Hill Gets the Willeys

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WASHINGTON: Thanks a lot, Ken. Just as beleaguered House Republicans are debating the quickest exit route from the impeachment process that grew out of his earlier referral, Judge Starr has passed along a whole bunch of new evidence - this time, concerning presidential accuser Kathleen Willey. But unlike the Lewinsky report, the latest data dump contains no official accusation of wrongdoing. Starr is merely offering documents that suggest Clinton may have committed (you guessed it) perjury when asked about his relationship with Willey. And right now, that's the last thing the GOP needs. "Republicans on the Hill look on the Willey charges as a poison chalice," says TIME congressional correspondent Jay Branegan. "There's a strong desire to get impeachment over with quickly - yet if they look like they're not considering it carefully, it hurts them with the core supporters."

Special Report What's worse is the nebulous nature of the evidence. At least Clinton admitted to an "improper" tryst with Lewinsky; where Willey was concerned, the White House released a sackful of letters suggesting this Democratic volunteer was less than harassed. "This is classic he-said, she-said stuff," says Branegan. "Starr is scraping the bottom of the barrel here." Which could explain why the independent counsel is not making an official impeachment charge - and why he released the Willey evidence on a day when the rest of Washington was focused on Iraq. Not that Starr has been completely unproductive. In fact, the 15 felony counts his grand jury brought against Webster Hubbell Friday could put the President's golf buddy in jail for 110 years.