But it was interesting how he had his other people do the attacks and the thanks, and then the President s main message was move on, which is, of course, the message that he has been very effectively getting across. CHARLES GIBSON Well, I thank all of you for the service with Peter through the day and in this few moments, as we saw the President giving his reaction to what had occurred today in the House of Representatives as they approved two articles of impeachment. There was an event that occurred after Peter went off the air that you should see. Henry Hyde, on behalf of the Judiciary Committee, led a delegation of Republicans to the Office of the Secretary of the Senate, a man named Gary Sisko (ph). And as you see, Chairman Hyde read this statement saying that he was presenting in official form House Resolution 614, which is the resolution of impeachment, contains the two articles of impeachment. The Secretary of the Senate accepted that on behalf of the Senate, and now we wait to find out if, indeed, there will be a formal trial of the President of the United States in the Senate with the Chief Justice of the United States presiding that could ultimately result in the removal of the President of the United States from office. We will have a wrap - up of what has been a very historic day on Saturday World News Tonight later this evening. I should also mention that on This Week With Sam Donaldson & Cokie Roberts tomorrow, Congressman Christopher Cox, who is one of those being considered for Speaker now that Bob Livingston has withdrawn his candidacy -- Christopher Cox of California will be with them. Also, because there is this other story that is going on the bombing of Iraq. There were explosions in Baghdad at the very moment that the Speaker Pro Tempore, the man in the chair, Ray LaHood of Illinois, was announcing that the House had adopted the first article of impeachment, at that very moment, bombs were dropping over Baghdad. And so, tomorrow on This Week will be the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Henry Shelton, and also the Secretary of Defense, William Cohen. I m Charles Gibson in New York. Good afternoon.
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