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Thursday, September 10, 1998 Published at 05:51 GMT 06:51 UK


World: Americas

Clinton contrite as Congress gets report

The Starr attraction: Boxes of evidence arrive at Congress


The BBC's Stephen Sackur: "The President is fighting for his political life"
The official report on President Clinton's relationship with the former White House worker, Monica Lewinsky, has been received by Congress, as he made further public apologies for his conduct.

The report, accompanied by dozens of boxes of evidence, arrived amid heavy security and was transferred to a secure room.


[ image: Kenneth Starr:
Kenneth Starr: "Four-year investigation over"
A spokesman for the independent prosecutor Kenneth Starr, who compiled the report, said it contained information which may constitute grounds for impeaching the president. He gave no details.

But the president's lawyer, David Kendall, reacted immediately by saying there was no basis for impeachment.


President Clinton's lawyer, David Kendall: "No basis for impeachment"
The Republican head of the House of Representatives judiciary committee which will lead the inquiry, Henry Hyde, said there would only be an impeachment investigation if it was justified by the evidence. He said he would not allow a political witch-hunt.

The delivery of the special prosecutor's report means that the House of Representatives could be debating the political future of the beleaguered president within days.

In the hands of the politicians


"Information that may constitute grounds for impeachment": Kenneth Starr's spokesman, Charles Bakaly
The final dossier, said to run to 500 pages, is believed to include around 100 pages detailing charges against the president of potentially impeachable offences.

Kenneth Starr's spokesman Charles Bakaly said that the matter was now in the hands of the politicians.

"The office (of Kenneth Starr) has fulfilled its duty under the law," he said. "The responsibility for the information and any future action lies with Congress as laid out in the constitution."

Newt Gingrich, speaker of the House of Representatives, said that the House could vote on how to handle the report as early as Friday.

'Deep sorrow'


President Clinton: "I've tried to do a good job taking care of this country"
Mr Clinton, meanwhile, made two public apologies on Wednesday for the Lewinsky scandal. "I let my family down and I let this country down, but I am trying to make it right," Clinton said at a fund-raising lunch in Orlando.

"I am determined never to let anything like that happen again."


[ image:
"I am trying to make it right," President Clinton told Democrats
In a later address, he said: "I have tried to do a good job taking care of this country even when I haven't taken such good care of myself, my family, my obligations.

"I hope that you and others that I have injured will forgive me for the mistakes I have made."

Non-partisan


[ image: Scandal: Protests follow the president]
Scandal: Protests follow the president
Henry Hyde, the Republican leader of the House Judiciary Committee, will brief Newt Gingrich, Republican majority leader Republican Dick Armey and minority Democrat leader Dick Gephardt on the report his committee is receiving.

Mr Gephardt said: "Next to declaring war, this may be the most important thing we do, so we have to do it right.

"We have to do it objectively, fairly and in a non-partisan way.

Mr Hyde added: "This is a lousy job but somebody has to do it. Nobody looks forward to this traumatic journey that we are embarking on."

Next steps

  • The House of Representatives votes to hand the report to the House Judiciary Committee, which has to decide on any impeachment proceedings.

  • The Committee will also consider how much of the report to make public. Republicans who hold the majority want the main document published as soon as possible, possibly on the Internet.

  • The Committee must decide whether sufficient grounds exist for a full impeachment inquiry, in other words whether President Clinton's conduct, as described by prosecutors, is covered by the term "high crimes and misdemeanors."

  • It can take depositions, issue subpoenas and conduct hearings and, if it decides a formal inquiry is warranted, it could seek a House vote to authorise it.

  • The House would then draw up articles of impeachment that the Senate would use during a trial to justify the president's removal from office. These would have to be approved by majority vote.




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