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Senate Set To Take up Charges

January 2, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) _ When the 106th Congress convenes on Wednesday, the Senate will open more than just another legislative year.

First on the agenda are the perjury and obstruction of justice charges the House passed last month against President Clinton.

Under pressure from conservatives to both hold a full-fledged trial and complete the GOP’s legislative agenda, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott has proposed a truncated trial to start the week of Jan. 11.

The proposal has come under fire from Republicans who want a full hearing of the evidence against Clinton. Many logistical questions - such as how long the trial will last and whether to discuss censuring the president - remain to be answered, likely after Republicans and Democrats caucus privately on Wednesday.

Shortly beforehand, however, they will be sworn in. When the trial opens, the articles of impeachment will be read and Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, who would preside over the trial, will be sworn in.

Then, all 100 senators would swear to a special oath as jurors.

Clinton’s defense team will then have an opportunity to answer the charges. At any time, senators could overrule Rehnquist’s rulings with a simple majority vote.

Lawmakers widely believe, however, that the two-thirds majority doesn’t exist to remove Clinton from office.

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