Lott's Trial Balloon

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By the time Chief Justice William Rehnquist administers the oath given to Senators before an impeachment trial, G.O.P. conservatives may have torpedoed Lott's plan. But as the majority leader is quick to point out, in the absence of an agreed-upon schedule, there is nothing to prevent a coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans from putting together the simple majority of 51 votes needed to short-circuit a trial altogether and move immediately toward censure. His plan, Lott argues, at least gives House prosecutors a chance to make the case for conviction and then allows Senators to vote on whether to prosecute further. The question is whether Lott has the leadership skills and the clout to sell that argument to his critics. If he doesn't, Lott's legacy to the Senate and the country may be the dragging out of the scandal for many months to come.
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