NewsHour Impeachment Coverage: Analysis and Commentary - The President's Defense

December 9, 1998

TOM OLIPHANT: Well, we got - we got the moment before the climactic moments of this inquiry -- I think in terms of testimony and everything, this panel has ended the House Judiciary Committee's impeachment inquiry, and other than hearing from the poor defendant's lawyer and having the case summarized and articles presented and voted on, the case is pretty much over.

JIM LEHRER: Do you agree?

STUART TAYLOR: Yes. Of course, we haven't seen the articles yet. The indictment hasn't quite been - but we know the rough outlines of what it will be - perjury here, perjury there, grand jury - obstruction of justice, which really is in this case - boils down largely to witness tampering with Betty Currie and Monica Lewinsky. And obviously, the censure option is coming more and more into focus in this committee. We've seen reports that the chairman will allow a vote on censure after a vote on impeachment to give those who favor that an option. I think one thing that may be very difficult - lots of people say let's just censure him - is okay, what is the censure motion going to say, and how do you get all the people who want to say he lied, he lied, he's a criminal, prosecute him, together with all the people who want to say he was a naughty boy, and we don't want to really look at it anymore, plus the people who say a fine would be an unconstitutional bill of attainder and those who like Governor Weld of Massachusetts - the former governor - say, oh, no, you can do that if he agrees to it - I think that's going to be very tricky business.

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