Clinton Plans Vigorous Defense

The House Judiciary Committee began preparing Friday for its impeachment investigation of President Clinton.

Republican Chairman Henry Hyde said the open-ended hearings probably will begin in mid-November, after the congressional elections. An array of witnesses is expected - including Monica Lewinsky and Kenneth Starr.

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CBS News Senior White House Correspondent Scott Pelley reports that sources tell CBS News that the president's impeachment defense team wants numerous witnesses called before the House Judiciary Committee and wants to cross-examine many of the key figures in the Lewinsky scandal. The White House envisions a proceeding not unlike a trial.

The president's lawyers will meet with the committee next week to discuss how the impeachment hearing will proceed.

A source familiar with White House plans tell CBS News: "We are very interested in cross-examining virtually everybody. We want to call witnesses and examine them directly. The president will attempt to be cooperative, but clearly there will be a vigorous defense."

The White House declined to characterize what cooperation means.

"We're going to work with them on how we can move forward and how we can take this process and move it along," said White House spokesman Joe Lockhart. "We will talk to them as reasonable people do in a reasonable process."

Mr. Clinton's lawyers expect to argue that the key witnesses have been questioned only by hostile prosecutors so far, so they must be interviewed again. For his part, Mr. Clinton is turning his attention to the election.

On Friday, he met Democratic Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy, who voted against him on impeachment. He told her to forget the vote. The White House wants her re-elected.

Mr. Clinton will spend much of next week raising money for Democratic candidates like McCarthy. White House strategists believe if Democrats don't suffer a rout on Election Day, Mr. Clinton has a good chance to strike a deal that would leave him in office.

On Capitol Hill, meanwhile, CBS News Correspondent Phil Jones reports that Friday was a day of regrouping for members of the House Judicary Committee.

Now that the impeachment inquiry is approved, they've got to decide how to do it. Chairman Hyde said there was no official witness list. But both Republicans and Democrats are starting to talk about their own lists.

Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, who argued vigorously on the House floor against the inquiry, was talking about hearing still more from witnesses who have conflicting stories about the president.
"That would be Ms. Tripp, obviously Ms. Lewinsky, maybe the president's secretary, maybe Mr. Jordan, maybe some of the Secret Service in terms of information that they may have to give us," she said.

Rep. Lindsay Graham, a South Carolina Republican, agrees that Monica Lewinsky should face the scrutiny of congress.

"If you really believe that parts of her testimony are key to determine whether or not the president committed perjury, I think for the sake of history and for the sake of making a good decision, you would want to see that person and judge the credibility," he said.

Democrats have another witness they want to haul before Congress: the Independent Counsel. Hyde said Friday he would have no objection to Kenneth Starr being called, but another Republican said there would be objections if Democrats try to turn the hearings into an investigation of Starr.