WASHINGTON — Republicans have agreed to a limited bipartisan inquiry into charges that Theodore B. Olson, President Bush's nominee to be solicitor general, was not truthful in testimony about his role in a controversial magazine investigation of Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) and Sen. Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democrat on the committee, have agreed to investigate the matter, including interviewing witnesses, Leahy spokesman David Carle said Friday night.
Earlier this week, the Judiciary Committee deadlocked in a 9-9 vote on the Olson nomination, prompting Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) to announce that he will try to force the nomination to the Senate floor through a "discharge" motion.
The scope of the inquiry is still being worked out, but Republicans agreed to at least a modest investigation to avoid what could prove to be a politically damaging debate over Olson. As solicitor general, he would argue on behalf of the United States before the Supreme Court.