Clinton Braces for Release of Tape
Sep. 19, 1998
WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Clinton's defenders braced Saturday for the release of a mountain of new detail from the Starr investigation, as a senior House Republican said no candidate should use the president's videotaped grand jury testimony in fall campaign commercials.
Several blocks from the White House, government printers worked through the weekend to prepare 2,800 pages of written material for Monday's scheduled release. The documents include a written transcript of Monica Lewinsky's testimony detailing her accounts of numerous trysts with the president in the Oval Office suite.
The videotape of Clinton's testimony, which runs more than four hours, also is to be made public Monday. Already, broadcast outlets were making plans for an unprecedented airing of images of a president being questioned under oath about sexual relations with a young aide.
``Playboy would not be allowed to put that kind of pornography on the airwaves,'' Democratic Rep. W.G. Hefner of North Carolina said after visiting the White House.
``And I don't know what it does to build a case because the case is already there. It's been admitted to,'' he added. ``That, in my opinion, is just to embarrass the president.''
Republicans counter the tape is important evidence in Kenneth Starr's report, which cited 11 potentially impeachable offenses, some involving perjury.
``The president himself has admitted he lied, but he doesn't admit to perjury,'' Rep. Bob Livingston, R-La., said in an interview on CNN's ``Evans, Novak, Hunt & Shields.''
``I think that the jury, in essence the Congress, has to look at the evidence. The American people are effectively the jury as well, and they have to look at the evidence.''
Clinton testified in a deposition in the Paula Jones lawsuit last winter that he had not had ``sexual relations'' with Ms. Lewinsky. In his grand jury testimony last month, he said he had been truthful in his earlier deposition but also acknowledged an ``inappropriate'' relationship with Ms. Lewinsky.
The Republican-controlled House Judiciary Committee voted along partisan lines on Friday to release the written evidence and videotape, the next installment from 18 boxes of material submitted by Starr. The balance of the material, minus anything withheld by the committee, will be made public by Sept. 28 under the terms of legislation passed by the full House.
Some Judiciary Committee members have said they expect the panel will likely meet in early October to decide whether to recommend a formal impeachment inquiry to the House.
There was no indication of what the scope of such an inquiry would be. Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill., chairman of the committee, and other Republicans have suggested in recent days that it could be expanded beyond the issue of Clinton's relationship with Ms. Lewinsky and his efforts to hide it.
Much of the congressional attention to Starr's evidence has focused on the videotape, being released in the shadow of midterm elections.
Livingston, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, was asked in his interview whether he thought a candidate who made use of images from the tape would be out of bounds.
``I would think they would be,'' he replied. Some Democrats fear an image of Clinton flashing anger at questions, or appearing evasive, could prove harmful to him.
In bipartisan response to an article this week about a long-ago extramarital affair by Hyde, the leaders of the Republican and Democratic House and Senate campaign committees announced agreement that they would not finance candidates who make purely personal attacks on their candidates. There was no mention, though, of candidates who make use of the videotape.
Hyde himself telephoned Speaker Newt Gingrich before the story appeared on the Internet and offered to resign as chairman, according to congressional sources. These sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Gingrich turned aside Hyde's offer.
Clinton himself made no mention of the scandal surrounding his presidency as he delivered his weekly radio address, seeking to focus attention, instead, on a coming tax-cut battle in Congress.
But Hefner and Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., who were present for Clinton's remarks, later criticized the pending release of the Starr material.
Watt noted that Starr's evidence had been developed for legal purposes, and said, ``Unless you think the president ought to be tried in the press or tried in the court of public opinion rather than tried by the standards set out in the Constitution, I just think that there's no justification for it.''
Ms. Lewinsky has maintained a low public profile since reaching an immunity agreement with Starr's office and testifying before the grand jury.
One of her attorneys, Plato Cacheris, told Greece's private Antenna television channel, ``She is not eager to be going through all these procedures.''