Senate trial will see Lewinsky on video

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The Independent Online
MONICA LEWINSKY will not be called to testify in person on the floor of the US Senate, senators agreed yesterday.

The decision averts a nightmare scenario for the White House: the "live" appearance of President Bill Clinton's one-time sex partner in the upper chamber. However, the Senate voted that a "virtual" Monica should appear - approving a motion to show the videotapes of witness testimony, including Ms Lewinsky's. The tapes will be edited, with the prosecutors from the House of Representatives able to show the sections that support their case, and the White House defence lawyers able to present excerpts in support of their arguments - up to a total of three hours each.

Ms Lewinsky answered prosecutors' questions for a total of four hours on Monday, and the other two witnesses, Vernon Jordan and Sidney Blumenthal, were interrogated for a total of five hours.

The White House was said to be disappointed with the decision to show the tapes, which will now be seen by the public, unless the Senate votes to view them in closed session. Some senators have already seen the unedited tapes in special sessions, but have been sworn to secrecy about the contents. Among those who viewed them, the consensus across both parties was that Ms Lewinsky was a highly credible witness, even if neither she nor the other two witnesses had any significantly new evidence to offer.

Yesterday's votes on witnesses and evidence showed more cross-party cohesion than almost any Senate vote since the unanimous decision on procedure that allowed the trial to start. More than 20 Republicans crossed the floor to join Democrats in opposing a "live" appearance by Ms Lewinsky in the Senate. About the same number of Democrats joined Republicans in approving the showing of the tapes.

The Senate will reconvene tomorrow to view the tapes in a session that marks the beginning of the end of the presidential impeachment trial.

Yesterday's session lasted a bare four hours, indicating the strong desire of both parties to end the trial no later than next week. With the public bored and unimpressed with the Senate proceedings and the Republicans sinking fast in the polls, no one has any interest in prolonging the trial.

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