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A capital in crisisÂ…a president staring at the slammerÂ…puffed up pundits predicting impeachment: TIME OUT!
Looking at the President's legal - as opposed to political - situation, the only thing we know is that we don't know enough to venture a solid opinion on whether there's a case.
Among the big blanks yet to be filled in: Is there credible evidence the President committed perjury in testifying about Monica Lewinsky? What he said under oath hasn't been made public. Nobody except the people who were at the deposition have any idea what questions were asked," says Law professor and former Iran-Contra prosecutor Stephen Saltzburg, "and no one has any idea of exactly what answers he gave."
Unanswered Question number two: What exactly is on those Tripp tapes? There are supposed to be 23 hours in all. Only a handful of journalists have heard about an hour. "There could be dynamite material on those tapes which has not been disclosed," according to Saltzman.
Unanswered question number three: Is there evidence to back up the soap opera storyÂ…things like White House visitor lists? The prosecutors are looking. But how much the public will get to see has the Clinton team flip-flopping. "I'd like for you to have more rather than lessÂ…sooner rather than later," President Clinton said. That counters White House spokesman Mike McCurry who had no answer for journalists who asked when they could see the materials.
Question number four: Why did so many big shots - Vernon Jordan and U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson to name a few - help a lowly intern find a new job? The public story begs questions.
Question number five: Does special prosecutor Kenneth Starr have a case he can bring to trial? Perjury cases are difficult to prove. This one might rest on just two witnesses: a President and an intern. That's what lawyers call a "swearing match."
So the prospect - despite all the hyperventilating in the chattering class - is for a long, drawn-out, possibly inconclusive investigation.
Written by Eric Engerg, CBS News Correspondent