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House Hearing Set on Impeachment History

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  • By Guy Gugliotta
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Saturday, October 24, 1998; Page A7

    A House Judiciary subcommittee yesterday agreed to hold a hearing on the history of impeachment in early November in an apparent effort to mollify the White House and committee Democrats demanding that impeachable conduct be defined before a formal inquiry can begin.

    The subcommittee on the Constitution said in a notice sent to all Judiciary members at dusk that the hearing, originally scheduled for Oct. 22, would occur Nov. 9, six days after midterm elections, Judiciary Committee spokesman Paul McNulty said.

    Committee Democrats have carried on a running argument with Republicans for weeks over the need to determine what constitutes an impeachable offense before proceeding to a formal inquiry against President Clinton for his conduct with former White House intern Monica S. Lewinsky.

    Republicans argued that the inquiry could proceed while committee members made their own judgments about the impeachability of the alleged offenses. Nevertheless, constitutional subcommittee Chairman Charles T. Canady (R-Fla.) set Oct. 22 for an informational hearing on the history of impeachment, but it was later canceled.

    On Wednesday, the White House sent a letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry J. Hyde (R-Ill.) and the ranking minority member, Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), urging the panel to convene a hearing the week of Nov. 9 to analyze what the Constitution meant by "high crimes and misdemeanors."

    "The process will not be full and fair if such evidence is not included in the record," the White House letter said.

    Yesterday's one-line announcement apparently was intended to salve Democrat demands, but Democratic sources noted that under Watergate standards being followed by the Republicans, the Clinton administration could be excluded from any subcommittee level hearing.

    Also, the sources said, the announcement made no mention of establishing a standard of impeachment but instead appeared to commit the subcommittee merely to study impeachment through history.

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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