Clinton Archenemy Faces His Own Deposition Woes

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Remember House impeachment prosecutor Henry Hyde and his "youthful indiscretions"? Now comes word that another top Republican, House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, could be sitting on a deposition problem. According to a story reported in the New Republic, DeLay may have been less than completely truthful in a 1994 civil deposition he gave as a defendant in a business lawsuit. The question is whether DeLay correctly indicated how long he served as chairman of Albo Pest Control. DeLay maintains the allegations against him are nothing more than unsubstantiated dirt by his political enemies. "But if it turns out that he lied," says TIME congressional correspondent John Dickerson, "he's got a political problem."

It's not difficult to see why a deposition goof would be hugely embarrassing for DeLay and the Republican party. "No Republican leader has sought the President's ouster more fervently than DeLay," says Dickerson. Democrats would like nothing better than to see DeLay fall on his own impeachment sword. That sword, however, has been handed over to the Senate and the House has moved on. "As a result," says Dickerson, "it's unlikely that DeLay's deposition problem, if substantiated, would force him to step down. It is more likely to go down into the growing folder of impeachment hypocrisies." If the accusation is proven, however, DeLay's entry in the folder could be one that some Democrats may want to keep at hand, just in case, for campaign 2000.