Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

More Lawmakers Seeking Impeachment Escape Hatch Hearings Rev Up This Week, but Clinton May Have Upper Hand in Election Aftermath

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

More Lawmakers Seeking Impeachment Escape Hatch Hearings Rev Up This Week, but Clinton May Have Upper Hand in Election Aftermath

Article excerpt

Where's the off switch to the impeachment machine?

That's what lawmakers and the White House are asking as the process grinds on - even though most Americans, evidently, believe it should end quickly.

Since the midterm election, fewer and fewer people in Washington - including Republicans - have much of an appetite for removing President Clinton from office, even if he did lie under oath about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. But how can Republicans who just a month ago said perjury was grounds for impeachment now turn around and say it doesn't meet the test? "They've started this machine, and they're going to have to find some way to stop it without losing face - that's the challenge," says Michael Gerhardt, a law professor at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, and author of a book on impeachment. Mr. Gerhardt was one of 19 historians, constitutional scholars, and former Justice Department officials scheduled to testify yesterday about the historical context of impeachment. Also this week, Mr. Clinton is expected to respond to a questionnaire sent him by House Judiciary Committee chairman Henry Hyde (R) of Illinois. THE impeachment inquiry itself, however, may be affected by the fluidity surrounding the leadership upheaval in the House. Already, the lead contender for the post of House Speaker, Rep. Robert Livingston (R) of Louisiana, has acknowledged that Americans don't want the president to be impeached. But speaking on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday, Mr. Livingston went on to say that, while public opinion "would have to be considered," Congress "cannot simply disregard the fact that there are other people in our society ... who have been likewise charged and have lost their jobs." Just how could Congress exit from the impeachment highway? The most expeditious path is for the Judiciary Committee to simply vote down articles of impeachment, say legal and political observers. …

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