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Clinton asked to 'admit or deny' Starr report facts

Independent counsel will be only major witness in impeachment inquiry

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, November 5) -- As the House impeachment inquiry proceeds, Judiciary Committee chairman Henry Hyde sent a list of questions to President Bill Clinton on Thursday, asking him to "admit or deny" the major facts outlined in Independent Counsel Ken Starr's report to Congress.

Provided the White House stipulates to much of the record, Hyde also announced that Starr would be the only high-profile witness to testify in the upcoming hearings. Starr is scheduled to appear during a public session November 19.

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Urging the president to answer the 81 questions posed in the nine-page letter, Hyde said the White House's cooperation was critical if the investigation is to be completed by the end of the year. Clinton's answers "will simply help us to establish what facts are in dispute and what facts are not," Hyde said.

Henry Hyde
Hyde announced his impeachment
inquiry plan Thursday in Chicago
 

"The president is free to dispute, of course, whatever he wants," Hyde said. "But by agreeing to those facts that he does not dispute, he will allow us to narrow the issues and bring this matter to a close more quickly."

The Judiciary Committee's written interrogatory ends with a 10th page -- an affidavit the president is asked to sign to swear, under penalty of perjury, that his answers are true, CNN has learned.

White House special counsel Gregory Craig told CNN the White House is reviewing the letter and will answer it as soon as possible. "We are going to answer the letter in due time, as expeditiously as possible," Craig said. He said he could not commit to a specific timetable because the White House just received the letter Thursday afternoon.

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The House Judiciary Committee must decide whether Clinton committed perjury or obstructed justice in trying to conceal his sexual relationship with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

Questions for cover broad scope

The questions asked by the Judiciary Committee are broad, starting with: "Do you acknowledge or deny that you are the chief law enforcement officer of the United States?"

Several sources familiar with the letter say it poses several risky questions to the president about his previous sworn accounts about his relationship with Lewinsky, including whether he accepts or contests her descriptions before the grand jury of the scope of their relationship.

Question 41, the sources say, asks the president whether he gave Lewinsky certain gifts, including a hat pin.

Question 55, they say, asks the president to confirm that on January 19 -- two days after his sworn testimony in the Paula Jones case -- he called Oval Office secretary Betty Currie at home to discuss his relationship with Lewinsky.

Sources say the questions also include whether Clinton had any role in hiring private investigators to look into the lives of central figures in the investigation.

Starr will be only 'major' witness

Starr
Starr  

Hyde denied that the streamlined witness list was a result of the loss of Republican House seats in Tuesday's election, explaining "the most relevant witnesses have already testified at length about the matters in issue."

Hyde reserved the right to call anyone else before the panel as needed.

Clinton responded Thursday to reports of Starr's testimony, saying only, "I want these hearings to be constitutional, fair and expeditious. And at the appropriate time, in the appropriate way, we will say whatever we intend to say."

House Judicary Committee Republicans had previously talked of calling perhaps a half dozen witnesses, including Currie, presidential confidant Bruce Lindsey and Washington lobbyist Vernon Jordan.

Starr said Thursday morning he "would try to help Congress in any way we can." Asked if he would be disappointed if Clinton is not impeached, Starr said, "Oh, no. My job is just to get ... It's Congress