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Rumblings Of Fear In Washington

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are bracing for President Clinton's testimony Monday afternoon, as his answers to prosecutors will determine whether they will have to begin impeachment proceedings, CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer reports.

Members of Congress say they just want to hear the truth, and most members who have been quoted over the last two weeks have said that the main thing they want is for the president to give some sort of public explanation after he talks to the grand jury.

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In their heart of hearts, what they really want to hear is something from the president that will bring this obstruction of justice investigation to some kind of conclusion and put it in such a way that Congress doesn't have to deal with it. They are scared to death of it.

Many Republicans who hope for the worst - who hope the president will either make a fool of himself when he goes before the grand jury or gets himself caught in something that is so bad that the Congress will have to alternative but to impeach him - are basing their actions on how the public reacts to the hearing. Unless Mr. Clinton's popularity ratings really plunge, it appears they will be reluctant to make such a move.

However, with the November elections approaching, there is another rumbling in Washington - that of fear.

What worries Congress is the unknown. They don't know how this is
going to play with the American public and they (the Republicans especially) fear that the chain of events could blow up in their faces if the president makes a statement to the grand jury, then makes a statement to the American people that encourages their support.

The Republicans are also worried it might look like they are attacking Mr. Clinton.

A Republican strategist told CBS News that the GOP contends they are "in good enough shape" come November to hold the House of Representatives and keep the majority. In the same breath, the adviser said the impact of possible impeachment hearings are unknown.