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CNN survey: Nearly half of senators offer views on censure

By Caroline Nolan and Dana Bash/CNN

January 7, 1999
Web posted at: 5:05 p.m. EST (2205 GMT)

WASHINGTON (January 7) -- A CNN survey of all 100 U.S. senators finds at least 29 would support some form of censure of President Bill Clinton or are leaning in that direction, while 19 are opposed to censure or leaning that way.

The remaining senators either offered no opinion on censure or would not make any public comment on the Senate trial, which began Thursday. Clinton faces allegations of perjury and obstruction of justice in the Monica Lewinsky affair.

CNN reached the offices of all senators to gauge their views on issues surrounding Clinton's impeachment trial, including whether the Senate should call witnesses to testify.

Few would be pinned down on specifics, saying they respect their oaths of impartiality and wanted to wait until the details and scope of the trial are worked out.

Twenty-two senators -- 17 Republicans and five Democrats -- would not offer public comment at all. Aides to some senators said their lawmakers have kept much of their views to themselves.

On the issue of whether to call witnesses, about half the senators responded. Of those, most fell along party lines -- Democrats opposing the calling of witnesses and Republicans saying witnesses were an important element in the trial. A handful on either side, however, did break with their parties.

An aide to Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Alabama), for instance, said he felt if both sides could agree to what evidence should be presented, there would be no need for witnesses. The aide added that Shelby might oppose calling witnesses even if the House managers -- the House members who are serving as prosecutors -- were to push for it.

And an aide to Sen. Max Cleland (D-Georgia) said the senator would not object to calling witnesses to "fulfill a constitutional obligation."


Investigating the President

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