Never Condoned Lying Under Oath, Hyde Says

From a Times Staff Writer

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry J. Hyde (R-Ill.), revisiting the Iran-Contra scandal of 1987, defended his support of President Reagan’s advisors but insisted that he never condoned lying under oath.

“I said ‘context is everything,’ and I stand by that,” Hyde said during Tuesday’s impeachment hearing. “Trying to save Central America from a Castro takeover required some clandestine operations, and they required sometimes withholding information.”

He was responding to Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles), who cited a Los Angeles Times article recounting the contrast between Hyde’s statements on lying in 1987 and his current position on President’s Clinton’s deceptive statements about his affair with Monica S. Lewinsky.


“You have done a 360-degree turn,” Waters told Hyde. “I’m a little disappointed. Never in my wildest imagination did I think that you would have such a conflict in views about perjury and lying.”

In 1987, when Reagan’s aides were accused of lying to Congress, Hyde defended them and faulted those who “label every truth and every deception an outrage.”

This year, Hyde has said he emphatically rejects the notion that “perjury, lying and deceit are in some circumstances acceptable.”

During Tuesday’s hearing, the Illinois Republican said that he draws a distinction between lying to members of Congress, as key Reagan administration aides were charged with doing, and lying in a judicial proceeding, one of the allegations against Clinton.

“At no time did I sanction perjury,” Hyde said. “At no time did I sanction [Lt. Col.] Ollie [L.] North or [Vice Admiral John M.] Poindexter lying under oath,” he said.

Iran-Contra prosecutors noted recently, however, that Hyde welcomed the 1992 pardon of former Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger, who had been indicted for lying under oath before a grand jury.


Hyde said that the Times article prompted him to take another look at his words from 1987.

“I wrote a special dissenting report and I reread it. And if I do say so myself, it’s real literature,” he said.