Inquiry Begins A Partisan Dance

While Democrats and Republicans continue to dispute over the rules of an impeachment inquiry against President Clinton, the White House is gathering its best strategists in preparation for the hearings.

White House Special Counsel Greg Craig has been hired to head up the president's strategy team to handle the inquiry. Craig, the former Director of Policy and Planning at the State Department, told CBS 'Face The Nation' Anchor Bob Schieffer that he took his new position to help Mr. Clinton, an old classmate, and to help the future of the presidency.

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"I really felt, growing up as a boy, I had enormous reverence for the presidency, and I believe that that institution is now in grave danger, and I would like to do what I can using whatever talents and professional skills that I've got to try to protect the institution of the presidency and defend it from those who would reduce its power and influence in the world," Craig said.

Craig expressed disappointment with how the House Judiciary Committee's handling of the investigation by independent counsel Kenneth Starr.

"We don't think it's been fair," Craig said. "We think it's been very, very partisan."


Sen. Trent Lott

The partisan bickering on Capitol Hill itself has become an issue. While Democrats say that President Clinton needs to focus on the business of the United States and not on the impeachment inquiry, Republicans are intent on the investigation. However, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., told CBS 'This Morning' that he believed the government's focus is disturbed by the inquiry.

"How can we help but be distracted because of what's going on? There are a lot of dangerous problems around the world...The financial markets around the world are certainly very, very nervous, and we need the full attention and the strongest possible leadership from the United States, and right now, I don't think we're getting it," Lott said.

Other Republicans said Sunday that, even if the House impeaches President Clinton, the Senate isn't ready to remove him from office.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, told NBC's Meet The Press that the Senate lacks the required two-thirds majority -- or 67 votes -- to remove a president.

Still, Hatch said that Congress is prepared to do what is right, not necessarily what's popular.

New Jersey Democratic Senator Robert Torricelli told NBC he thinks the House eventually will agree on a censure of the presidet. Rep. Tom Barrett, D-Wisc., said both parties are digging in their heels, trying to motivate their voters for the election. He said that the final concern will be what is best for the country.

While Lott suggested that Starr may come before the hearings to defend his report to Congress, which has been heavily criticized, Craig had reservations about allowing Mr. Clinton to appear.

"As a lawyer representing a client, I want to tell you that I would not want my client to appear in a forum that didn't have fair rulse, so we've got to first determine what the rules and the processes are and what the intention of this committee is as it goes forward," Craig said.