Lott, Gingrich Differ Over Starr Probe
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, March 7) -- While defending Whitewater independent counsel Ken Starr, Republican leaders appeared to be at odds on Saturday on how Starr should proceed with his investigation of President Clinton.
While Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott suggested that Starr should wrap up his investigation, House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Starr should take his time.
Lott, speaking on CNN's "Evans & Novak," said: "It's time to show his cards. If he's got something, go forward with it. But at the same time, I think he needs to wrap it up, show us what he's got, indict, convict people. Or if he doesn't, close it out. But then I've never been a fan of the independent counsel law."
Gingrich said he doesn't know why Lott made the remarks and said Starr should take his time.
"I think he ought to go at the pace that justice dictates, not the pace that public relations dictates," Gingrich said.
The White House welcomed Lott's remarks.
"Senator Lott has acknowledged what the American people realized a while ago. It is time to end this $40 million, four-year investigation that seems to have no end in sight," said White House spokeswoman Nanda Chitre.
Republicans have spoken little on the investigation since Starr began seven weeks ago looking into allegations that President Clinton had sex with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky and then urged her to lie about it under oath.
But GOP leaders back Starr over criticism
President and Mrs. Clinton leave the White House Saturday
Both Lott and Gingrich defended Starr against recent criticism.
"I am frankly sickened at the degree to which there has been a deliberate politicizing and a deliberate smear campaign against a former federal judge," Gingrich said at a breakfast in his home district in Georgia.
Lott referred to "malicious, vicious attacks" by Clinton supporters that are "totally uncalled-for."
In his remarks, Lott also offered an alternative for Congress to take instead of impeachment if Starr's investigation shows that Clinton is guilty of minor wrongdoing. He said that Congress could pass a resolution that would censure the president and show displeasure with his conduct.
The resolution would have no legal effect and no effort is under way in Congress to pass such a resolution.
Ginsburg scolded over comments to media
Meanwhile, Monica Lewinsky's attorney, Bill Ginsburg, was chastised by the judge in the case, sources told CNN. Judge Norma Holloway Johnson told Ginsburg on Thursday in a closed hearing that his frequent comments to the news media were hurting Lewinsky and complicating the investigation.
Since then, Ginsburg has become less media-friendly, but said he's only upset with aggressive camera crews. He snapped at with photographers in Los Angeles on Friday.
"So right now folks, control yourselves, control your colleagues and call Washington and tell them thanks for the memories, because I am not going to be cooperative for a while," he said. "And get out of my way."
Next week, White House secretary Betty Currie is scheduled to go before the grand jury again on Tuesday, and is likely to be followed by Clinton adviser Bruce Lindsey.
Testimony by Lindsey is likely to renew the debate over the White House's attempt over executive privilege. Lindsey and two other aides have claimed executive privilege in order to avoid testifying about their conversations with President Clinton about Lewinsky.
Sources tell CNN that periodic talks in search of a compromise have yielded no results and both sides anticipate a court challenge over whether the conversations are protected by executive privilege.