WASHINGTON – As the House Judiciary Committee debates draft articles of impeachment against President Clinton, Maryland’s House delegation is split over the issue.
Before Clinton’s lawyers even finished arguing the president’s case Thursday, four of Maryland’s eight representatives had made up their minds.
Three of the four Maryland Republicans in Congress are likely to vote for impeachment if the issue reaches the full House, as is expected.
The fourth Republican member of the delegation, Rep. Constance Morella, R- Bethesda, “will not make a public statement until she votes next week,” said her spokeswoman.
Democrats in the delegation were not exactly rushing to the president’s defense Thursday.
Only Rep. Albert Wynn, D-Largo, said he would definitely vote against impeachment, but would not say how he might vote on an alternative censure motion. Rep. Benjamin Cardin, D-Baltimore, “will not make up his mind until he actually sees the articles of impeachment,” said his spokeswoman.
Reps. Steny Hoyer, D-Mitchellville, and Elijah Cummings, D-Baltimore, could not be reached for comment.
Aides to the Republicans who back impeachment were more than happy to comment Thursday.
Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Frederick, “believes impeachment, as a practical matter, is the appropriate, constitutionally approved measure as a rebuke for wrongful actions by the president, actions harmful to our system of government,” said his spokeswoman, Lisa Wright.
Bartlett would vote to impeach because he “believes that the president acknowledged actions that would warrant impeachment,” said Wright. A censure resolution would be unconstitutional, she said.
“Censure is not an option that the Constitution provides to the House and he [Bartlett] finds that it is constitutionally prohibited,” said Wright.
Rep. Robert Ehrlich Jr., R-Timonium, also believes the president deserves to be impeached. Ehrlich Chief of Staff Steve Kreseski said the congressman plans to vote for the articles of impeachment, “because the president is guilty.”
Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, R-Kennedyville, is “leaning in support of voting for impeachment and that’s probably how he will vote,” said his press secretary, Cathy Basset.
Wynn has been against impeachment all along and his spokeswoman said that position has not changed. But Elena Temple, the spokeswoman, said Wynn is not sure whether the president should be forced to suffer a lesser punishment.
Wynn’s vote on censure “would depend on what form the censure would take,” Temple said. She said Wynn would not be in favor of a formal apology because the congressman feels the president “has already done that,” Temple said.
But “a fine might be something he would consider,” Temple said.
The House Judiciary Committee drafted articles of impeachment Wednesday against the president on perjury in the Paula Jones deposition, perjury before the grand jury, obstruction of justice and abuse of power.
— Capital News Service reporters Kayce T. Ataiyero, Virginia F. McCord and Matthew Chin contributed to this report.