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GOP Pushes Release of Clinton Tape

September 15, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The White House braced itself Tuesday for the release of damaging new evidence as House Republicans pushed to make public a videotape of President Clinton’s grand jury testimony, said to show a chief executive uncomfortably answering pointed questions.

Lawyers familiar with the testimony, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the videotape shows the president at times angry with graphic questioning from lawyers in independent counsel Kenneth Starr’s office. At one point, these sources said, Clinton accused prosecutors of criminalizing his private life.

A few times, Clinton appears caught off guard by questions and struggles uncomfortably to answer, the lawyers said. And many times when pressed to give more details, Clinton refers back to the legalistic statement his lawyers prepared to answer questions about the sexual nature of his relationship with Ms. Lewinsky.

Laboring to make public as much of Starr’s evidence as possible, House Republicans want the videotape released as possibly as early as this week. Democrats are objecting, saying Clinton is being treated unfairly because no other witness’ testimony was taped.

The videotape would likely be played and replayed by stations around the country if released. Clinton’s defenders fretted that the images of the president, sometimes angry and defiant and at other times splitting legal hairs, would be at odds with his attempts in recent days to express contrition and sorrow over his relationship with Ms. Lewinsky.

The behind-the-scenes struggle between the two parties over the videotape came as Republican leaders brushed aside Democratic talk of mere censure of the president.

Censure is ``not an option that holds a lot of attraction,″ House Majority Leader Dick Armey of Texas told reporters, saying he had talked to rank-and-file GOP House members about the issue. ``We believe that committing perjury and obstruction of justice, these are feats of enormous consequence.″

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