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Senate Rejects Live Testimony By Lewinsky, Nears Conclusion

By Edwin Chen and Marc Lacey
Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON

The Senate Thursday overwhelmingly rejected a bid by House prosecutors for live testimony by Monica S. Lewinsky in President Clinton's impeachment trial, but it allowed excerpts of her videotaped deposition to be aired on Saturday.

The strongly bipartisan vote barring Lewinsky's live testimony put the Senate squarely on track to conclude the proceeding by the end of next week.

"I thought it was a critical day and guarantees now that we're moving to the final phase of the impeachment trial," said Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.).

The White House agreed. "(Thursday's) vote rejecting the House managers' request for live witnesses indicates the Senate appears ready to bring this trial to a conclusion," said presidential spokesman Joe Lockhart.

In a further sign of the gathering momentum toward the finish line, Republicans backed away from pushing a proposal to adopt a "finding of fact" resolution that would declare the case against Clinton essentially proven but stop short of removing him from office. Democrats had vehemently opposed the proposal, arguing that it is not permitted in an impeachment trial.

With the trial's end now clearly in sight, Democrats, led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, escalated their efforts to craft a bipartisan resolution to censure the president presumably after his acquittal.

Feinstein has been working behind the scenes to build support for such a resolution, which would require only a simple majority to pass. It's fate, though, remains uncertain.

The 70-30 vote to bar Lewinsky's live testimony marked the first time in the impeachment trial that the GOP did not vote as a bloc 25 Republican senators joined with the chamber's 45 Democrats in opposing the request for Lewinsky to provide additional testimony.

Lewinsky made 22 appearances last year before a federal grand jury, and was questioned privately on Monday by House prosecutors.