Tuesday, January 19, 1999 Published at 22:57 GMT
Defence team makes heartfelt plea
Charles Ruff: Submission climaxed with impassioned plea
The defence team in Bill Clinton's impeachment trial finished its first day of submissions with an impassioned plea to save the president.
White House Counsel Charles Ruff closed the first day of defence proceedings with a call for senators to step back from the "horrific" option of ousting Mr Clinton from office. His appeal came only hours before Mr Clinton was due to make his annual State of the Union speech.
"William Jefferson Clinton is not guilty of the charges," Mr Ruff stated, in front of the 100 gathered senators who will act as the president's jury.
But in his closing remarks, Mr Ruff appealed to members' emotions.
"We are here to defend William Clinton, the President of the United States, for whom you are the only judges."
He impressed upon senators the magnitude of their task.
As he spoke, the president will have been busy preparing for his annual speech to both houses of Congress, which sets out his policy plans for the coming year. The televised address will begin at 0200 GMT.
The White House said he would not mention the trial in his address.
On the fourth day of the historic trial, Mr Ruff made plain that his team would defend the president to the hilt.
He said the case against Mr Clinton would not stand up in a "court anywhere" and claimed the 13-strong prosecution team had been "convinced by their own rhetoric".
He saw "no basis on which the Senate can or should convict the president on any of the charges," said the veteran Washington lawyer from his wheelchair.
He went on to rebuff Republican demands for witnesses to be called to the trial.
But the issue of witnesses remains a thorny one, which threatens to split the two-party Senate.
The relatively bipartisan atmosphere in the upper house is under increasing strain as Republicans press the case for calling trial witnesses, which could include Ms Lewinsky and the president.
Democrats remain fiercely opposed but with only 45 members out of the total 100, they are likely to be outvoted on the issue, which requires only a simple majority to be passed.
Many senators were surprised by the case put by the Republican prosecution team, which was perceived to be highly persuasive. They spent 16 hours over three days detailing their arguments.
Clinton strengthens team
White House spokesman Joe Lockhart said Democrats have bolstered their defence team, in what is thought to be a direct response.
Mr Lockhart said some Democratic members of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee will join the team.
They will be given 24 hours in total - though are expected to take less time - to set out their defence of Mr Clinton against charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.
Senators will then have 16 hours over two days to ask questions of both sides through Chief Justice William Rehnquist. They will then be given the chance to vote to dismiss proceedings or carry on with a full trial.