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Wednesday, February 3, 1999 Published at 11:43 GMT

Hyde pushes for Lewinsky live

Monica Lewinsky leaves a Washington hotel after giving private evidence

The chief prosecutor in President Clinton's impeachment trial is pressing the case for live witnesses to testify before the Senate.

The trial of the president
"It is our intention to request live witnesses," said Republican Congressman Henry Hyde. "We think that's the highest and best evidence, and that will be our firm request."

He was speaking after House of Representatives prosecutors had taken testimony from the second of three witnesses - the president's friend Vernon Jordan.

The BBC's Stephen Sackur: "Mr Clinton is still riding high in the polls"
Mr Hyde said the private evidence of Vernon Jordan and of former White House intern Monica Lewinsky had "strengthened some points" of the prosecution case.

As prosecutors quizzed Mr Jordan, senators reviewed the tapes and transcripts of five hours of testimony from Ms Lewinsky.

[ image:  ]
It is not yet clear what kind of response Mr Hyde's request will get from the Senate. Democrats oppose any form of witness testimony and even majority Republicans are not of one mind.

Republican senator Orrin Hatch said he would like to see Ms Lewinsky testify in the Senate chamber.

"It's far better for the public to meet her and make up their own minds," said the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

But other Republicans said they saw no need to call Ms Lewinsky as a live witness.

Jordan gives little away

In his three hour interrogation, Vernon Jordan restated that President Clinton was behind his efforts to find Ms Lewinsky a job but that the effort was never designed to buy her silence, sources said.

[ image: Mr Jordan has denied the charges against him]
Mr Jordan has denied the charges against him
He is said to have acknowledged for the first time that the former intern called him to discuss her affidavit denying a sexual relationship with the president; he also conceded he probably had a breakfast meeting with her that House prosecutors have sought to establish.

He has been accused of coaching Ms Lewinsky to lie about her relationship with Mr Clinton.

The third witness

The videotaped deposition of White House aide Sidney Blumenthal will take place on Wednesday.

[ image: Sidney Blumenthal is a fierce partisan and friend of the president]
Sidney Blumenthal is a fierce partisan and friend of the president
Once all three depositions are taken and the Senate has seen the videotapes, senators will decide whether to call the witnesses to testify in person, whether to allow the prosecutors to call any more witnesses and whether to let the White House call witnesses.

Under a plan decided a week ago, the Senate aims to cast the final vote on the articles of impeachment on 12 February.

With the end of the trial possibly in sight, BBC Washington Correspondent Paul Reynolds says a twin-track process in Congress is now in play.

There is general agreement that President Clinton will not be removed from office, so aside from the formal trial, discussions continue about some kind of formal vote to condemn Mr Clinton.

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