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Senate must decide on live testimony

Impeachment trial resumes Thursday

February 3, 1999
Web posted at: 5:43 p.m. EST (2243 GMT)

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, February 3) -- When President Bill Clinton's impeachment trial resumes Thursday, senators must decide whether to call Monica Lewinsky, Vernon Jordan and Sidney Blumenthal to testify in person, or move ahead based on what the senators have gleaned from the public record and this week's closed-door depositions.

Hyde
Rep. Henry Hyde  

House prosecutors, led by Rep. Henry Hyde, want Lewinsky, Jordan and Blumenthal to testify. But some senators who have reviewed Lewinsky's videotaped deposition say they see no need for live testimony from her.

The impeachment trial is set to get under way again at 1 p.m. EST, after a one-week break. Last week, senators approved a schedule for taking more testimony from Lewinsky, Jordan and Blumenthal, and then recessed. Thursday will be Day 15 of the proceedings, with the Senate still trying to move to a final vote by February 12.

The other issue before the senators will be whether to make public the latest testimony of Lewinsky, Jordan and Blumenthal -- either transcripts or the videotapes themselves.

Beyond these questions, senators are still looking for a way to bring the trial to a conclusion. It would take 67 votes to convict and remove Clinton, and based on a January 28 vote in which 44 senators voted to dismiss the charges, most senators appear convinced the Senate never will vote to throw Clinton out of office.

blumenthal
Sidney Blumenthal  

Still, senators from both parties say they are troubled by Clinton's behavior in the Lewinsky affair, and fear that the Clinton White House would seize on an acquittal as a complete exoneration -- and reason to celebrate.

Spurred by that, senators are discussing at least two alternatives to a simple acquittal of Clinton on the perjury and obstruction of justice charges.

First, the Senate could vote to adjourn the trial and approve a sharply worded statement of Clinton's misdeeds, a proposal touted by Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah as "adjournment-plus."

Hatch, interviewed Wednesday on CNN's "Early Edition," said the statement would say that Clinton lied under oath and obstructed justice.

"So my suggestion is, rather than allow him to go out claiming an exoneration, adjourn with findings that basically say that he lied under oath, he committed obstruction of justice and recognize the House vote on impeachment as the highest form of condemnation under the circumstances," Hatch said.

Jordan
Vernon Jordan  

Second, the Senate could approve so-called "findings of fact" that outline Clinton's misdeeds, then move to a vote on the two articles of impeachment.

Senate Republicans have drafted two versions of a formal declaration that says Clinton "willfully provided false and misleading testimony" to a grand jury last summer, according to congressional sources.

One of the documents that Republicans are laboring over also says Clinton engaged in a course of conduct designed to "alter, delay, impede, cover up and conceal the existence of evidence and testimony" in the sexual harassment lawsuit that Paula Jones filed against him.

The White House has dismissed the "findings of fact" idea, saying the only options available to the Senate are to convict or acquit.

Democratic officials want any censure of Clinton to occur outside the trial. Republicans want it voted on as part of the proceedings, in part to blunt any claims by the White House that the entire impeachment proceedings were a partisan effort by Republicans.

Republicans met behind closed doors Wednesday afternoon to discuss the alternatives.


Investigating the President

MORE STORIES:

Wednesday, February 3, 1999

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