Saturday, December 19, 1998 Published at 15:07 GMT
Livingston quits over affair
Bob Livingston: "I hope President Clinton will follow"
The speaker-elect of the House of Representatives, Bob Livingston, dropped a bombshell during the debate to impeach President Clinton announcing that he will not take up his position as speaker in the next Congress.
"To my colleagues and friends and most especially my wife and family, I have hurt you all deeply and I beg your forgiveness," he said.
White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart said the president urged an end to "the politics of personal destruction" and on behalf of the president, asked Mr Livingston to think again.
House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt also asked Mr Livingston to reconsider.
"We need to stop destroying people on an altar of unattainable morality," Mr Gephardt said. He received applause from not only his Democratic colleagues but also from Republicans when he praised Mr Livingston as "a worthy, good and honourable man".
In an emotional speech, Tom DeLay, a strong advocate for impeachment, praised Mr Livingston.
Choking back tears, he praised Mr Livingston for having the courage to "put his family, his friends, this House and his country above any ambitions he may have".
Mr Livingston disclosed his affair earlier this week when he said his behaviour had almost cost him his marriage.
At that time, calls to resign were rejected. In a reference to President Clinton, he said his indiscretions were not with his employees and he had never been asked to testify on oath about them.