Hyde Hearings: Go Fish

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WASHINGTON: The fishing expedition is under way. House Judiciary Committee members have begun hearing from witnesses in the Kathleen Willey affair, a matter so nebulous that even Ken Starr did not make impeachment charges out of it. Willey's lawyer, Daniel Gecker, went in front of a closed-door session of the committee Monday and left without comment. Up next: Nathan Landow, the Democratic donor and landowner, will be probed on whether President Clinton asked him to influence Willey's testimony. When he appeared before Starr's grand jury, Landow invoked the Fifth Amendment. Whether 37 politicians can succeed in opening him up -- where a host of highly trained prosecutors failed -- remains to be seen.

Special Report After that deposition, the committee faces the spectacle of more hearings to justify its hearings. Chairman Henry Hyde has scheduled a "perjury day" late next week -- when everyone from military officials to federal judges will appear to tell us what a horrible crime lying before the court is. Expect some real emotional moments as reformed felons relate stories of the day they told less than the whole truth. "Convicted perjurers may have personal experiences they want to relate," said GOP committee spokeswoman Michelle Morgan. Very interesting, to be sure -- but how useful will it be in this highly partisan environment where most minds have already been made up? The committee doesn't exactly have the luxury of time, either. Hyde has promised to wrap up the hearings by December 7.