Local News

North Carolinians Respond to Clinton Acquittal

Posted February 11, 1999

— Friday marked the end of a dark chapter for the President, theCongressand the country.

TheSenatevoted to acquit President Clinton, who was found not guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice. In fact, neither charge got a simple majority vote.

N.C. Democratic SenatorJohn Edwards, who sat in on the taped deposition of witnesses,voted not guiltyon both counts.

"I think that the prosecution failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the president either committed perjury or obstructed justice," Edwards said.

However, N.C. Republican SenatorJesse Helms, whovoted guiltyon both charges, made scathing remarks about those who condemned the president's actions then voted to acquit him.

"I am not exaggerating, some of the worse things said about the man were said by people who got up and said not guilty today," Helms said. "And that is the reason that I say to you that it was a political gambit."

Helms called a motion to censure the president a "cover my fanny" proposition. The senate blocked that move with many saying it should never be brought up again.

For the Triangle's two congressman, the end of the trail marked a new beginning.

"I am very glad that it is over," says Rep. David Price, D-NC. "I hope we can now move on to this country's agenda, and can heal some of the divisions that have resulted from this in Congress and in the country."

"The vote's behind us now, we have to look forward and get on with the agenda that I came to Washington to work on," saysRep. Bob Etheridge, D-NC.

After 13 months of Monica and five weeks of the impeachment trial, Triangle residents joined in a collective sigh of relief that it was finally over.

The impeachment vote unfolded during the lunch hour at Woody's Tavern inCary. Customers watched as President Clinton was acquitted.

The verdict did not surprise anyone, but one Cary mortgage broker says she is disappointed.

"Well, I think he's getting away with it," says Joanna Stovall. "There should be some type of punishment for what he's done, and I think he's getting away with it."

"If the average citizen could commit perjury and go to jail, then I think someone who runs the country should also face the same penalty," says Rick Haas, a pharmaceutical employee.

Haas' co-worker Willie Bolick agrees with the verdict. He even encouraged his kids to watch the historic trial.

"I think although Clinton is obviously not the guy you want as your next door neighbor, the crimes he committed don't rise to the level of impeachable crimes," Bolick said.

A moving company employee followed the trial with interest, but he thinks it was a waste of time and taxpayers' money.

"If they wouldn't have pushed it, he wouldn't have had to lie," says Joey Ashbridge. "I would have lied about the same thing. He was protecting his family."

At historicMordecai Parkin Raleigh, they were talking about the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson. Christina and Ralph Remy were touring Johnson's birthplace on their honeymoon.

They were happy Clinton's trial was history now too. "I'm glad it's over already," says Christina Remy. "It dragged on way too long and at least now we can go back to the norm."

Clinton is not free from troubles: He could face indictment, while in office or after his term, by Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, and must finish his remaining months in office facing a GOP-controlled Congress that wanted him evicted from the White House.

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