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Clinton repeats call for post-impeachment healing

But Starr's grand juries go back to work this week

February 15, 1999
Web posted at: 5:50 p.m. EST (2250 GMT)

MERIDA, Mexico (AllPolitics, February 15) -- President Bill Clinton, on a state visit to Mexico, repeated his call for reconciliation and renewal Monday in the wake of last week's Senate vote to acquit him of perjury and obstruction of justice charges.

Clinton made his comments to reporters during his meeting with Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo in Hacienda Temozon, Mexico, when Clinton was asked if he felt vindicated by the Senate vote.

Impeachment

"I think what we have to do is serve the American people," Clinton said. "If we keep that in mind everything, will be all right." Clinton added that cooperation is necessary to repair the Social Security system and maintain a strong economy.

Clinton also was questioned about reports his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, may run in 2000 for the New York Senate seat of retiring Democrat Daniel Patrick Moynihan. "I think she'd be terrific in the Senate, but that's a decision she will have to make," Clinton said.

Independent Counsel Ken Starr's grand juries will be back at work this week, despite Clinton's desire to move on and a call from many Washington lawmakers from both parties for Starr to wind up his investigation.

One grand jury, known as 97-2, which heard evidence in the Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal, is scheduled to meet Tuesday and Thursday, according to U.S. District Court officials.

The 23-member panel of Washington, D.C., residents was dormant as the Senate impeachment trial played out on Capitol Hill. The jury heard testimony from Clinton, Lewinsky, presidential friend Vernon Jordan and other key figures in the investigation.

A separate grand jury, known as 97-4, which heard secret evidence from Starr during the weeks Congress grappled with the issue, is scheduled to meet Wednesday and Friday.

If Clinton is trying to move past impeachment, so are Republicans, with the first in a series of town meetings Monday in Warren, Michigan, to focus on the GOP's policy agenda, including proposed tax cuts.

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, pushing the tax cut, asked the crowd if they wanted government to spend the federal surplus, "or would you like for it to be returned back to the people?"

As Starr moves forward, many lawmakers say Starr should not indict Clinton on criminal charges growing out of the Lewinsky probe. After a 21-day trial, the Senate voted Friday to acquit Clinton on two articles of impeachment alleging perjury and obstruction of justice.

Media reports which quote unnamed "Starr associates" have suggested the independent counsel may have come to the conclusion that he could indict Clinton for wrongdoing while he is in or out of office. While Starr has announced no decisions on that, the prospect is not being welcomed.

"Move on; I mean, I've had enough of everything, but particularly Kenneth Starr," Moynihan said Sunday on NBC's "Meet The Press."

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) said it's over and time to move on.

"I think indicting the president would not be a great idea, but clearly that's something in the Congress that we can't control," McConnell said on CNN's "Late Edition."

McConnell said Congress should "absolutely not" renew the independent counsel statute.

"I was one of the 21 people who voted against extending it in 1993. I agree with Ken Starr, interestingly enough, that the independent counsel statute is bad policy," said McConnell.

"I don't want it to be amended. I want it to be ended," McConnell said.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-New Jersey) said Starr had already "overreached significantly."

"When I hear people as respectable as Mitch McConnell, as Henry Hyde, even though we differ on our opinions, saying, 'Well, enough is enough; let's get on with the business of the people,' it tells me that everybody has had a chance to do a little insight, a little review of that and said, 'Ok, that was an experience and we do not want to replicate, duplicate that in any way for the future,' " Lautenberg said on "Late Edition."

Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) said there is an "overwhelming desire on the part of the American people and the Congress" to move on.

"I can't pretend to tell Mr. Starr what his legal options are, but from a pure political standpoint, it's time to move on," McCain said on "Meet The Press." "And I think that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle share that view."

CNN's Carol Cratty, John King, Bob Franken and Ted Barrett contributed to this report.


Investigating the President

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Monday, February 15, 1999

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