Report Says Lott Agrees to Deal Allowing for Short Trial, Then Censure

Article excerpt

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott yesterday surprised fellow Republicans in both houses of Congress as a report circulated of a plan with his Democratic counterpart for a short impeachment trial with no witnesses, followed by a vote of censure.

"If it's true, I am livid," an aide to a senior Republican senator said.

"I can tell you my boss won't be very happy," said the aide, who asked not to be identified. "He has said the Constitution provides only for a trial and vote on removing the president, not for censure."

Under the plan first reported by cable network MSNBC, the trial would begin Jan. 11 and last one or two weeks, with an up or down vote on whether to remove President Clinton from office.

If the Senate failed to muster the 67 votes to convict the president of the impeachment articles voted by the House, the Senate would move immediately to consider a resolution censuring the president's behavior, according to a story posted on the network's Web page yesterday.

Neither Mr. Lott nor any of his aides could be reached for confirmation of the story. Another GOP Senate aide who had met with Mr. Lott's top lieutenant earlier yesterday said he was completely surprised by the story. He said virtually none of the details had been told to him by the Lott aide.

An aide to the Republican chairman of a House committee indicated he was "shocked" on hearing a reporter tell him of the plan late yesterday afternoon.

The aide said neither he nor his boss had heard about the deal between Mr. …