Gingrich's Impeachment Committee Idea Runs Into Opposition
WASHINGTON (March 17) -- House Speaker Newt Gingrich's proposal for a special inquiry committee on impeachment of President Bill Clinton is meeting with resistance on the Hill.
Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee, the panel which historically handles such matters, are opposing such a move. In a note to Gingrich, committee chairman Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) reportedly said the idea would divide the GOP and politicize the impeachment process.
According to a spokesman for Gingrich, the idea that any impeachment hearing would be conducted by a specially appointed "select committee" rather than the traditional Judiciary Committee was just a "passing thought."
The spokesperson says the idea was merely "floated by Gingrich at a leadership meeting. No decisions were made."
But Rep. Charles Canady (R-Fla.), a member of the Judiciary Committee, said in a letter to Gingrich such a plan "would be widely viewed as an unprecedented and
unprincipled act of partisanship."
"The creation of a 'select committee' would be attacked as an attempt to stack the deck and politicize a process that should be carried out in a judicious and objective manner," Canady said.
According to a source, the idea was "planted with Bob Novak as a trial
balloon" to see how it would play in public. It appeared in Novak's syndicated
The Gingrich spokesperson emphasized as usual these are "preliminary"
discussions in case Independent Counsel Ken Starr sends a report to Congress
that warrants consideration of impeachment.
In such a case, the matter would first be considered by the House of Representatives and if the House did impeach, the Senate would then consider whether to remove the president from office.
That is mandated by the Constitution. The specific committees that would hold hearings is not, although Judiciary has been the traditional venue.
CNN's Bob Franken contributed to this report.