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USA: PRESIDENT CLINTON IMPEACHMENT TRIAL: SENATE DEBATE

English/Nat The U-S Senate is debating behind closed doors whether or not to dismiss the Clinton impeachment trial. Senators deliberated into the night in a rare secret session as the White House, confident of Clinton's ability to win eventual acquittal, announced it would ignore a written list of questions by Republicans. The Senators had earlier rejected an effort by Iowa Democrat Tom Harkin, who wanted to open the deliberations to the public, by a 57-to-43 vote, largely along party lines. Under current rules, the Senate deliberations themselves - as opposed to the arguments by the two sides - take place behind closed doors. Democratic Senators Tom Harkin of Iowa and Paul Wellstone of Minnesota wanted the debate out in the open. Their bid drew the support of 40 Democrats and three Republicans. But opposed were 52 Republicans and five Democrats. SOUNDBITE: (English) "On this vote, the yeas are 43, the nays are 57. Two-thirds of those Senators voting, and a quorum being present not having voted in the affirmative, the motion is not agreed to." SUPER CAPTION: Chief Justice William Rehnquist Immediately after the vote, Majority Leader Trent Lott moved to shut the chamber doors. And Senators went on to debate a Democratic attempt to dismiss all charges against President Clinton and bring his impeachment trial to an end. At a news conference shortly after he lost his bid, Harkin said fears that an open session would lead some senators to play to the television cameras were unfounded. SOUNDBITE: (English) "I believe this is a very somber and solemn event. I believe Senators will rise to the occasion. I don't believe there would be that grandstanding. Quite frankly, in closed session where no record is kept and no one can talk about it, that's when it can get irresponsible. I believe Senators will be more responsible if people are watching and tend to be more bipartisan if the public's watching." SUPER CAPTION: Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat, Iowa Earlier in the day, House prosecutors argued against dismissing the articles of impeachment. Representative Lindsey Graham asked Senators to let him prove his case against Clinton. SOUNDBITE: (English) "I have told you the best I can, there is no doubt these are high crimes in my opinion. This is a hard decision for our country, but when I first spoke to you I thought we'd be better off if Bill Clinton left office. I want a chance to prove to you why. Give me a chance to prove to you why I believe this. Why my colleagues voted our conscience to get this case to where it should be - not swept under a rug, but in a trial to disposition. I have lost no sleep worrying about the fact that Bill Clinton may have to be removed from office because of his conduct. I have lost tons of sleep thinking he may get away with what he did." SUPER CAPTION: Representative Lindsey Graham, Republican, House Manager The lead Republican house prosecutor, Henry Hyde, told Senators the matter would never be resolved if they dismissed the case now. SOUNDBITE: (English) "I don't think this whole sad, sad drama will end. We will never get it behind us until you vote up or down on the articles. And when you do, however you vote, we'll all collect our papers, bow from the waist, thank you for your courtesy, and leave, and go gently into the night. But let us finish our job. Thank you." SUPER CAPTION: Representative Henry Hyde, Republican, House Manager In arguing for dismissal, Clinton's attorney said bringing the trial to an end was best for the country. SOUNDBITE: (English) SUPER CAPTION: Nicole Seligman, Clinton's Attorney Even before Byrd made his dismissal motion, Republican Leader Trent Lott declared he had enough Republican votes to defeat it. You can license this story through AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/metadata/youtube/768035e789c534995f40ff6ad6d49749 Find out more about AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/HowWeWork
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