This day in history: Jan. 14, 1999

President Clinton's impeachment trial is underway in the Senate.
2:49 | 01/11/19

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Transcript for This day in history: Jan. 14, 1999
Good evening the president's impeachment trial in the senate as a full throttle now. This afternoon the Republican team began to present chapter and verse. Why they believe the president is absolutely unequivocally guilty of obstructing justice and perjury. And should therefore be removed from office as a lot of ground to cover tonight so first let's get right to the capital and ABC's Linda Douglass. House Judiciary Chairman Henry Hyde focused on the perjury charge. Playing to the senator sense of history to their belief that a swarm out is sacred he reminded them of how England's sir Thomas More told his daughter 450 years ago. The school had chosen to be executed a rather than swear to a false oath. When a man takes and all make. He's holding his own self in his hands. Like water. And if he opens his fingers them. He needn't hoped to find himself again. The house managers over arching message on the perjury charge was that failure to convict the president could lead to widespread lying in courts around the country. Members of the senate what you do over the next few weeks will forever. Affect the meaning of those two words I do. Our entire legal system is based on the courts being able to find the truth. Truth telling is the single most important judicial precept underpinning. This great system of justice. We have. But when the managers began reciting the familiar allegations against the president sometimes repeating each other some of the senators got restless. One began organizing his desk drawer another took his pulse and still another was seen popping jelly beans. And all day long behind the scenes a partisan battle over whether to call witnesses was brewing. The democratic senate leader accused of Republicans and secretly plotting with house managers on calling witnesses even though the senate had agreed to put that decision off this. I'm very disappointed and somewhat surprised that there has been that kind of activity this early it's certainly violates. The spirit of the agreement that we just all agreed to last week. And today for the first time there was serious talk among Republican senators over whether and how to get the president to testify. Once said mr. Clinton could be forced to appear. I think ultimately the senate does have the power. Under the impeachment rules. Compel them president to come in. And most Republican senators don't wanna go that far they don't want to have that kind of battle but some do want to invite him to come. GOP strategist says that has the potential to embarrass the president if he declines in Peter tonight the Republican Party is out taking a poll. See if the country wants the president to testify.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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