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Davis Supports Move To Impeach Clinton

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  • By Spencer S. Hsu and Scott Wilson
    Washington Post Staff Writers
    Thursday, December 17, 1998; Page A40

    Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.) will vote to impeach President Clinton on two articles of perjury and is still weighing how to vote on two other impeachment articles, a source said yesterday.

    Davis, adding his name to the swelling ranks of House Republicans who want to oust the president, "will support the two articles based on perjury," the source said.

    The Fairfax County lawmaker initially planned to announce his position yesterday.

    But with the launch of a U.S. air assault on Iraq, his office held back on issuing any statement while soldiers were being put "in harm's way," said spokesman Trey Hardin, adding that he expects Davis to make a formal statement soon.

    The two perjury articles accuse President Clinton of lying under oath when he said he had never had a sexual relationship with former White House intern Monica S. Lewinsky.

    Davis, who has been reviewing the full House Judiciary Committee report, is still undecided about how to vote on impeachment articles that accuse the president of abusing his office and obstructing justice.

    As the impeachment effort took a temporary back seat to unfolding events in the Persian Gulf, the region's other prominent GOP fence-sitter, Rep. Constance A. Morella (R-Md.), continued to maintain her silence.

    "Her duty is to do her job," said Morella's chief of staff, Bill Miller. "She is keeping her own counsel."

    The Montgomery County lawmaker considered but dropped the idea of discussing her position ahead of time, Miller said. She will not announce her vote until she delivers it.

    In Rockville yesterday, a group of pro-Clinton demonstrators picketed outside Morella's district office, hoping to sway one of the last few Republicans who might be able to stave off an increasingly likely Senate trial.

    Chanting "Keep your job!" and "Free Bill Clinton!" the protesters marched on the sidewalk seven stories below Morella's local office.

    "We are here to tell her we want her to vote no, get the country back on track, and get back to business," said Jessica Brown, spokeswoman for the liberal People for the American Way, which organized the demonstration.

    Like actors tossed into an unfinished, unimaginable drama, local lawmakers struggled to perform despite a fog of uncertainty surrounding the bombing of Baghdad. Aides lurched ahead in fits and starts, eyes glued to CNN.

    When it was reported shortly after 1 p.m. that House leaders might delay the floor debate on impeachment that was supposed to begin this morning, Miller took a break from drafting a voting statement for Morella. Her speech wasn't going to be needed quite yet.

    Later, when Rep. Sherwood L. Boehlert (R-N.Y.), a fellow moderate, stunned Clinton defenders and declared in a television interview that he would vote to impeach, members of Morella's staff gasped.

    As GOP lawmakers one by one announced their intentions to send impeachment articles to the Senate, constituents from Morella's heavily Democratic district filed steadily through her House office, dropping off letters or filling out forms that expressed their views about how they want her to vote.

    "I tried to reach her by phone, but all the lines are busy." said Patricia O'Rourke, 56, a health association editor from Chevy Chase. "You can't get through at all, so I wanted to make sure I registered my vote against impeachment."

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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