Today's Papers

Fade in Japan

USA Today

, the Washington Post and Los Angeles Times each lead with the onset today of the House Judiciary Committee’s debate about whether to initiate an impeachment investigation against President Clinton. The New York Times plays that story as its off-lead and goes instead with word of a private meeting over the weekend in Washington at which Japan’s top financial officials told Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin and Fed chairman Alan Greenspan that their country’s banks are in far worse trouble than has ever been publicly admitted.

The coverage makes it clear that the Judiciary committee’s discussions will be highly partisan, but also that due to the committee’s Republican majority–USAT reminds that the committee count is 21 Rs and 16 Ds, and that with the exception of California Rep. Mary Bono, all the Rs are white, Christian, conservative men–in just a few days the entire House will be voting on whether or not to authorize the committee to start an impeachment inquiry. There is more of a question about how many crossover votes this will get in the full House. The NYT implies that in a floor vote, Democrats from conservative or swing districts might cross over. The WP quotes a Sunday chat show prediction by a leading Republican congressman that as many as 100 might do so. All the papers report that the consensus is that despite all this, there aren’t sufficient impeachment votes in the Senate.

The NYT and USAT note Judiciary chairman Henry Hyde’s Sunday talk show comment that the committee’s majority counsel, David Schippers, may well recommend that some of Ken Starr’s charges be dropped while adding some others. The NYT says the additions might include lying under oath and concealment of a felony. Last Saturday, the WP, citing an informed source, reported that there would be new charges of witness tampering, obstruction of justice, and making false statements under oath, but today’s WP only mentions the latter new charge. The NYT says that Schippers will express the personal regret he feels as a registered Democrat about the charges he’s tendering. The Post says he may name Monica Lewinsky as a co-conspirator. But the LAT quotes Hyde as saying that he doesn’t see the need to call her as a witness.

According to the NYT lead, the governor of the Bank of Japan told Rubin and Greenspan that the capital behind his nation’s top 19 banks has dwindled so low that if international rules requiring capital on hand to be at least 8 percent of total outstanding loans were strictly enforced, they might be banned from operating overseas. Indeed, says the Times, the bank governor’s remarks suggest that some of Japan’s banks don’t even have the 4 percent capital Japan requires for domestic banking. According to the paper, the situation was clouded by the conflicting remarks of other senior Japanese banking officials.

The LAT front tells a disturbing tale about the current state of security of the Russian nuclear arsenal. It seems that last month, at a naval base near Murmansk, a 19-year-old sailor killed eight crewmen aboard a nuclear submarine and took control of the vessel for twenty hours, repeatedly threatening to destroy it, creating the potential for what one scientist quoted in the LAT calls a “floating Chernobyl.” The episode only ended when the sailor, who had locked himself in one of the vessel’s torpedo bays, killed himself. Russian authorities, you won’t be surprised to learn, said the submarine and the people in the vicinity were “absolutely safe.”

An inside story in the NYT says that tomorrow, Amnesty International will publish a harsh report condemning the U.S. police and criminal justice system for “a persistent and widespread pattern of human rights violations.” The paper quotes the head of Amnesty International, who is from Senegal, as saying that “it seems to me that the international community, in terms of standards, is moving really ahead of the standards obtained in the United States today.” Hmmm…where would you rather be arrested, in the U.S. or Senegal?

Revealing little story in the WP business section by the paper’s legal reporter, David Segal. Seems that a George Washington University law student was unhappy about the lack of attention the school’s student body has been getting from Prof. Jonathan Turley, who has been spending a lot of time lately on TV commenting on l’affaire Lewinsky (39 appearances between January and August). So the student devised a little experiment. Last month, he called Turley’s office, leaving a message that he was a GWU student asking for an office appointment. Thirteen minutes later, his roommate called up, leaving a message falsely identifying herself as an ABC News producer. The “producer’s” call was returned in 32 minutes. The student’s call was never returned.