Hatch Doubts Starr Will Report Soon
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, June 8, 1998; Page A05
The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said yesterday that he "doubted seriously" that independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr will send Congress an interim report on the Monica S. Lewinsky investigation within the next few weeks because of White House delaying tactics.
If Starr does send an interim report to Congress, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) said on NBC's "Meet the Press," he would need "awfully strong facts in order for an impeachment trial to be justified." Starr is investigating whether President Clinton had an improper relationship with Lewinsky and then urged her to lie about it under oath.
The statements by Hatch, a strong supporter of Starr, appeared to be sending a signal to the independent counsel not to rush a preliminary report to Congress.
Former special prosecutor Paul Curran, who in 1979 exonerated then-President Jimmy Carter after an investigation into the finances of his peanut warehouse, said on the same program that Clinton appeared to be attempting to delay Starr's investigation, despite his pledge to fully cooperate with the probe.
"You can't make a report until you finish your investigation and you can't complete an investigation until you've talked to all the witnesses," Curran said.
"You can't complain about delays in an investigation and then be part of the delay," Curran said.
Jack Quinn, former White House counsel, said the charges of delay were "nonsense."
"I would like, frankly, as a political matter, nothing better than to see this in the House of Representatives, right now. I think if it were, the Republican control of the House would be in jeopardy."
The prospect of a politically volatile impeachment inquiry dominating the news leading up to fall's congressional elections is unpalatable to many Republicans, particularly given Clinton's continued strong standing in public opinion polls.
Hatch said Clinton's sexual behavior is not the issue. The important thing, he said in a separate appearance on CBS's "Face the Nation," is whether there was perjury or an attempt to encourage perjury.
"Perjury, subornation of perjury and obstruction of justice are all high crimes and misdemeanors," he said. "Yes, they would be impeachable."
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