A DECISION on whether to impeach Bill Clinton should be taken by the end of the year, the Republican who is running the Congressional investigation into the President said yesterday.
The House Judiciary Committee will vote today or tomorrow to begin hearings on the President, but it will take months to handle all of the allegations, said Henry Hyde, the committee's chairman.
The Democrats on the committee want the hearings to finish by Thanksgiving on 25 November, and to cover only the allegations in the Starr report. But the Republicans, hoping to drag things out, insist it will take much longer, and that other charges - relating to campaign financing and alleged interference with White House files - must be taken into account. After the Judiciary Committee votes, the decision must be ratified by the House of Representatives at the end of this week. Congress will then break up to prepare for elections on 3 November. The charges stemming from the Starr report will form the basis for the impeachment charges, according to weekend reports. But others relating to witness tampering and obstruction of justice may be added. But, in an important break for the President, it now looks likely that one important charge - abuse of his constitutional powers - will be dropped. And the case will centre on allegations that the President made false statements under oath, a lesser crime than perjury. Perjury means intentionally making false statements with an intention to mislead. It is likely that about 100 Democrats will join the Republicans in voting for impeachment hearings, making them a near-certainty. The Democrats are pushing for some solution short of impeachment, however, such as a Congressional reprimand. …