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House managers plan strategy for Senate trial

December 29, 1998
Web posted at: 3:58 p.m. EST (2058 GMT)

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, December 29) -- As planning for a Senate trial begins, the House managers, who will serve as prosecutors of the case, met Tuesday to plan their strategy for presenting the impeachment case against President Bill Clinton to the senators.

Key questions about the all-but-certain trial are still unresolved, including when the trial would begin and whether any witnesses would be called.

The trial is expected to be called to order sometime in early January but may not proceed immediately after that opening formality.

mccollum
Rep. Bill McCollum  

There was some dispute amongst the managers over calling witnesses, like Monica Lewinsky. Many of them want to hear from the fact witnesses while others prefer to just submit the evidence referred to Congress by Independent Counsel Ken Starr.

Following the meeting Rep. Bill McCollum (R-Florida), one of the 13 House managers who are all Republicans on the Judiciary Committee, predicted that witnesses would be called.

"I would anticipate that if the Senate would allow us to present a trial, which I hope they would do ... that there would be indeed witnesses presented" to prove the case, McCollum said.

Decisions on Senate trial procedures will not be made by the managers but instead by the senators, and are not likely to be finalized until the Senate returns to work next week.

chafee
Sen. John Chafee  

" We've done our job. Our job now is to go over to the Senate. We'll do our job there and we will abide by their rules," Rep. James Rogan (R-California) said.

But even before the senators have returned to Washington, Senate Democrats have been approaching some Republicans to gauge support for censure. Possible targets include GOP moderates like Sens. John Chafee of Rhode Island, Jim Jeffords of Vermont and Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine.

But Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Mississippi) had some discouraging words for those efforts, saying in a news interview Monday that the believes the Senate has a responsibility to hear all of the evidence before anybody considers cutting the trial short for a censure deal or some other alternative punishment of Clinton.

Urging his Democratic colleagues to "calm down" and not push for censure, Lott told the Los Angeles Times, "We need to go forward and do our constitutional duty to hear the evidence."

lott
Senate Majority Leader
Trent Lott
 

Though many Democrats favor censuring the president rather than removing him from office, key Senate Republicans have said an alternative should be considered only after a speedy impeachment trial, and perhaps only after a vote on whether to remove the president from office.

Conservative Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas) says a censure resolution would be "both superfluous and a poor precedent". In a written statement Tuesday, Gramm said censure "pales" next to the historical weight of the impeachment resolutions already voted by the House.

The 13 House managers are Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde (Illinois) and Reps. James Sensenbrenner (Wisconsin), McCollum, George Gekas (Pennsylvania), Charles Canady (Florida), Steve Buyer (Indiana), Ed Bryant (Tennessee), Steve Chabot (Ohio), Bob Barr (Georgia), Asa Hutchinson (Arkansas), Chris Cannon (Utah), Rogan and Lindsey Graham (South Carolina).

CNN's John King and Candy Crowley contributed to this report.

Investigating the President

MORE STORIES:

Tuesday, December 29, 1998

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