Second Hearing to Focus on Perjury Issue
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, November 24, 1998; Page A13
The House Judiciary Committee announced yesterday it will hold its second public hearing on whether President Clinton should be impeached, publicly debating "the consequences of perjury," as panel investigators took closed-door testimony yesterday from the attorney for former White House volunteer Kathleen E. Willey.
The Dec. 1 hearing, committee sources said, is likely to feature testimony from federal judges, individuals convicted of perjury and military personnel, who would talk about the impact on morale of lying under oath. A witness list, however, has not yet been prepared.
The hearing would leave independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr as the only public witness to discuss the facts in the Judiciary Committee impeachment inquiry of Clinton. Some committee Republicans have said they expect to vote the week of Dec. 7 on approving at least one article of impeachment against the president for perjury in his grand jury testimony in the Monica S. Lewinsky affair.
Judiciary Democrats' spokesman Jim Jordan ridiculed as "mind-boggling" a hearing in which the GOP proposes "to seek guidance as to their constitutional responsibility from a group of convicted felons."
The White House has been alert to any possible deal to avert an impeachment vote in the House and has heard what some officials described as encouraging signs from third parties in contact with House Speaker-designate Bob Livingston (R-La.). Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, a former House Democrat, has been sounding out former colleagues to see where things stand.
White House and congressional officials said impeachment received only passing mention during a courtesy call by new White House Chief of Staff John D. Podesta to Livingston at the Capitol yesterday. "Both agreed it was an issue for members of Congress to decide," according to White House spokeswoman Amy Weiss.
That session came as the Judiciary Committee took its first of four closed-door depositions in the inquiry, from Willey attorney Daniel Gecker. A deposition of Democratic fund-raiser Nathan Landow, originally scheduled for today, was postponed until next week.
Committee sources said the Gecker testimony addressed possible efforts by the Clinton administration to influence Willey, who has accused Clinton of groping her in the Oval Office suite in 1993. Although Starr did not include the Willey allegation in his report of possible impeachable offenses, several GOP committee members have suggested that it may help establish a "pattern of behavior" by the president.
Gecker testified for about 3½ hours in executive session. One committee source said only that "it was a helpful session." Another knowledgeable source said it offered "nothing new."
Committee member Robert C. "Bobby" Scott (D-Va.), who attended the session, would not comment on it, but noted that "Mr. Starr said [the Willey material] was not a subject for which impeachment should be contemplated." Reps. James E. Rogan (R-Calif.) and William D. Delahunt (D-Mass.) also attended the deposition.
Staff writer Peter Baker contributed to this report.
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