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Judiciary panel will debate impeachment inquiry next week

Another 3,000 pages of documents are due out later this week

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, September 28) -- Lawmakers could vote as early as next Monday or Tuesday to launch an impeachment inquiry of President Bill Clinton, as the House Judiciary Committee moves into the next phase of its work on the sex-and-perjury scandal.

Rep. Henry Hyde, the committee's chairman, said the panel will meet in open session next Monday to begin discussing whether to proceed with an inquiry. In the meantime, the panel turned over more pages of Independent Counsel Ken Starr's supporting evidence to government printers Monday, for public release later this week.

Rep. Henry Hyde  

"The question facing the committee is quite simple, really," Hyde told Capitol Hill reporters. "Do the allegations against the president merit further investigation? Should we inquire further into these allegations or refuse to take a closer look and just shut down? That's the issue."

In his report to Congress earlier this month, Starr accused Clinton of lying under oath about his sexual affair with Monica Lewinsky and attempting to obstruct justice.

Hyde said he thinks there is enough to the allegations against Clinton to warrant an impeachment inquiry. But the Illinois Republican declined to predict whether the panel will vote to launch one.

"There will be a full debate in the open," Hyde declared.

Hyde also announced he has asked the panel's constitution subcommittee, headed by Rep. Charles Canady (R-Florida), to meet as soon as possible to discuss what constitutes impeachable offenses.

Also, a bipartisan team of investigators from the committee will visit Starr's office to review more material from Starr's four-year investigation, Hyde said.

"The independent counsel notified us two weeks ago that there were additional materials in their possession that were unrelated to the charges of impeachable conduct and we were free to review them whenever we wished," Hyde said.

Hyde said Democrats on the panel want to see the material. "They have a lurking suspicion that there may be exculpatory material, and so we're going to accommodate them," Hyde said.

Hyde said the Judiciary Committee has completed the first phase of its work by reviewing and editing more than 50,000 pages of documents.

"Everything has been read, much of it several times," Hyde said.

Hyde said the committee, which met Friday, has agreed to withhold some of the material for privacy or national security reasons and to remove some sexually explicit material.

The material expected later this week, maybe as early as Thursday, includes testimony from the key figures in the grand jury investigation, including like Clinton friend Vernon Jordan, adviser Bruce Lindsey and secretary Betty Currie, and edited transcripts of the taped conversations between Linda Tripp and Lewinsky. The actual edited tapes will be delayed, probably until next week.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein  

Hyde rejected criticism that Republicans are not treating Democrats on the panel fairly. He lashed out at Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) for comments she made over the weekend that the Democrats only had a file folder and a cellular phone and were being denied adequate resources. Hyde called Feinstein's comments "wildly unfair and inaccurate."

Hyde said any perception of unfairness is "based on misinformation and based on spin, because that's all the Democrats have to talk about."

"We are doing our level best to be credible," Hyde added. "If we aren't credible, what we do amounts to nothing. We understand that. And we're trying to be fair. That doesn't mean we lay down and play dead. We're still the majority. We can't let them (the Democrats) run the committee, much as they would like to. But we are being fair."

Meanwhile, White House adviser James Carville said Sunday he is "rolling into battle against Newt Gingrich."

In a series of blistering comments made on NBC's "Meet the Press," Carville called Gingrich "an adjudicated liar and tax cheat."

He accused Gingrich of being behind the investigations of Clinton and said Gingrich is calling the shots, including the decisions coming out the Judiciary Committee under the chairmanship of Hyde.

Carville said "the most crowded place in Washington is in Gingrich's hip pocket, because he has the whole Republican caucus in there."

Carville added that Gingrich does not have an "iota" of fairness in him.

CNN's Bob Franken contributed to this report.

Investigating the President


Monday, September 28, 1998

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