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Friday, February 5, 1999 Published at 02:55 GMT

Monica off the hook

Monica Lewinsky has given sworn evidence 23 times

Monica Lewinsky will not have to give live evidence in President Clinton's impeachment trial, US senators have decided.

The trial of the president
Instead, prosecutors will be allowed to show on the floor of the Senate "all or portions" of the evidence she gave on videotape.

The BBC's Clive Myrie in Washington: "She has become a household name"
Under growing pressure to bring the case to an early conclusion, senators rejected a last-ditch attempt to call Ms Lewinsky to testify on the floor of the Senate by a majority of 70 to 30. Twenty-five Republicans joined the Democrats in opposing the move.

A motion by the Democrats to move to final arguments and vote on the articles of impeachment was then defeated by 56 to 44 - a vote almost entirely along party lines.

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Mr Clinton's defence team had fought hard to prevent Ms Lewinsky being seen in any form, but White House spokesman Joe Lockhart said the vote rejecting live testimony indicated that senators appeared "ready to bring this trial to a conclusion".

Prosecutors had asked to question and cross-examine Ms Lewinsky for up to eight hours as if she were a hostile witness.

After voting not to call Ms Lewinsky, senators then voted to allow prosecution and defence lawyers to use the videotaped depositions in final arguments but not to allow White House lawyers prior knowledge of the clips being used by the prosecution.

Public pressure

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Correspondents say senators are increasingly concerned that they might further alienate public opinion, which is strongly in favour of bringing the trial to an early conclusion.

During the day's proceedings a member of the public sitting in the public gallery was arrested by Capitol police after standing up and shouting: "God almighty, take the vote and get it over with."

House prosecutor Bill McCollum: "You should at least let us have Monica Lewinsky"
As the trial reconvened earlier in the day, the House of Representatives trial managers, or prosecutors, dropped calls for the Senate to hear live testimony from the other two witnesses - Vernon Jordan and Sidney Blumenthal.

Both sides presented their cases for and against calling live witnesses and whether or not to admit previously recorded depositions into the body of evidence against the president.

Washington Correspondent Tom Carver: The Senate is very conscious of its image
Representative Ed Bryant, a Tennessee Republican, argued the case for calling Ms Lewisnky to testify.

"Her testimony is clearly tinted and some might even say tainted by a mixture of her continued admiration for the president, her desire to protect him, and her own personal views of right and wrong," he said.

But White House lawyer Gregory Craig dismissed the claims by the House managers, that live testimony witnesses would either "validate" or add to existing testimony.

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He argued that calling Ms Lewinsky, who has already given sworn testimony 23 times, would "simply be a massive waste of Senate time - there are no new bombshells".

Meanwhile, there appears to be a growing move to get the trial over with quickly, ideally by next Friday, and discussions continued about possible ways of reprimanding the President.

White House lawyer Gregory Craig: "An exercise in excess"
Some Republicans want a finding of fact, declaring that the president did do wrong, but falling well short of declaring him guilty of high crimes or misdemeanours warranting his removal from office. It would only require a simple majority to pass the Senate which the Republicans have.

But that idea is fading fast in the face of fierce opposition from Democrats who prefer a vote of censure instead.

One Republican Senator said the finding of fact motion was "in desperate need of life support" whilst the Senate Republican leader, Trent Lott, has referred it in the past tense.

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