WASHINGTON: This much we know about the third and final Starr report data dump, due Friday: There's no smoking gun
. Beyond that, Democratic and Republican staffers on the House Judiciary Committee
are already vying to put the best possible spin -- pro- or anti-Clinton -- on the tangled mass of testimony, tapes and transcripts. Here's what the GOP would like you to note: Dick Morris muttering darkly of a presidential "secret police" that keeps the lid on bimbo eruptions; Monica Lewinsky telling Linda Tripp "I wouldn't cross these people for fear of my life"; Betty Currie's growing forgetfulness on the witness stand. For the Democrats, Tripp's tapes show an impressionable Lewinsky being willfully manipulated -- if not entrapped -- by her older, wired friend, and Currie's testimony is even more exculpatory than Starr dared reveal.
With 4,000 pages of testimony from more than 100 grand jury witnesses, there's more than enough material for both sides to keep spinning until the President's term runs out. Far more important, for at least some committee members, is discovering whether this is the final dump. Does Starr plan to send over any more material -- on Whitewater, Filegate or Travelgate, for instance? Such a seemingly simple question is what the bipartisan band of four want chairman Henry Hyde to ask the independent counsel. But given Starr's penchant for meticulously collecting mountains of data, the committee should be careful what it wishes for.