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.
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.
"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.
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.
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' judgment."
Although there are widespread reports that the Democrats' better-than-expected election showing would result in some lesser negotiated reprimand of the president, Hyde said it is his duty to proceed with the hearings and censure discussions would be "premature."
"There are always appealing voices of convenience and comfort to call on us to look away. It would be easy," Hyde said. "We could just look away from this awful mess and let it disappear. But our duty demands that we look further."
Hyde disputed reports that the inquiry might be finished by Thanksgiving, but said the committee was on track to finish by his self-imposed, end-of-the-year deadline.
Democrats primarily have sought an appearance by the independent counsel so they can bring up the prosecutor's conduct as well as the president's affair.
Hyde said he didn't believe the Republican-led impeachment inquiry of Clinton was much of a factor in the midterm election results. When asked what he thought the voters' message on the investigation, Hyde said, "I don't think they sent us much about the impeachment proceeding. I had thought it would be a referendum. It really wasn't.
"The data I've read, impeachment was about sixth in the hierarchy of concerns people had ... We won some; we lost some, a kind of a mixed bag, but no significant impact on impeachment in my judgment."
Impeachment hearings are scheduled to begin at the same time House Republicans will be deciding who will lead them in the next GOP-controlled Congress. Hyde told committee Republicans that if any House leadership changes result from the GOP's surprising midterm election losses, the shakeup would not affect his impeachment timetable, committee officials said.
The Judiciary Constitution Subcommittee will examine the history of impeachment Monday, in what is expected to be a lengthy session with 19 witnesses scheduled to present their views on the process.
CNN's John King and Charles Bierbauer contributed to this report.
Thursday, November 5, 1998
Speaker reaching out to members to gauge dissatisfaction
Clinton-Jones settlement talks break off
Clinton asked to 'admit or deny' Starr report facts
Clinton turns to health care bill
Clinton-Gore contributor indicted
Measure to boost California's cigarette tax still undecided
Democrat Wu wins last undecided House race
Ex-baseball player Hrbek turned down Ventura offer
Texas Gov. Bush stays mum on presidential run
Voter turnout was about 37 percent
Moseley-Braun won't run again