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Rep. Wolf of Virginia Calls for Clinton to Step Down

By R.H. Melton
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 16, 1998; Page A33

RICHMOND, Sept. 15—Republican Rep. Frank R. Wolf of Northern Virginia today became the first Washington area member of Congress to demand President Clinton's resignation, saying his "moral authority, personal credibility and integrity" were ruined by his handling of the Monica S. Lewinsky controversy.

"He has let the American people down in a grievous manner," Wolf said in a prepared statement. "He has abused the power and office of the presidency. I believe he has lost the ability to be an effective and credible leader of our country."

Although other suburban members of Congress from the Washington area have castigated Clinton for his private behavior and public utterances, no one has been as forceful as Wolf in calling for the president's resignation.

Immediately after the release of independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr's report on Clinton's alleged misconduct, Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D) of Alexandria said Clinton should consider resigning as an "option" to end "one of the saddest episodes in American history."

Wolf, generally a moderate, went further than Moran, saying today that "the time has come for the president to resign. . . . Resignation is the honorable thing to do."

In a telephone interview, Wolf said he reviewed Starr's report over the weekend and decided Monday to issue his statement, seven months after taking the House floor and calling on Clinton to tell the country the truth.

"I hoped and expected, quite frankly, the outcome would be different," Wolf said. "Truth is what makes this country go."

Wolf, 59, has represented Virginia's 10th District since 1980, rising to a pivotal subcommittee chairmanship on transportation, an issue dear to the hearts of his constituents in Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties.

At the same time, Wolf has made foreign policy issues something of a speciality, and he said in his statement that the country's attention to hot spots around the world would be diverted if Clinton stays.

"From a world view, we face dangerous times," said Wolf, who toured parts of the Middle East this summer. "We need to pay attention to keeping our own economy strong."

Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, the other GOP member of Congress from Northern Virginia, has not called for Clinton's resignation, though he has said Starr's allegations of witness-tampering and lying under oath "do constitute impeachable offenses," if they can be proved.

Wolf, one of eight Republicans who refused to vote for the installation of Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) as House speaker while he was under an ethical cloud involving a book deal, said he was not motivated by partisan concerns.

He said he probably would have called for Clinton's resignation sooner if the president were a fellow Republican.

"I don't think there's any partisanship here," Wolf said.

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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