WASHINGTON: Tom Daschle and Trent Lott swear they got along fine during negotiations. But the minority leader and the majority leader each had a line he couldn't cross, and that line ran right through the tapes. With an agreement out of reach, there was nothing left Thursday evening but to put it to the Senators, who in three party-line votes rejected the Democrat plan, re-continued the trial, and passed the Republicans' blueprint. Not only will the depositions be taped, but the tapes, if Republicans decree it, will be shown in the well of the Senate and released to the public. That was what the White House couldn't cede. The firm ending date that Democrats wanted is now a "target date," February 12, but -- and this is what Daschle got -- he and Lott have to agree before more witnesses are called. At that point, says TIME White House correspondent Jay Branegan, "the Clinton team will have to see how many votes they've lost. As long as they still have 40 or so Democrats on the conviction votes, they'll look at risk and reward and leave it alone."
Now the House managers take over. For three days starting Monday, they will shake Sidney Blumenthal, Vernon Jordan and Monica Lewinsky and hope something falls out; if anything does, the President's lawyers will try to sweep it under the rug. Senators will be watching on TV, and so might we (probably as soon as is remotely decorous). By insisting on the videotapes
instead of more boring transcripts, Republicans ditched the Democrats, damned the polls and took full ownership of the rest of this trial. After
taking a breather for a "finding of fact" to write their condemnations into the record, they'll almost certainly lose on the articles, and Bill Clinton will graduate to censure. For the next few weeks, though, Henry Hyde gets his shot at changing America's mind.