WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Clinton's impeachment trial dissolved into partisan debate Saturday, as lawmakers and lawyers alike dueled over a surprise attempt by House prosecutors to question Monica Lewinsky before the Senate decides whether to call witnesses.

Majority Leader Trent Lott, seizing on a comment made by a White House lawyer during the day, announced that Senate Republicans would submit written questions to Clinton as early as Monday. ``We'd like to see what the president has to say about some of the inconsistencies,'' he said.

As opposing attorneys clashed over the Lewinsky-interview issue in the well of the Senate, a Republican spokesman predicted that an attempt by Democratic Sen. Robert C. Byrd to dismiss all charges ``will certainly fail'' when the roll is called early in the week. Republicans hold a 55-45 majority _ but that is well short of the two-thirds majority needed to remove Clinton from office.

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