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Starr Witness Divides House

With one day to go before independent counsel Kenneth Starr is scheduled to testify before the House Judiciary Committee, the political sparring has reached a fever pitch. Democrats are even threatening not to attend the hearings.

Democrats and Republicans were deeply divided Wednesday over the amount of time White House attorneys would have to question Starr. President Clinton's attorneys had wanted 90 minutes, but they will get no more than 30, Rep. Henry Hyde, the committee's chairman, said late Tuesday.

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Hyde also rejected a White House request for more than one lawyer to cross-examine Starr, and warned the administration that questions into Starr's tactics would not be permitted when hearings begin Thursday.

"The fact that the committee approved rules allowing your participation demonstrates the extent to which it wants to be fair to the president," Hyde, R-Ill., wrote White House Counsel Charles F.C. Ruff in a sternly worded letter late Tuesday night.

Democrats are also upset by the broadening in scope of the probe leading up to Starr's testimony.

A source at the committee says it is now inevitable that there will be more high-profile witnesses along with Starr, CBS News Senior White House Correspondent Scott Pelley reports. And CBS News has learned Starr's testimony on Thursday will not be limited to the Lewinsky case.

"This is really an outrageous procedure that we hotly contest," said House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt.

The broadening scope of the inquiry prompted Gephardt to make this threat: "I mean, if this thing keeps going the way it has been going, Democrats may decide not to come to the hearing."

Sources tell CBS News that Starr intends to present the Lewinsky case in the context of all his investigations of the president over the last four years.

These sources say Starr will attempt to show a pattern and practice of obstruction of justice beginning with the Whitewater real estate scandal.

On Tuesday, Starr sent Congress four boxes of fresh evidence on Whitewater. Starr alleges that Mr. Clinton's friend, Webster Hubble, was paid to keep quiet about the real estate fraud.

There is new testimony from Democratic fund-raiser John Huang, who says he arranged a lucrative payment to Hubble. Hubble denies it was hush money.

Starr will be the only scheduled witness Thursday, when the committee begins to hear evidence in only the third presidential impeachment inquiry in the nation's history.

©1998 CBS Worldwide Corp. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report

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