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Friday, October 2, 1998 Published at 20:48 GMT 21:48 UK


Democrats demand impeachment deadline

Clinton: Republicans want Watergate style impeachment inquiry

The Democrats are calling for a deadline in any Clinton impeachment inquiry as the final batch of evidence from the White House sex-and-perjury scandal is released.

They want a narrowly-focused inquiry limited to the Monica Lewinsky affair which would be wrapped up by 25 November.

Democratic Representative John Conyers warned: "Without a date certain, this proceeding could turn into a year long, two years, politicised fishing expedition of enormous expense.''

And Democrat Maxine Waters accused Republicans of trying "to blow up and keep the scandal alive ... dragging it out to the year 2000 to affect the presidential race".


[ image: Conyers: ''politicised fishing expedition'']
Conyers: ''politicised fishing expedition''
The judiciary committee meets on Monday to consider launching the first formal impeachment inquiry against a president since the 1974 investigation of President Richard Nixon's Watergate scandal.

Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr says Mr Clinton's efforts to hide his liaisons with former White House intern Ms Lewinsky led to 11 impeachable charges including perjury.

But the Republicans, who hold a majority on the judiciary committee, are unlikely to agree to the Democrats' calls for a deadline.

Committee Chairman Henry Hyde has proposed an inquiry that allows a broad open-ended investigation.

The Republicans say they should also be free to pursue areas of inquiry aside from the Lewinsky affair.

These could include campaign finance abuses or the Whitewater controversy.

Democrats want censure option

But the Democrats say the inquiry should be limited to the Lewinsky affair.

They are also calling for the committee to decide in advance what it considers impeachable offences.

That would be followed by a decision on whether Mr Starr's allegations meet that standard.

The committee would begin any formal inquiry by 26 October and conclude it within a month.

The Democrats' proposal also provides the option of censuring Mr Clinton for misconduct in the scandal.

If the inquiry is approved on Monday, the judiciary committee will hold hearings to question the key people named in Mr Starr's report.

Mr Clinton's attorneys will also be able to attend the hearings and cross-examine the witnesses.

The 4,600 pages of evidence released on Friday included transcripts of secretly-taped phone calls between Ms Lewinsky and her former confidante Linda Tripp.

The Grand Jury testimony by Oval Office secretary Betty Currie and Mr Clinton's friend Vernon Jordan were also made public.





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