The Starr Report: The Committee - Allies and foes who can seal Clinton's fate

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The Independent Online
THE WHITE HOUSE will be anxiously scanning the records of the 34 members of the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives this week because they can make or break Bill Clinton if impeachment hearings are set.

The committee includes some of the most ideologically dedicated members of the House; it will be hard for the President to find moderate Republicans who might be persuaded to swing his way.

The chairman, Henry Hyde, is a right-wing Republican, but one who is broadly trusted by both sides to be impartial. His opposite number, John Conyers of Michigan, is a moderate in most senses, but an enemy of Mr Starr's. He is under pressure from the black community to stand up for the President.

The attack dog on the right wing is Bob Barr, a Georgia Republican, who called for the President's impeachment nearly a year ago.

On the left is Barney Frank, of Massachusetts, who will becharged with a rapid rebuttal of partisan Republican claims.

Charles Rangel of New York, one of the President's most solid allies, said over the weekend of the Starr report: "When you've got nothing else going for you, you go for the dirt and filth."

The Republicans have a hefty majority on the committee, as in Congress, so in a straight, partisan vote, the President would be lost. There are some, however, who may be persuaded to swing his way, such as Bill McCollum, a Florida Republican. He is a moderate; careful, attentive to legal detail and often ready to break with the more ideological Republicans.

Charles Canady, also from Florida, is more closely aligned with the right- wingers, and has also clashed with Mr Frank on several occasions, but is intelligent, studious and legally minded.

The greatest risk - with heated debate and so little common ground between the President's enemies and his friends - is that the committee proceedings will degenerate into squabbling between factions.

Mr Frank will be watching like a hawk for attempts by the Speaker, Newt Gingrich, to intervene in committee affairs.

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