Wednesday, January 20, 1999

GOP collecting, editing queries

Hearst Newspapers

President on trial
Latest updates from Associated Press
        WASHINGTON — Republican leaders were collecting and editing written questions from their colleagues Tuesday so that the queries can be posed later this week by Chief Justice William Rehnquist at President Clinton's impeachment trial.

        The Senate has set aside 16 hours starting Friday to question the House prosecutors and Clinton defense team. The questions will provide a window into the thoughts of the 100 senators who have silently crouched over their wooden desks as both sides have presented their cases.

        Senators are asked to write out their questions on printed forms. The forms then will be time-stamped and handed to Senate parliamentarian Bob Dove, who will give them in order to Justice Rehnquist. The chief justice then will pose the question to the appropriate party, either a particular Clinton defense lawyer or one of the 13 House prosecutors, or to one legal team or the other.

        Republican Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., has asked Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, along with Sens. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, and Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., to coordinate questions from Republican senators to avoid repetition. Mr. Hatch said he has received 20 to 25 questions so far and has created a computer database to collect them.

        Mr. Thompson said Republican senators and staffers are meeting every day to sort through the questions.

        “We're inviting questions from everyone,” Mr. Thompson said. However, in the end, it may not be as orderly as planned, Mr. Thompson said. “After all, we can make recommendations, but members can do what they want,” he said.

        Ranit Schmelzer, spokeswoman for Senate Democratic Leader Thomas A. Daschle, D- S.D., said the Democratic senators are pursuing a less-organized approach to the questions.

        Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, said her questions are likely to concern obstruction of justice, adding that she sees conflicts in the testimony of former White House intern Monica Lewinsky and Clinton's secretary Betty Currie. Ms. Hutchison said she hopes the senators will follow the trend established by House prosecutors and be brief.


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- GOP collecting, editing queries
Clinton Under Fire page