Although the Senate Whitewater Committee canceled plans to privately question President Clinton's chief accuser Friday, he still is scheduled to testify in a public hearing next week, the panel's chairman said.
With only a week left in its investigation, the committee late Thursday canceled plans to question former Arkansas banker David Hale behind closed doors. Hale refuses to speak unless ordered by a court or given immunity by the committee.Committee Chairman Sen. Alfonse D'Amato, R-N.Y., told ranking Democrat, Maryland Sen. Paul Sarbanes, on Thursday evening he had decided against summoning Hale.
D'Amato said Friday he and Sarbanes agreed to cancel Hale's appearance because the Democrats had rejected D'Amato's proposal to use a special procedure aimed at getting Hale to testify before the committee goes out of business next Friday.
D'Amato noted that Hale, whom the committee had subpoenaed, reaffirmed Thursday that he would not testify without a grant of immunity.
"The committee is continuing to explore options to obtain Mr. Hale's very important testimony," D'Amato said in a statement. He said he would ask the panel to vote on Tuesday to grant Hale immunity so that he could testify publicly on Wednesday.
"The subpoena smoked him (Hale) out," said David Carle, a spokesman for the committee Democrats. "The name of his game is blanket immunity, and he will blatantly manipulate the committee to get it."
D'Amato had been pushing for Hale's testimony and for the committee to grant him limited immunity, which would mean his Senate testimony could not be used against him in other cases.
Hale, who began serving a 28-month federal sentence last Friday for defrauding the federal government through his lending company, has said he would assert his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
A state prosecutor in Arkansas disclosed he plans to charge Hale by July 16 with stealing $150,000 from a burial insurance company he controlled.