Gingrich's China Syndrome

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Unable to get another special prosecutor to investigate President Clinton, Newt Gingrich will settle for the next best thing: A House committee. The Speaker said he'd seek (and likely get) a bipartisan panel to look into whether the President's insatiable need for cash prompted the White House to promote the export of classified missile technology to China. Both the White House and Loral, the U.S. aerospace contractor that worked with China, say they didn't give the Chinese any information they couldn't obtain by reading the latest edition of Janes.

Burned by the embarrassing performance of Dan Burton, Gingrich is opting for California Republican Christopher Cox to head up this latest Clinton inquiry. "He's a guy who's got strong conservative credentials but is not as wild as Burton," says TIME congressional correspondent John Dickerson. "Cox had been tapped last year by Gingrich to watch over Burton on the committee investigating campaign finance. So he's somebody who Gingrich trusts, though he doesn't have the stature of somebody like Henry Hyde, who's seen as a sort of sober, fair-minded judge." Nevertheless, without the unpredictable Burton to distract attention, Republicans hope to embarrass Clinton, not themselves, this time around.