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 TIME on politics Congressional Quarterly CNN/AllPolitics CNN/AllPolitics - Storypage, with TIME and Congressional Quarterly

Democrats announce alternative proposal for impeachment proceedings

They want a six-week inquiry into just the Lewinsky allegations

WASHINGTON (October 2) -- House Democrats unveiled their alternative Friday for a limited, six-week review of Independent Counsel Ken Starr's allegations against President Bill Clinton, saying the Republicans' proposal could lead to a two-year "fishing expedition."

At a Capitol Hill news conference, Rep. John Conyers (D-Michigan) said Democrats' proposal would mean a "focused, fair, expeditious and deliberate" process. The chances that the Republican-led House Judiciary Committee will adopt it next week appear slim, though.

Judiciary committee Democrats
Judiciary Committee Democrats
spoke Friday on their proposal
for a limited investigation of
the president

Under the Democrats' plan, the committee would first define a standard for impeachable offenses, then review Starr's referral on Clinton's sexual affair with Monica Lewinsky and his subsequent legal testimony. The House proceedings would start October 12 and end by November 25, with the option for a two-week extension.

"Without a date certain, this proceeding could turn into a yearlong, two years, politicized fishing expedition of enormous expense," said Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.

Conyers and other Democratic members of the Judiciary panel announced the proposal just hours before the planned public release of another nearly 4,000 pages of Starr's supporting evidence from his sex-and-perjury evidence of the president.

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-California) accused Republicans of pushing for an open-ended inquiry as part of a political strategy for the November elections and beyond to the 2000 presidential race.

"The public is saying get this thing over so we can focus on America's agenda for progress," Waters said. She charged that Republicans want to drag out the Lewinsky inquiry to 2000 to affect presidential politics.

Republicans want no time limit, though.

"I think that accepting an artificial time limit on this particular inquiry would be about as foolish as the Democrats who controlled the Watergate committee felt the same thing would be," said Rep. James Rogan (R-California).

Democrats also are seeking to limit the probe strictly to the Lewinsky matter. Clinton has admitted to an improper intimate relationship with the former intern, but denied lying under oath or attempting to obstruct justice.

Republicans are using the so-called "Watergate model," which set no time constraints and also set no limits on the subject matter.

In an attempt to limit the scope of the investigation, Democrats have written a letter to Republicans asking that Starr let them know if he has any further information that might apply to impeachment.

"If there are no such referrals then the committee can easily confine the scope and duration of the review," the letter reads.

Still to be decided is whether to put forth a Democratic-backed motion of censure against Clinton, as an alternative to an impeachment inquiry. Democrats did not discuss that option at the news conference and were not asked about it.

Investigating the President


Friday, October 2, 1998

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