A couple of key votes are expected today at President Clinton’s impeachment trial, with hopes dwindling for a quick end to the proceedings this week. Republicans are expected to defeat Democrat Robert Byrd’s motion to dismiss the case. A largely party-line vote is also expected on a motion to depose witnesses. Senators met privately last night amid a renewed push for a bipartisan trial timetable. If such a deal is worked out, the trial could end by mid-February, perhaps sooner.
Yesterday, House prosecutors put in a proposed witness list with just three names: Monica Lewinsky, presidential friend Vernon Jordan, and White House aide Sidney Blumenthal. The three would most likely face videotaped depositions. Senators could watch the tapes and then vote on whether to bring witnesses in for live testimony.
White House sources say President Clinton’s legal team is resigned to witnesses being questioned in his Senate impeachment trial. Now Clinton’s lawyers are working on a plan to counter the possible testimony. The strategy includes preparations for calling their own witnesses. The presidential lawyers would want time to review new evidence and interview witnesses.
Officials now say the confirmed death toll from Monday’s earthquake in Colombia has reached 700 but could climb to as many as 2,000, as many bodies remain buried under rubble. Officials are desperate for refrigerated trucks and generators for hospitals to keep the bodies from decomposing. The Red Cross is asking for tents and tarps to shelter the homeless, estimated now in the hundreds of thousands. The magnitude-6.0 quake devastated cities and village across western Colombia, leveling buildings and homes. In the meantime, aid from the U.S. is poised to head south from Queens, New York, to Little Havana in Miami. Cardboard boxes are being left on sidewalks and in storefronts to collect donations. A team from the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue’s Urban Search and Rescue Task Force will help sift through the destruction. President Clinton telephoned Colombia’s president Tuesday to express his sympathy and condolences.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright today defended the right of U.S. and British pilots to protect themselves while patrolling the no-fly zones over Iraq, after the Pentagon acknowledged yesterday that a U.S. missile strayed off its target and hit a residential neighborhood in the southern city of Basra. Albright said Iraq had repeatedly violated the no-fly zone and attacked pilots. “We regret the stray missile in Basra that killed some civilians, but we believe that it is essential for the no-fly zones to be protected and for our pilots to be able to defend themselves when they are attacked,” she said.
An international convention prohibiting torture, which Chile, Spain and Britain have all signed, is becoming the focal point of arguments in the House of Lords over whether Augusto Pinochet’s arrest should stand. The former Chilean dictator’s lawyers argued Tuesday that the International Convention Against Torture doesn’t give outside nations the automatic right to step in and prosecute officials accused of torture. Lawyers for Spain, Amnesty International and other human rights groups contend it does. The hearing, which is in its second week, resumes today. If the lords rule Pinochet’s arrest is legal, he faces extradition to Spain on charges of genocide, torture and kidnapping.
Jury deliberations begin today in a closely watched abortion case in Portland, Oregon. Abortion rights activists are suing abortion opponents behind the Nuremberg Files website and posters titled “The Deadly Dozen” that they say encourage violence against abortion providers. An eight-person jury will decide the $200 million lawsuit. In yesterday’s closing arguments, defense lawyers likened their clients to civil rights defenders. Lawyers for abortion providers suggest the defendants are terrorists who use the site to threaten and intimidate. The site got national attention last fall after a New York doctor, Dr. Barnett Slepian, whose name was on the site, was shot and killed by a sniper in his home. Jurors heard from doctors whose names appear on the website and who testified they live in constant fear of being attacked. One of the doctors appeared in court wearing a bulletproof vest.
And more fallout from the Olympic bribery scandal. A fourth International Olympic Committee member has resigned in the wake of the corruption allegations. Kenya’s Charles Mukora says he resigned in principle. He says he was an innocent victim of circumstances, but the IOC says Mukora received $34,000 in illegal payments from Salt Lake City officials. Over the weekend, the IOC had named Mukora as one of nine members who received an illegal payment from Salt Lake when it was trying to win a bid to host the 2002 Winter Games.