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Many on both sides of the political aisle were convinced the election
results had stolen Henry Hyde’s resolve to proceed with the impeachment process
when they heard he was planning to call Ken Starr as the sole witness.
Democrats were quietly rejoicing and Republicans were frantic with despair.
Both sides grossly underestimated Mr. Hyde. The initial news story let only one
of Henry’s shoes drop. Today the other one stomped, as it was revealed he had
submitted 81 questions to President Clinton to be answered under oath for the
purpose of narrowing the issues and expediting the hearing.

Democrats have insisted that the hearings be concluded quickly, contending
that Clinton’s admissions to the essential allegations make an extensive
hearing unnecessary.

Chairman Hyde’s decision to submit requests for admissions to the president
is a masterstroke because it finally forces him and his House Judiciary
Committee accomplices to either put up or shut up. If there are no material
facts in dispute then Mr. Clinton will be able simply to admit them. If he
refuses, witnesses will have to be called.

The plain truth is that neither Clinton nor his defenders are being honest
about the disputed issues that remain on the table. We have certainly come to
expect Clinton to play verbal games with us, but we shouldn’t allow ourselves
to be deluded by them. Mr. Clinton has not even been honest about what sexual
activity occurred, much less whether he committed perjury, obstructed justice
or abused his power. He maintains he did not have sexual relations with Monica
as defined in the Jones deposition. His denial is based on his hypothetical
admission that he received, but did
not administer sexually titillating contact. Now let’s be very clear: Monica
unequivocally testified that the president touched her in two sexually
sensitive places with the intent to arouse her. Her testimony is unambiguously
contradictory of his. His statements vociferously and continually proclaim
Monica a liar notwithstanding his bizarre grand jury lament that the truth is,
“in some ways, the most mysterious area of human life.”

Beyond Monica, there’s Betty Currie. Bill Clinton testified before the grand
jury that his rhetorical statements to her that, “(Monica and I) were never
really alone,” “she wanted to have sex with me and I couldn’t do that,” etc.,
were not for the purpose of influencing or rehearsing her testimony. Rather, he
was just trying to make sure he correctly remembered the facts. That’s not what
Betty Currie thought he was doing. He knew he had been alone with Monica and
had engaged in sex with her when he was telling Betty Currie the opposite.
Thus, there is no possibility he was doing anything other than attempting to
influence her testimony. Mr. Clinton has never come clean about this either.

Here is but a sampling of the many other facts that Clinton has either
flatly denied or refused to admit:

  • that he lied under oath in the Jones deposition about conspiring with
    Monica to conceal subpoenaed gifts to obstruct justice in the Jones case;

  • that he procured Monica’s false affidavit in the Jones case;

  • that he tried to help Monica get a job in New York to buy her silence;

  • that he called Vernon Jordan several times immediately after his Jones
    deposition.

Also among the 81, are questions relating to the White House’s alleged
employment of investigators to gather dirt on witnesses for the purpose of
intimidating them from testifying. Though Clinton has never been asked this
question under oath, the White House has repeatedly denied the allegations.

Clinton now has four options:

  1. to admit the allegations;

  2. to deny them;

  3. to admit some and deny others;

  4. to refuse to answer some or all of the questions and try to spin his way
    out of another one. If he chooses any but the first, he will force the
    Republicans to conduct thorough evidentiary hearings because it is
    inconceivable that in the absence of his admissions they will impeach on the
    Starr Report alone.

Indeed, Mr. Hyde has made it clear that as “the president is free to
dispute, of course, whatever he wants,” it is solely up to him whether the
hearings will be brief and whether it will be necessary to call many witnesses.
Mr. Hyde is committed to “vindicating the rule of law and to follow the truth,
wherever it leads us.”

Democrats will protest Hyde’s maneuver as unfair and partisan when in fact
it is the essence of fairness. He is empowering the president to avoid
protracted, uncomfortable and distracting hearings.

Please tell us Mr. President: Will we complete the inquiry by the end of the
year?

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