NPR News Special Coverage of the Impeachment Inquiry of President Bill Clinton
Statement by President Clinton
Friday, December 11, 1998
Good afternoon. As anyone close to me knows,
for months I have been grappling with how best to reconcile myself to
the American people, to acknowledge my own wrongdoing and still to
maintain my focus on the work of the presidency.
Others are presenting my defense on the facts, the law and the
Constitution. Nothing I can say now can add to that. What I want the
American people to know, what I want the Congress to know is that I am
profoundly sorry for all I have done wrong in words and deeds. I
never should have misled the country, the Congress, my friends or my
family. Quite simply, I gave in to my shame.
I have been condemned by my accusers with harsh words, and while
it's hard to hear yourself called deceitful and manipulative, I
remember Ben Franklin's admonition that our critics are our friends,
for they do show us our faults.
Mere words cannot fully express the profound remorse I feel for
what our country is going through and for what members of both parties
in Congress are now forced to deal with. These past months have been a torturous process of coming to
terms with what I did. I understand that accountability demands
consequences, and I'm prepared to accept them. Painful though the
condemnation of the Congress would be, it would pale in comparison to
the consequences of the pain I have caused my family. There is no
Like anyone who honestly faces the shame of wrongful conduct, I
would give anything to go back and undo what I did. But one of the
painful truths I have to live with is the realty that that is simply
not possible. An old and dear friend of mine recently sent me the wisdom of a
poet, who wrote, "The moving finger writes and, having writ, moves on.
Nor all your piety nor wit shall lure it back to cancel half a line,
nor all your tears wash out a word of it."
So nothing -- not piety, nor tears, nor wit, nor torment -- can
alter what I have done. I must make my peace with that.
I must also be at peace with the fact that the public
consequences of my actions are in the hands of the American people and
their representatives in the Congress. Should they determine that my
errors of word and deed require their rebuke and censure, I am ready
to accept that.
Meanwhile, I will continue to do all I can to reclaim the trust
of the American people and to serve them well.
We must all return to the work, the vital work of strengthening
our nation for the new century. Our country has wonderful
opportunities and daunting challenges ahead. I intend to seize those
opportunities and meet those challenges with all the energy and
ability and strength God has given me. That is simply all I can do,
the work of the American people.
Thank you very much.
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