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Thursday, October 15, 1998 Published at 07:41 GMT 08:41 UK


Clinton inquiry 'streamlined'

Henry Hyde: narrowing focus

The impeachment inquiry against President Bill Clinton will be given a tighter focus, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee has said.

Republican Henry Hyde said the committee would concentrate "on the core charges against the president" in order for its investigation to be completed by the self-imposed year-end deadline.

Mr Hyde, who is heading the inquiry, said it would focus on whether the president lied under oath, tampered with witnesses or obstructed justice.

A "streamlined" inquiry would mean the committee could vote on whether to recommend articles of impeachment by mid-December, with any trial of the president taking place in the spring.

The three broad categories would encompass most of the 15 specific counts recommended last Monday by David Schippers, the committee's chief investigator.

Mr Hyde denied that any charges against the president were actually being dropped.

But Democrats suggested Mr Hyde was reacting to public opinion polls which suggest increasing discomfort with what is seen as an over-zealous campaign by the Republicans to smear the presidency with as many charges as will stick.

Senior Republicans had been seeking a wide ranging investigation to disgrace Mr Clinton with lurid details of his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky as well as allegations of financial irregularities.

Mr Hyde said he did not expect to expand his inquiry into other possible impeachment offences allegedly committed by the president.

These include the Whitewater real estate deal in Arkansas, campaign finance abuses, the firing of White House travel office staff members or any other allegations not related to the Lewinsky affair.

"We need to narrow the charges down," said Mr Hyde. "I frankly don't see how we can deal with all 15 charges adequately.

"We're not dropping anything at this stage. I'm not saying we won't ultimately, but we're not there yet," he said.

Jim Jordan, spokesman for the judiciary committee's Democrat members said Mr Hyde's suggestion that he could limit the inquiry was "a commendably honest admission of the insubstantiality of the evidence."



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