WASHINGTON (AP) — White House attorneys were rebuffed Wednesday in trying to get Republican lawyers to specify the charges President Clinton will face in a House impeachment inquiry arising out of his relationship with former intern Monica Lewinsky.
In the first meeting between the administration lawyers and House Judiciary Committee attorneys since the House approve the impeachment inquiry, Republicans made clear they were not now dropping any core evidence referred by Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr.
White House lawyer Gregory Craig told reporters he was rebuffed on most of the issues he raised, ranging from an accounting of the charges against Clinton to limiting the inquiry to the Clinton-Lewinsky relationship.
Republicans left a mixed message on whether the inquiry might extend beyond Clinton’s conduct in trying to conceal his “not appropriate” relationship with Ms. Lewinsky.
But Republicans also tried to assure Clinton’s lawyers they were not seeking to expand the probe beyond allegations that Clinton may have obstructed justice, tampered with evidence and lied under oath in an effort to keep his affair with Ms. Lewinsky private.
Asked specifically if the inquiry might encompass Whitewater real estate deals, White House travel office firings and misuse of FBI files, chief committee investigator David Schippers said there were no plans to involve those subjects, sources familiar with the discussions said.
While the White House attorneys expressed frustration after the meeting, they acknowledged that it was somewhat cordial. “There was no banging fists on the table,” Craig said.
But Craig reiterated the White House’s position that the grounds listed by Schippers and Starr do “not rise to the level of a constitutional offense” that would require removal from office.