Impeachment Digest

Trial In The Senate

January 08, 1999

Train of prosecutors stays on the track, at least at the start

At 9: 35 a.m. yesterday, before articles of impeachment were formally presented to the Senate, the 13 House Republicans who are to prosecute the president gathered in the office of House Majority Leader Dick Armey. Through the opened doorway, the men could be spied talking and laughing.

At 9: 58, wearing a stony expression, the silver-maned House Judiciary Committee chairman, Rep. Henry J. Hyde, emerged, a senior aide at his side, to lead the line of Republican prosecutors. Two by two -- "just like the animals," quipped one Republican aide -- they walked purposefully through the Capitol, past gawking tourists, to the Rotunda.

There, at the Capitol's center -- where House and Senate symbolically join -- the prosecutors were met by James W. Ziglar, the Senate sergeant-at-arms.

"Hi, Jim, how are you?" Hyde asked as they shook hands. Ziglar nodded and said, "This way, sir."

They continued over to the Senate, trailed by a security detail.

Their return, 20 minutes later, was a bit less organized.

The train of House prosecutors resembled nothing so much as a set of Russian wooden dolls, each smaller than the last, from the towering Hyde and James Sensenbrenner at the front, decreasing in seniority and size, to the slight Lindsey Graham walking alone at the end.

Opening of trial leaves student unmoved

Shelley Brenner came to the Capitol yesterday expecting more than pomp and historic fanfare.

An 18-year-old college student from Philadelphia, Brenner jumped from bed at the Lincoln Suites Hotel at dawn and shook awake her friend and vacation companion, Jenny Lehrman, 19.

The women had not expected to be first in line -- arriving in the brisk cold at 6: 45 a.m. -- for some of the 50 short-term public seats in the Senate gallery. "We expected there to be hundreds of people," Brenner said.

Yet after bearing witness to the opening of the second presidential impeachment trial in history, Brenner was decidedly unmoved. "It was anti-climactic -- the roll-call of some senators," she said.

Annoyance for spectator who loses temporary seat

"Frustration!" Larry Gragg roared as he emerged from the Capitol.

A history professor from Rolla, Mo., Gragg had gotten in line at 8 a.m. He stood for an hour and a half in the cold. Once inside, the holder of a temporary pass to the visitors' gallery, Gragg wasn't able to see the entire roll call before an usher informed him that his time was up.

"They were on Lieberman, and they asked us to leave," he said.

Rehnquist must take his strolls indoors

Chief Justice Rehnquist broke a longtime habit yesterday. For years, the 74-year-old Rehnquist has strolled around the Supreme Court building about 9 a.m. on most days for a bit of exercise. It has seldom drawn attention. That is, not until earlier this week, when camera crews glued themselves to Rehnquist, trailing him for the morning stroll.

Supreme Court police were dismayed, fearful that Rehnquist could become vulnerable if the wrong person knew that he took these walks unprotected. So yesterday, the chief justice took his walk indoors, strolling the corridors of the court building.

Sarbanes gives staff passes; Mikulski's to go to public

Each senator receives four special passes to the gallery, and there was speculation about who was to receive these passes from the members. Campaign contributors? Lobbyists? Friends?

Actually, said Jesse Jacobs, a spokesman for Maryland Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, all four of Sarbanes' passes went to his staff yesterday.

According to an aide in the office of Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, another Maryland Democrat, her daily passes will be handed out to Maryland constituents at her office on a first-come, first-served basis.

Sun staff writers David Folkenflik, David L. Greene and Lyle Denniston contributed to this report.

Pub Date: 1/08/99

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