The House Judiciary Committee’s vote to recommend impeachment for President Clinton leads at all the papers. The HJC approved 3 articles of impeachment late Friday afternoon by votes of 21-16, 20-17, and 21-16. The articles accuse the President of: 1) lying before the Lewinsky grand jury, 2) lying under oath in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case, and 3) obstructing justice by attempting to influence witnesses in the Lewinsky case. Committee members voted the party line with the exception of Rep. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who voted against impeachment for lying in a civil case. The papers all note that the votes came just minutes after another Clinton apology, this time from the White House Rose Garden, in which he expressed profound regret, asked for a censure from Congress, and, once again, did not admit to lying under oath. The committee will vote on the fourth article, which alleges abuse of power, on Saturday morning.
The Washington Post says the timing of the vote, which came immediately after Clinton’s apology, lent “a dramatic-some said surreal-quality to the moment of judgement.” All the papers mention that Clinton now joins Andrew Johnson and Richard Nixon as the third president to face impeachment. The New York Times points out that the events leading up to the House’s vote next week began as “a civil sex harassment suit by an obscure Arkansas civil servant.”
The weekend papers all feature front-page articles on a second-hand effect of suing tobacco companies: rich lawyers. An arbitration panel has awarded a total of $8 billion to attorneys who successfully sued tobacco companies on behalf of three states. The WP reports that the individual award of $3.4 billion, which will be split among the 11 firms that represented Florida, is the largest fee ever in U.S. history. The NYT reports that 5 Texas lawyers will split fees of $3.3 billion. Cigarette makers are responsible for paying the attorneys.
An inside WP piece reports that the National Security Agency has an extensive file of information about Princess Diana. While the article explains that the excitable British press has gone ballistic over the NSA’s refusal to share the files’ contents, the real story is the NSA practice of monitoring electronic transmissions around the globe and screening them for targeted search terms like “Saddam Hussein.” Last January, the European Parliament wrote, “within Europe, all e-mail, telephone and fax communications are routinely intercepted by the United States National Security Agency.” A subject of much controversy in Europe, NSA eavesdropping has gone practically unnoticed (and perhaps underreported) in the U.S.. The WP cites an intelligence expert who says the reason for U.S. apathy is that the NSA is barred by law from targeting Americans, even when they are abroad.