Friday, January 8, 1999 Published at 07:13 GMT
Senators seek common ground
The calling of witnesses remains the main stumbling block
Senators are working hard to prevent America's first presidential impeachment trial since 1868 from becoming bogged down in party politics.
The opening formalities were completed on Thursday with the swearing in of the Chief Justice William Rehnquist as the presiding official and of the senators as the jury.
Republican majority leader Trent Lott said senators should "keep calm and cool and dignified".
His move prompted his Democrat counterpart Tom Daschle to proclaim: "I think there is some common ground."
"We don't want the first vote to be a partisan vote, and it came very close to being one," said Republican Sen. Sam Brownback.
The house prosecutors, or managers, have joined Republican Senators to press for live testimony at the trial.
The parade of witnesses could include the former White House worker, Monica Lewinsky, whose affair with President Clinton led to the impeachment charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.
The Democrats, supported by the White House, have resisted and want the whole procedure wrapped up as quickly as possible.
Mr Lott said: "Senator Daschle and I are not dictators. We are leaders that are getting some latitude by our conferences and our caucasus but we have to bring along 98 other Senators."
The plan by Senate Democrats would also give each side time to present their cases but would not allow for witnesses.
Our correspondent says that if there is no compromise, the Republicans might enforce their proposal through their majority in the upper chamber.
The White House said opening the trial without clear rules on how to proceed was "manifestly unfair" to President Clinton.
"We may be in a situation where we do move forward without clear rules of the road," White House spokesman Joe Lockhart said.
"I would suggest that that would be a situation, an environment, that is manifestly unfair to the president."
The White House has confirmed that if the Senate decides to call witnesses in the trial, it would move to delay the proceedings.