Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D., N.Y.) speaking at a House Judiciary Committee hearing Dec. 10, 1998:
The effect of impeachment is to overturn the popular will of the voters as expressed in a national election. We must not overturn an election and remove a president from office except to defend our very system of government or our constitutional liberties against a dire threat. And we must not do so without an overwhelming consensus of the American people and of their representatives in Congress of the absolute necessity.
There must never be a narrowly voted impeachment or an impeachment substantially supported by one of our major political parties and largely opposed by the other. Such an impeachment would lack legitimacy, would produce divisiveness and bitterness in our politics for years to come. And will call into question the very legitimacy of our political institutions.
The American people have heard all the allegations against the president, and they overwhelmingly oppose impeaching him. The people elected the president, they still support him. We have no right to overturn the considered judgment of the American people. There are clearly some members of the Republican majority who have never accepted the results of the 1992 or 1996 elections and who apparently have chosen to ignore the message of last month’s election. But in a democracy, it is the people who rule, not political elites, and certainly not those members of political elites who will not be here in the next election and the next Congress having been repudiated at the polls. Some members of this committee may think the people have chosen badly; but it is the people’s choice and we must respect it absent the fundamental threat to our democratic form of government that would justify overturning the repeated expression of the people’s will at the ballot box.
Dec. 19 WSJ