Clinton reaches out to congressional leaders
Starr opposes giving president's legal team preview of report
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Sept. 8) -- As the White House and Capitol Hill brace for the delivery of Independent Counsel Ken Starr's report on the Monica Lewinsky investigation, the president is trying to regain his political footing both with fellow Democrats and the Republican leadership.
Clinton is trying to arrange breakfast meetings this week with both Democratic and Republican congressional leaders.
Clinton will meet early Wednesday in the White House residence with
eight senior House Democrats before heading to Florida for the day. Those invited are Minority Leader Dick Gephardt and Reps. David Bonior, Vic Fazio, Barbara Kennelly, Martin Frost, Rosa DeLauro, Chet Edwards and Robert Menendez.
Then on Thursday morning, Clinton is trying to arrange a breakfast
with House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, as well as Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle and Dick Gephardt.
White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry said the Lewinsky matter will "certainly" come up during those talks. "Congress comes back, obviously
having a lot on its agenda; the president wants an opportunity
to talk to the leadership," McCurry said.
|Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle|
A Democratic source told CNN Tuesday the president's planned meetings with Democratic leaders Wednesday "won't hurt. It's certainly not sufficient, but it's necessary."
Clinton also has a prayer breakfast with religious leaders Friday, another opportunity to try to prove he can effectively govern despite the scandal.
Whether the president plans to again publicly address his admitted inappropriate relationship with the former White House intern is unclear.
When asked if he would give another speech or interview, McCurry said, "The president's getting a lot of advice about things he might do in the days ahead, and he will do what he chooses to do and what he believes is right to do."
Clinton's legal team plans strategy
Separately, sources tell CNN the president's lawyers -- personal attorney David Kendall and White House counsel Charles Ruff -- are planning to ask House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Henry Hyde and ranking Democrat Rep. John Conyers for a meeting to discuss how the committee plans to handle any report from Starr.
The two attorneys want to discuss with the committee leaders how the panel would handle responses from the Clinton's legal team.
|House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt|
Just when Starr will send his report to Congress is a mystery, and could be later this week or early next.
But several sources said they were expecting Starr would signal his readiness by sending a letter to Gingrich saying his report was ready and asking for guidance on how he should forward it to Congress.
Kendall has already sent a letter to Starr requesting "a brief opportunity" to review the information "before it is transmitted" to Congress.
Kendall's letter, dated Monday, was provided to CNN by his office amid indications that Starr's report to Congress would be sent in the next two weeks, specifying, in the language of the independent counsel statute, "... any substantial and credible information ... that may constitute grounds for impeachment."
"If the (Office of Independent Counsel) does decide to transmit to the House of Representatives not merely the 'information' it has gathered, but some form of 'report' or summary containing any factual and legal analysis or conclusions, we believe that fundamental fairness dictates that we have the opportunity to review such a document and submit simultaneously any reply we wish to make."
Starr denies Kendall advance copy of report
In a letter Tuesday responding to Kendall's request, Starr rejected Kendall's inquiry and recommended Clinton's legal team take any further requests directly to the House of Representatives.
"Without directly commenting on the content, form or prospect of any
report...my conclusion is that you are mistaken in your views as to...your right to review a 'report' before it is transmitted to Congress," Starr wrote.
"In my view it is for Congress, the repository of the impeachment power, to decide if and when such information should be provided to your client," Starr's said in a four-page letter to Kendall. "If you believe it is appropriate for your client to be allowed to review that information (should any be forwarded to Congress) before that information is made public, I suggest that you address your concerns to the House of Representatives, where such a decision might be
The White House said, in fact, Kendall will ask for a meeting with House leaders to make such a request.
Kendall's original letter confirms earlier speculation that there would probably be a response from the president's side to a Starr report.
Lott said Tuesday he didn't think much of the request for an advance copy of the report. "Why should they [White House] receive special treatment?" Lott said.
Speaking to reporters on the Senate floor, Lott said the matter is up to the House of Representatives and Starr. Lott suggested if the White House received the report it would then be "selectively released."
|Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott|
But McCurry said, "I think it's a matter not so much of legality as of fundamental fairness, that the president ought to have a right to respond to any report if there is such a report."
Kendall wants some sort of proceeding in front of Chief Judge Norma Holloway Johnson to discuss the ways to handle documents and transcripts that until now have been kept secret.
House sources tell CNN those secrecy rules would not necessarily apply once that material reaches Congress.
CNN's Bob Franken, John King and Janet Moore contributed to this report.