Today's Papers

Max Senate Comedy

The impeachment trial continues to lead all around. Today’s big story is the Senate’s closed-door debate of a motion to summarily dismiss the charges against President Clinton. The debate went until nearly 10 PM Washington time last night and will continue again today. The secret session came about after a motion to hold all impeachment deliberations in open session was defeated. The New York Times lead editorial calls the shuttered approach “an affront to the public.”

The papers report that with the matter of whether or not to call witnesses hanging in the balance, much of yesterday was taken up by senators trying to gin up a fast-track strategy that would bring the proceedings to a close expeditiously without witnesses. But, say the papers, none has the votes yet. And so the Senate Republicans are encouraging the House Republican managers to cut down their proposed witness list. The Washington Post says the House team appears ready to do so, with a list including Vernon Jordan, Betty Currie, and White House aides John Podesta and Sidney Blumenthal. The NYT says the House managers are leaning toward calling Jordan and away from calling Currie. The Post adds that there has been some interest in calling Dick Morris, whom the paper reveals, was debriefed by prosecution staffers on Sunday. But in the end, says the paper, such interest waned. One wonders why, given that the WP says one of the things Morris had to say in his dry run was that President Clinton expressed concern to Morris about the gifts he’d given Lewinsky.

The NYT, WP and Los Angeles Times all report that Trent Lott submitted ten questions to President Clinton, and that the White House says neither Clinton nor anybody else there will provide answers. The LAT sees the stonewall as a sign that Clinton is confident he’ll win the case.

The papers report that one idea being kicked around by senators is one vote on whether the charges against Clinton are true and another on whether he should thereby be removed from office. The NYT offers the best explanation of why this is attractive to Republicans: This would be a stringent form of censure, but the finding of facts would only require 51 votes, which means it’s doable.

Everybody fronts yesterday’s 5-4 Supreme Court ruling that the 2000 Census must be an actual headcount, not the statistical sampling that’s alleged to be more accurate. The main political impact of the decision is that it will affect how many congressional seats each state gets, and perhaps will also affect which party’s members occupy them, because the conventional wisdom is that sampling favors Democrats, by being more able to include folks in cities and recent immigrants.

The WP front reports that U.S. aircraft enforcing the no-fly zone over southern Iraq fired missiles at an anti-air site and that Iraqi officials claim eleven civilians were killed when one of them went wide of the mark. Later, says the paper, the Pentagon acknowledged that a brand-new type of video-guided missile may have missed its intended target and hit houses instead. Significantly, the U.S. attack was preemptive, part of a tougher effort to suppress Iraqi anti-air activities without waiting for full-blown attacks against U.S. planes. USA Today fronts the Vatican’s criticism of the U.S. campaign in Iraq, and the incident is inside at the two Times.

Another story receiving wide play–front at USAT and the NYT, flagged in the Wall Street Journal news box–is Intel’s decision to climb down from its previous plans to ship its new Pentium III chip with the capacity to allow Web sites to identify a computer. The feature has been called “cookies on steroids,” says USAT, inspiring privacy concerns among many netizens.

The WSJ reports a new development in the music business in England, inspired by a recent rash of charges of song ripping-off–plagiarism insurance. Huge legal fees involved in successful defenses against such charges by the likes of Andrew Lloyd Webber are cited as creating the market. The policies–underwritten by Lloyd’s of London–provide coverage for all damages and defense costs in such cases. One special requirement: taking out the policy must be kept a secret, to avoid inviting lawsuits.

Today’s WP answers some questions tendered here yesterday regarding the financing for Monica’s sudden blowing into town. Her travel expenses, including luxury accommodations at the Mayflower Hotel, are being paid by Ken Starr until such time as she is called to testify at the impeachment trial. Then Congress pays for them.