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that sort of thing, I think each member of this committee is capable of making a value judgment when he has to be called upon to finally conclude whether or not the material is going to be used in that capacity.
With that, I believe that there is no further—Mr. Seiberling. Mr. SEIBERLING. May I just make a comment that I want to commend Mr. St. Clair for making a very professional presentation here under very difficult circumstances. I think that he has conducted himself excellently.
Mr. St. CLAIR. Thank you, sir. I would like to have the record show that I had the assistance of a number of people without which I could not have possibly done this. I would like the record to show that.
I personally appreciate, however, your comments. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you, Mr. St. Clair.
[Whereupon, at 6:45 p.m., the committee recessed to reconvene at 3 p.m., Monday, July 1, 1974.)
MONDAY, JULY 1, 1974
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D.C. The committee met, pursuant to notice, at 3:25 p.m., in room 2141, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Peter W. Rodino, Jr. (chairman) presiding.
Present: Representatives Rodino (presiding), Donohue, Brooks, Kastenmeier, Edwards, Hungate, Conyers, Eilberg, Waldie, Mann, Sarbanes, Seiberling, Danielson, Drinan, Rangel, Jordan, Thornton, Iloltzman, Owens, Mezvinsky, Hutchinson, McClory, Smith, Sandman, Railsback, Wiggins, Dennis, Hogan, Butler, Cohen, Lott, Froehlich, Moorhead, Maraziti, and Latta.
Impeachment inquiry staff present: John Doar, special counsel; Allert E. Jenner, Jr., special counsel to the minority; Samuel Garrison III, deputy minority counsel.
Committee staff present: Jerome M. Zeifman, general counsel; Garner J. Cline, associate general counsel; and Franklin G. Polk, assoCiate counsel.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will come to order. The gentleman from California.
Mr. W'ALDIE. Yes, Mr. Chairman. I would like to make a motion and to speak to the motion.
I move that the committee receive in executive session the testimony of witnesses called pursuant to House Resolution 803.
The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman is recognized.
Mr. Waldie. Mr. Chairman, thus far, the committee has taken all of its evidence in executive session pursuant to a motion made by the gentleman from Massachusetts relative to the initial phase of hearing that there was a tendency, there was a possible tendency that the evidence would seem or tend to degrade and defame. I opposed the motion at the time it was made, believing that the committee should operate in open session, but I was a minority, a distinct and small minority, and the committee operated for 6 weeks receiving this evidence in executive se-sion, to which confidentiality then attached and to which confidentiality still attaches. Then there was a motion that all of this evidence be released to the public, a motion which I supported. The evidence has not yet been released and the motion was conditioned that confidentiality remain as to that evidence until such time as it has been published.
It would then occur to me, Mr. Chairman, that if there were reason to worry about a tendency to degrade and defame, a tendency to jeopardize pending cases by the receipt of documentary evidence as to which some prior control as to its nature and content could be exercised, that tendency or probability is exacerbated when you are receiving oral testimony of witnesses, particularly of witnesses of the nature that are on this committee list.
Furthermore, given the fact that there is no evidence that we have yet received as to which confidentiality has been removed, it does seem to me to be beyond dispute that calling live witnesses to testify as to events and to be cross-examined and direct-examined pursuant to documents as to which confidentiality applies would be absurdity. Therefore, Mr. Chairman, I move that the committee do receive in executive session the testimony of the witnesses called pursuant to House Resolution 803.
Mr. McCLORY. Mr. Chairman?
Mr. MoCLORY. Mr. Chairman, I want to speak vigorously against the motion offered by the gentleman from California. In one sense, I am surprised that the gentleman from California is the sponsor of this motion, I recall distinctly the Ford confirmation hearings in which this same subject arose and when the gentleman from California stated very eloquently that this is indeed the public's business and the public has the right to know, to see, and to hear the action that is occurring in this committee.
If that was a proceeding in which the public's business was being discussed and considered, much more so is this historic impeachment inquiry the Judiciary Committee is conducting at the present time. This is an honorable and a respectable and respected hearing that we are conducting. Yet I think the American people have misunderstood our actions and our mission up to the present time. The reason they have misunderstood is because they have not had a chance to look in and listen in as to the action we are taking here. What they have heard and what they have received up to the present time are leaks, comments, interpretations, press releases, press meetings, and briefings, and that sort of thing, which does not give a clear and accurate and true interpretation of what is going on here in our committee.
The opportunity to correct this is provided for us now with the movement to this stage of witnesses who are going to appear before our committee. Our first witness, I understand, is going to be Mr. Alexander Butterfield. He is not a witness that is going to defame or degrade or that we are going to have any problems of that nature with. Here is a witness who is going to illuminate, who is going to explain, who is going to provide information which not only the committee has a right to know but which the American public should have a right to know and they should have a right to know it directly.
I would like to suggest, Mr. Chairman, that what happened here just a few moments ago on the floor of the House is not the considered, deliberate judgment of the Members of the House; it is the suspicions of the Members of the House, because when they don't know and they don't see what is going on, they suspect the worse. That is what happened with the American people in large measure, I believe.
Now, I don't want to say this without quoting the source, and yet the source is frequently not provided, but let me say that the source is responsible, that it is charged by a representative of the media that the Democrats do not feel that they can impeach the President unless they close the hearings. Now, I deny that myself and I know that the members on your side, Mr. Chairman, deny that, deny that any such statement or any such attitude would be expressed. Yet if there is a strong vote to close the hearings, to close the doors, to give the impression that this is some kind of a star chamber proceeding or that it is prejudicial and not fair and open and above board, that kind of suspicion and that kind of attack is going to be made.
So I say this is a time for us to indicate that the people's right to know is being acknowledged. We are going to be fair to the President. We are going to be fair to the President's counsel and they have requested that these hearings be open and that we do give a chance and opportunity to the American people to be illuminated and informed with respect to what we are doing.
This is the rule of the committee. This is the trend of action in the House of Representatives, to have all of our hearings and all of our business open and above board and in public, and it seems to me we should respect that and acknowledge it and promote it by our action here today. I hope that members on both sides of our committee here will vote down this motion of the gentleman from California. Thank you.
Mr. SEIBERLING. Would the gentleman yield?
Mr. RALLSBACK. Mr. Chairman, I would like to ask the gentleman from California, Mr. Waldie, a question. I wonder, Mr. Waldie, if you have the same apprehension that I think many members had when they voted to release the evidence; that is, that there might be some selected leaks which would be very distorted and misrepresentative. Do you think that perhaps we will have some selective leaks if we close these meetings like we have had ?
Mr. WALDIE. No.
Mr. RAILSBACK. I would be inclined to agree with you if I had the same assurance, but I voted to release the materials that we agreed to release because the selected leaks gave a one-side picture. I am just concerned that that could happen again.
Mr. SEIBERLING. Would the gentleman yield?
Mr. SEIBERLING. As I recall, both gentlemen from Illinois voted to close the session when we were having the documentary presentation. And of course, I suppose the argument is now that because of leaks in the past that perhaps created a one-sided picture, we should now throw the session open when we get to witnesses.
Mr. RAILSBACK. Let me explain what the reason was. The reason why I reversed my position is I thought the chairman and our staff made a very eloquent plea that we should close the meetings to preserve the confidentiality that the staff had theretofore been able to accomplish. As soon as it came to the members, all of a sudden, there was a tidal wave of leaks.
Mr. SEIBERLING. Well, I was one of the people who took the position, which was a minority position, that at the end of each day's session of the documentary presentation, we should vote on releasing that day's material. Of course, that position was never agreed to. Now, it seems
Mr. RAILSBACK. I agree with you. I agree with you.
Mr. SEIBERLING. It seems to me that now that we have agreed to release all this documentary material in one huge, indigestible mass, which the public can't possibly absorb in any reasonable length of time, and the only thing the public would see would be the interrogation of a few witnesses on a few narrow points, that they are going to get an equally slanted and jaundiced view of the whole proceeding, and that the only thing to do is to be consistent with the pattern that we have followed up to now. I am sorry that the gentleman from Illinois has seemed to think that there is some sort of partisan aspect to this. If you look back in the record of last year when certain members of this side of the aisle were talking about
Mr. RAILSBACK. If I may interrupt the gentleman, I am not suggesting that there is a partisan aspect to the leaks.
Mr. SEIBERLING. No, I am talking about on this particular issue.
I was one person who opposed bringing an impeachment proceerling last summer because I took the position that we were not, we had no right to try to attack one man whom we happen to disagree with philosophically. Our only obligation when we are talking about impeachment is upholding the Constitution. And you know, politically, it might be an easy thing to do to just follow the easy way out and not worry about impeachment from the standpoint of the majority. But I don't think we should approach this from that point of view. I certainly do not and I do not think most people on the other side of the aisle do.
Mr. MCCLORY. Will the gentleman yieid?
Mr. McClory. Let me just say this: I voted last week to release all of the evidence, to put it all in the public domain, and it seems to me it is entirely consistent, since we are putting the record, we are delivering the record to the public with regard to all of the hearings that we have had so far, that we would now vote also to have the hearings in the public eye.
Mr. SEIBERLING. If the gentleman will yield, the consistent thing to do is follow the pattern we have followed with respect to documentary evidence and release it after the fact, after we have heard it.
The CHAIRMAN. The time of the gentleman from Illinois has expired.
Mr. SANDMAN. Mr. Chairman?
Mr. SANDMAN. Mr. Chairman, I was one of those people from the outset that believed that, if we kept this thing in executive session to protect innocent third people and also to do as good a job as we could,