Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah - who serves on the impeachment-overseeing House Judiciary Committee - says if he were President Clinton, he'd resign to spare the nation from what now promises to be long and painful impeachment proceedings.
And Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, says if independent counsel Kenneth Starr's report is as damning as rumored, "even Democrats will march down there (to the White House) and demand several things . . . including resignation."They - and other Utah members of Congress - are anxious to see Starr's report. But they say they do not look forward to what could be months of painful proceedings that they expect to follow - unless Starr's report pushes Clinton to resign.
"It all depends what Starr's report says, and we'll find that out tomorrow," said Hatch, who has helped lead GOP pressure on Clinton. The House is expected to vote Friday to release Starr's report summary to members and the public via the Internet.
"If it lays out the case against the president crisply and clearly, things could move fast" - with even Democrats pushing for Clinton to resign to prevent his troubles from hurting them in an election year, Hatch said.
"But if it has a lot of gray areas, due process requires a thorough process - and that will take time," Hatch said. "There is also the possibility - maybe the probability - of his lawyers making this a fiasco by tying up Congress in lengthy delays in minutia and motions."
Cannon said, "If this were me, I would resign. The behavior he has already acknowledged is shameful. Far more important is that his actions have subjected America to a perception of weakness so that its enemies - and they are many - are emboldened."
Cannon said resignation would also spare the country from an "ugly" process likely to delve for months into sordid details of Clinton's relationship with intern Monica Lewinsky - which he says could continue to weaken America in foreign eyes.
"But I don't believe the president sees it that way," and Cannon doesn't expect him to resign. So Cannon is bracing for a long inquiry.
Cannon and Hatch say it will take time to go through and evaluate the 18 cartons of evidence that Starr collected over four years. If evidence warrants it, hearings and debate on impeachment could take weeks or months more.
"I don't see how we will be able to finish before the November elections," Cannon said of House work on possible impeachment - essentially an indictment for later Senate trial on whether to remove the president from office.
Cannon said the House Judiciary Committee held some preliminary meetings to prepare for such an inquiry, and it also foresaw a long process to ensure fairness and thoroughness.
It prompted Cannon to reassign his former chief of staff, Steve Taggart, to work full-time on impeachment issues for him. Taggart is known in Utah political circles for his tough-nosed research into the backgrounds of opposing candidates.
Cannon said he believes the House might not adjourn as normal a month or so before the election - but may remain in session, and even return after the election to allow members to finish impeachment hearings and inquiries this year.
"What he (Clinton) has admitted so far is reprehensible, but that doesn't mean that those acts are criminal or impeachable," Cannon said - and added that determining whether they are will require time.
Rep. Merrill Cook, R-Utah, said he is withholding any judgment of Clinton until he sees Starr's report. "As someone who may have to vote (on impeachment), I need to learn as much about the facts as possible and not go by media statements."
But he said he is optimistic that any impeachment review may move quickly because leaders of both parties are stressing the need for "statesmanship and decorum so we don't turn the House of Representatives into the Jerry Springer Show. I hope that will move the process along quickly and fairly."