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Sen. Orrin Hatch (Reuters)


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Hatch Warns Clinton
On Testimony

By Jim Wolf
Monday, July 13, 1998; Page A04

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) said yesterday that any refusal by President Clinton to testify about his ties with Monica S. Lewinsky could constitute an impeachable offense.

Hatch said independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr should indict Lewinsky, a former White House intern, if he cannot get her testimony voluntarily and should name Clinton as an "unindicted co-conspirator if that's what it comes down to."

"The story I get is that the reason why [Starr is] pursuing the Lewinsky matter is because he has other evidence and other indications that she doesn't want to tell the full truth on it," he said, referring to Lewinsky's allegation of having a sexual relationship with Clinton in secretly recorded conversations with Linda R. Tripp.

Starr has been investigating, as an add-on to the Whitewater real estate tangle, whether Clinton had an affair with Lewinsky and encouraged her to lie about it. Clinton and Lewinsky have denied the allegations.

Speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press," Hatch said he was "not necessarily" opposed to the start of the impeachment process in the House of Representatives if Clinton defied a subpoena to testify in the criminal investigation.

Once subpoenaed, "if he doesn't come in . . . tell the truth about what has happened, then I think that's a very serious problem," Hatch said.

He added that he favored being "very, very tight" on what constitutes grounds for impeachment, the start of a process that could -- but seems highly unlikely to at this point -- lead to Clinton's removal from office.

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who appeared alongside Hatch, suggested that this meant Hatch did not think defiance of a subpoena would be enough to justify impeachment.

"Not necessarily, not necessarily," the Utah lawmaker replied.

Starr's aides have said he is considering whether to compel Clinton's testimony on the matter, something Hatch said Clinton should offer voluntarily.

White House political adviser Rahm Emanuel, appearing on CBS's "Face the Nation," left open whether Clinton would comply with any subpoena. He said the matter was being handled by Clinton's personal lawyer, David Kendall. In a telephone interview, Kendall declined to comment.

Lawyers for Tripp said they anticipate that she will testify to the grand jury for at least another week. Tripp will give the longest testimony so far to the grand jury, which has spent 24 weeks reviewing perjury and obstruction-of-justice allegations concerning Clinton and Lewinsky.

Anthony Zaccagnini, one of Tripp's lawyers, declined to "discount" the possibility that she might write a book about the matter later, but said on NBC she was not currently involved in such a project.

On another issue, Hatch called on the Justice and Treasury departments to not appeal a new court ruling rejecting the Secret Service's attempt to block its officers from testifying in the Lewinsky investigation.

He said he planned to hold hearings in the Judiciary Committee next year to craft legislation that would suit any need for a new legal privilege shielding the president's bodyguards from having to testify about what they observe while on duty.

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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