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Impeachment Vote Nears As Panel Holds Second Hearing

By Guy Gugliotta and Juliet Eilperin
The Washington Post

The House Judiciary Committee announced Monday it will hold its second public hearing on whether President Clinton should be impeached, publicly debating "the consequences of perjury," as panel investigators took closed-door testimony Monday from the attorney for former White House volunteer Kathleen E. Willey.

The Dec. 1 hearing, committee sources said, is likely to feature testimony from federal judges, individuals convicted of perjury and military personnel who would talk about the impact to morale of lying under oath. A witness list, however, has not yet been prepared.

The hearing would leave independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr as the only public witness to discuss the facts in the Judiciary impeachment inquiry of Clinton. Some committee Republicans have said they expect to vote the week of Dec. 7 on approving at least one article of impeachment against the president for perjury in his grand jury testimony in the Monica S. Lewinsky affair.

The White House has been alert to any possible deal to avert an impeachment vote in the House and has heard what some officials described as encouraging signs from third parties in contact with House Speaker-designate Bob Livingston, R-La. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, a former House Democrat, has been sounding out ex-colleagues to see where things stand.

But White House and congressional officials said impeachment received only passing mention during a courtesy call by new White House Chief of Staff John D. Podesta to Livingston at the Capitol Monday. That session came as the Judiciary Committee took its first of four closed-door depositions in the inquiry, from attorney Daniel Gecker.

Committee sources said the Gecker testimony addressed possible efforts by the Clinton administration to influence Willey, who has accused Clinton of groping her in the Oval Office suite in 1993. Although Starr did not include the Willey allegations in his report of possible impeachable offsenses, several GOP committee members have suggested that it may help establish a "pattern of behavior" by the president.