Impeachment: A NewsHour Special – Rep. Bob Livingston Resigns – December 19, 1998

MARGARET WARNER: Paul, Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole just sent out another sort of public letter yesterday saying even though he would have voted to impeach in the House, he still thinks some sort of censure deal is the way to go. Do you think Dole’s going to play an active role in this? Do you think he has clout if he decides to do so?

PAUL GIGOT: Oh, he has some personal contacts among senators, obviously. He was their leader for a time on the Republican side, and he has some moral authority as a former Republican candidate, well respected figure. So there may be people who heed him. I think it’s a little easier to have censure in the Senate because you’re now ñ than it was in the House ñ because you’re now in the punishment stage; you’re now in determining how the ñ how the case ultimately comes out. He has been impeached. And I think that in terms of heeding the Constitution, nobody doubts that the Senate can do what it wants. I mean, there was some debate about what the House could do, but nobody doubts the Senate can dismiss the case if it wants. It can agree to some kind of plea bargain, or it can go up to it and remove the president.

NORMAN ORNSTEIN: Margaret, this is where there are now two crucial figures who will come to the floor ñ Trent Lott, the Senate Majority Leader and Tom Daschle, Senate Democratic leader, who’s also very close to President Clinton. Trent Lott will have a major role in determining whether the Senate now moves to a trial and then after that point reaches a different stage, or whether something else can happen. And the events of the next week or ten days are going to be very important in determining whether or not he makes the political judgment that maybe we should not hold a trial or short circuit in some fashion and ñ or whether we orchestrate a way of getting through this.