Who Needs Witnesses?

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WASHINGTON: When it comes to impeaching the President, there's no justice, just politics. With the Pope in town on January 26 as the star of a perfectly-orchestrated series of Clinton photo-ops, the Senate is, well, too scared to have witnesses souring the national mood with tales of oral sex and other White House malfeasances. Making it a real trial, with real witnesses -- however better that might play in the history books -- just isn't a priority. And the Constitution doesn't mind a bit.

Special Report "Maybe an impeachment trial should be like a normal trial, but it's not." says TIME Washington deputy bureau chief Jef McAllister. "It was designed as a political process, and because of that we're allowed to suspend our normal concerns about the justice system." But should we? Even Andrew Johnson's impeachment, which was even more politicized than Clinton's, had witnesses, giving it at least the trappings of due process. Well, as McAllister points out, in 1868 there was no independent counsel. "Ken Starr's already done all the work." As for cross-examining Starr's sources, no one at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue seems eager for the chance.