The House Judiciary Committee Friday decided to release tens of thousands of pages of documents covering President Clinton's involvement with former White House intern Monica S. Lewinsky, including edited versions of taped conversations between Lewinsky and her former friend Linda Tripp, and the grand jury testimony of key witnesses like Tripp, Clinton secretary Betty Currie and the president's friend, Vernon Jordan.
The documents, including redacted transcripts of the Tripp tapes, were to be sent to the Government Printing Office Monday and were expected to be published late next week, probably Thursday, committee sources said. The edited audio tapes themselves will be released sometime after that.Committee Republicans billed the committee meeting as a model of bipartisanship, a "great day," as Rep. Steve Buyer, R-Ind., described it, because both parties agreed in the majority of cases on what material should be released and what material withheld.
Democrats agreed with the grudging acknowledgment of Ranking Minority Member John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., that "there is some improvement in bipartisanship," but Conyers described the GOP turnabout as "a modest retreat in the face of public opinion polls showing that people disapprove of what they are doing."
It was also clear after the meeting that there was no resolution of contentious issues that have split the committee, with Republicans rejecting Democratic motions to give Clinton an advance look at the new evidence and refusing to debate the meaning of impeachable offenses until an impeachment inquiry actually begins.
A new squabble also erupted when Democrats lost a motion demanding that independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr turn over any additional material he has on the Lewinsky matter as well as information describing how the attorney general authorized him to release grand jury material and investigate Lewinsky in the first place.
Minority spokesman Jim Jordan said the motion had become necessary because Republican staffers had expressed no interest in accepting Starr's offer to show the remaining Lewinsky material to a bipartisan committee delegation. Starr noted, as part of the offer extended this week in a letter to Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt, D-Mo., that he had already turned over all evidence he found relevant.
Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., suggested the Republicans' refusal to approve the motion showed that they were not serious about obtaining extra - and possibly exculpatory - material about the case Starr might have left out: "There's nothing preventing us from asking for it," Frank said.
Rep. Charles T. Canady, R-Fla., said, however, that the Democrats had poisoned Conyers' motion by including in it a demand for information on Starr's mandate: "We're not opposed to be seeking more information," Canady said. "But there are those who want to conduct an investigation of the investigator. That would be inappropriate."