Call the Next Witness

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WASHINGTON: As if the grueling 12-hour session with Ken Starr weren't punishment enough, House Judiciary Committee members had to stay behind after class Thursday night while the two sides bitterly debated over whether to call new witnesses to the impeachment inquiry. Offering no explanation, the GOP majority railroaded four new subpoenas - for Kathleen Willey's attorney, Daniel Gecker; Democratic donor Nathan Landow; Clinton attorney Bob Bennett and White House lawyer Bruce Lindsey. "What's interesting," says TIME Washington correspondent James Carney, "is that we still don't know what the Republicans have in mind by deposing them. Do they believe already that these witnesses have something valuable, or is this just a fishing expedition?"

Special Report The only explanation came from Rep. Steve Chabot. "I think we're just going forth, trying to make sure that we've got all the evidence," offered the Ohio Republican. "I think that we're making some real progress." Although the direction of that progress was unclear, committee chair Henry Hyde renewed his vow to have the whole inquiry wrapped up by the New Year. Democrats, of course, are equally keen to get it over with - which is why they raised no objection to Lindsey's appearance and agreed to waive that contentious attorney-client privilege (much to Bill Clinton's chagrin; the President complained that calling a plaintiff's private lawyer was "without precedent"). And for those of us who've seen too much already, there was blessed relief: The four depositions will take place behind closed doors.