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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Byrd upheld law - when it helped Democrats

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 29, 2010

There was an omission in the listing of noteworthy votes by the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd, West Virginia Democrat, in the article "Sen. Robert Byrd, longest-serving member of Congress, dies at 92" (Web, News, Monday). I refer, of course, to the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton.

On Aug. 6, 1974, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette quoted Mr. Clinton as saying of President Nixon: "No question that an admission of making false statements to government officials and interfering with the FBI ... is an impeachable offense. ... If a president of the United States ever lied to the American people, he should resign."

Twenty-four years later, on Dec. 19, 1998, Mr. Clinton was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives, becoming only the second president in U.S. history to be impeached and the only man popularly elected as president to have been so indicted.

Mr. Byrd made the following statements regarding Mr. Clinton's impeachment, Published in the Congressional Record for Feb. 12 1999: "The president plainly lied to the American people. Of course, that is not impeachable, but he also lied under oath in judicial proceedings" and, "The president lied to the American people, and, while a great majority of the people believe, as I do, that the president made false and misleading statements under oath, still, some two-thirds of the American people do not want the president removed from office."

Much is made of Mr. Byrd being the "soul" of the Senate, the one to hold his colleagues to the letter of the Constitution. It seems, however, that was only the case when Mr. Byrd deemed doing so to be convenient or politically expedient. Having admitted that Mr. Clinton's perjury charges reached the prerequisite for removal from office, he wrote, "I called for these proceedings to be dismissed, out of genuine concern for the divisive effect that an ultimately futile trial would have on the Senate and on the nation." Failing to get the proceedings dismissed, he voted against conviction.

In other words, out of concern for the nation (i.e., the Democratic Party) Mr. Byrd chose to not follow the letter and intent of the Constitution.

STELLA L. JATRAS

Camp Hill, Pa.

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