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tv   [untitled]  CSPAN  June 20, 2009 2:00am-2:30am EDT

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and we will make sure that at the end of the day, we have a health insurance bill that will cover almost all americans, will hold down healthcare costs, will provide affordable, good quality health insurance coverage and we are going to pay for it. >> can explain how you got the number of 90% americans? >> we think it is somewhere between, somewhere around 95. again, the cbo depending on the structure of it, that can change, so that number is not setting a-- set in concrete. we know there are people who are healthy and remain healthy for of all time and will never encounter the system. there will be for a period of time people are unaware of this because people are still trying to get tv with a rabbit ears, after all of the hundreds of millions of dollars of ads and rebates and the rest of that,
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so, again, you ought to be careful about what you promise and we think this is and the ball park.
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much time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for as much time as he may consume. mr. conyers: we're here today to perform one of the most solemn duties under the constitution, which is to consider the impeachment of a sitting member of the judiciary, a federal judge, who but for the congressional power of impeachment holds a life tenure on his office. the judge in question, samuel b. kent of the united states district court for the southern
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district of texas has already pled guilty to obstruction of justice and has entered in and is residing in a federal prison at this moment. the judiciary committee's independent investigation conducted admirably by a special task force established for that purpose and led by the gentleman from california, mr. schiff, has concluded that the charge underlying that guilty plea is overwhelmingly borne out by the evidence. as are the related charges of repeated sexual assault against various court employees under his supervision. judge kent's conduct is described in greater detail and the -- in the report filed by
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our committee which voted unanimously 29-0 to recommend four articles of impeachment to the house. the court documents and other materials are available on the committee's website. of the three branches of government devised by the framers of oour constitution, only the judicial branch is insulated from the accountability of standing for election. this is by design. the other two branches, the legislative, the executive are designed to be democratically responsible to the people. but the judicial branch is designed to be independent, to interpret the laws passed by the congress without favor and without fear of political reprisal.
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so article 3, section 1, provides that federal judges hold their offices during good behavior, quote-unquote, and when a judge abuses his power, when by his conduct he proves himself unfit to hold his office, he cannot be turned out by the voters. instead, it falls to the congress to ensure that the public trust of that office is protected through the power of impeachment. congress has used this power sparingly. in our nation's history, only 13 federal judges have been impeached. and even fewer convicted. needless to say, the conduct at
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issue here is both shocking and shameful. in due course, many of the disturbing details of judge kent's appalling conduct will more than likely be revealed. but now, i want to emphasize for the members the following points. the committee is recommended -- the committee is recommending impeachment not merely on the fact that the judge has pleaded guilty and has been sentenced to prison. rather, it is his conduct. making false statements to his fellow judges in an official -- to fellow judges in an official inquiry and sexually assaulting courthouse personnel that the committee has independently
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determined to constitute high crimes and misdemeanors warranting his impeachment and removal from office. the judiciary committee determined overwhelmingly, unanimously, after most careful examination, that the judge's conduct plainly renders him unfit to remain a federal judge. entrusted to use the power of his office to dispatch justice impartially, this judge abused his power blatantly with partiality and favor for his own personal gain. entrusted to render justice, he had instead sought to evade it. only congress can remove judge
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kent from office. until we do so, he will continue to draw a salary as a sitting federal judge, even from his prison cell. while the executive can prosecute him and the judiciary can impose punishment for his criminal conviction, only the congress of the united states has the power to remove him from office. and that is our constitutional duty here today. i bring this resolution to the floor with heavy regret that we are even called upon to take such action. let it be clear, i have no doubt that this member of the judiciary must be removed from office -- from the office that he has so blatantly abused.
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the evidence is overwhelming. the grounds for impeachment perfectly clear. i therefore urge my colleagues to support this resolution and mr. speaker, i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from michigan reserves the balance of his time the gentleman from texas is recognized. mr. smith: i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. smith: mr. speaker, we are here today to consider and vote on articles of impeachment following u.s. district judge's jam -- samuel kent's guilty plea and sentencing. judge kent pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and lying to a panel of judges that who were investigationing allegation he is sexually assaulted two women on his staff. following his guilty plea and
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sentencing herb house authorized an inquiry into whether the house should impeach judge kent. recently, the committee heard testimonfrom two women who judge kent assaulted. their testimony was troubling, especially since he used his position to get away with it. he has refused to appear before the committee. he sent a letter to president obama tendering his resignation , effective june 1, 2010. by resigning june 1, 2010, he's attempting to receive his judicial salary for another year.
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that's why we are here today, to take the next step to putting an end to judge kent's abusive authority and exploitation of the american taxpayers. the judiciary committee approved four articles of impeachment against judge kent. two parols -- two articles relate to his sexual misconduct and two to his lying about his conduct. i am not unsympathetic to the claims he endured difficult personal tragedies and might suffer mental illness. however he does not have the right to continue to serve as a federal judge and collect a taxpayer-funded salary while sitting in prison for federal obstruction of justice. judge kent has remained on the bench long after he sexually assaulted two women and lied to law enforcement officials. it is now time for justice, justice for the american people, who have been exploited by a judge who ignored his oath
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of office. though his attorney claims that congress has, quote, better things to do, end quote, ensuring that a federal judge convicted of a felony does not receive a taxpayer-funded salary while sitting in jail is important to our system of justice and the priority of this congress. every day that judge kent remains on the bench is one day too long. i urge my colleagues to vote in favor of these articles of impeachment to restore integrity to the federal bench. i hope the senate will act quickly to ensure swift justice for judge kent, his victims, and the american people. i'll reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from texas reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from michigan. mr. conyers: mr. speaker, i am pleased now to recognize one of our most distinguished members of the judiciary committee who headed the task force for
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impeachment in our committee, adam schiff, he has perform -- adam schiff -- he's performed remarkably well in a bipartisan committee and his former experience as an assistant u.s. attorney held him in very good stead. i recognize the distinguished gentleman from california for 10 minutes. . mr. schiff: i thank the gentleman and appreciate the great leadership of the chairman of the judiciary committee. today we find ourselves in a regrettable circumstance where we must act to remove a federal judge from the bench. the task before us is not one we welcome, but it is an important responsibility that has been entrusted to us by the founders and one which we must not shrink from. we have been fortunate to have a
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distinguished judiciary that served as an essential and co-equal branch of our government. we owe a great deal to the positive, thoughtful and vital role played by the nation's judges. to insulate members of the bench and ensure that judges are free to determine the justice of the cases before them on the basis of the law alone and no outside influence, federal judges are appointed for life. unlike elected officials who may be removed periodically by the voters or serve a term that comes to an end. the founding fathers provided only one extraordinary method of removing a federal judge, that of impeachment. the president cannot remove a judge he has appointed and the courts cannot. conviction of a federal or state offense is powerful to remove a judge from office. only the congress may remove a judge and only then by impeachment of the house and conviction in the senate for treason, bribery or other high
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crimes and misdemeanors justifying their removal. because we have been blessed by an extraordinary judiciary and because the bar for removal is high, the extraordinary remedy of impeachment of a federal judge has been used only 13 times in the nation's history, but the matter before us today warrants its use once again. last month, the house judiciary task force on judicial impeachment was directed to inquire whether judge kent should be impeached. as the chairman, i would like to report on our work and provide the members of the house of the facts. as the task force we were served by the capable ranking member by virginia, bob goodlatte and worked to proceed in a fair, open and deliberate matter and done so in a bipartisan, really nonpartisan basis. samuel kent was appointed in 1990 and served in the galveston courthouse in the southern district of texas. he was the sole judicial officer in the courthouse and imposing
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figure who exercised a substantial degree of influence and control both inside and outside of the courtroom. at some point in 2001, judge began sexually assaulting two women employees who served in the courthouse. these assaults occurred through may of 2007, when one of the victims filed a judicial misconduct complaint with the fivert circuit court of appeals. in response the judicial council of that circuit appointed a special investigative committee to investigate the complaint. onune 8, 2007, judge kent, pursuant to his own request was interviewed by the special investigative committee of that circuit. they sought to learn from judge kent whether he engaged in unwanted sexual contact. judge kent made material and false states about the extent of his contact with ms. mcbroom. he also told the investigative committee that once he was
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informed -- he was questioned about another female employee in the courthouse, his secretary, donna wilkerson and told the investigative committee that once ms. wilkerson informed him his advances were unwelcomed, no further sexual contact occurred when in fact he continued his sexual contacts with ms. mcbroom and ms. wilkerson. the department of justice commenced a criminal investigation relating to the judge's conduct as well. in november, 2007, judge kent was asked and granted an interview with the f.b.i. during an interview he requested, he was asked about his alleged conduct and false statements he had made to the fifth circuit. in august, 2008, he asked for a meeting at the department of justice and he sat down with his attorney and f.b.i. agent and representatives of the department of justice. department of justice. and again, judge kent made


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