Crisis in Washington: Ford and Carter seek fast solution

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The Independent Online
THESE ARE edited excerpts from an article in yesterday's `New York Times' co-written by former presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter.

We are convinced that the public good requires a prompt and fair resolution of the impeachment issue. Fortunately, Senate procedures ... provide the means to end this national ordeal in ways that can uphold the rule of law without permanently damaging the Presidency ...

In addition to immediate dismissal of the charges against President Clinton, there are four alternatives for the Senate to weigh: a trial followed by acquittal; a trial followed by conviction and removal from office; a trial followed by censure; or censure without a trial ...

Impeachment has already brought disgrace to President Clinton. Whatever happens in the near future will do little to affect history's judgement of him. But he is not alone before the bar of judgement. Our political system, too, is on trial.

We personally favour a bipartisan resolution of censure by the Senate. Under such a plan, President Clinton would have to accept rebuke while acknowledging his wrongdoing and the very real harm he has caused. Clearly, the American people expect and desire an outcome that is firm, fair and untainted by partisan advantage. That is the challenge before us. How we meet that challenge will go a long way toward healing our divided nation.