Democrats move to counter GOP plans for impeachment inquiry

WASHINGTON (AP) — With a House vote set for Thursday on launching an open-ended impeachment inquiry, Democrats rushed to counter Republican plans while still underscoring their disapproval of President Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky.
At the White House, spokesman Joe Lockhart accused the GOP leadership of using the impeachment issue “to embarrass the president” and produce political gain for Republicans at the polls this fall.
Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, said the issue would come to the floor for a vote on Thursday. Republican officials expressed confidence they would prevail, thus making Clinton the third president in history to face possible impeachment proceedings.
With midterm elections less than a month away, political calculations weighed heavily as the issue moved toward a vote on the House floor.
Rank-and-file Democrats caucused privately Tuesday to discuss their response to the GOP proposal.
Leaders are likely to redraft a plan that was offered in the Judiciary Committee on Monday that would have limited the scope of the inquiry to the Lewinsky affair, and called for it to be concluded by Nov. 25. A second proposal, authored by Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., would have required the committee to first decide whether Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr’s allegations, if proven, would constitute impeachable offenses. If so, the Judiciary Committee would then be empowered to investigate with unlimited time.