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Tuesday, January 27, 1998 Published at 12:32 GMT


Hillary Clinton defends her husband

Hillary Clinton agreed to the interview before the Lewinsky scandal broke

Hillary Clinton denies the allegations "unequivocally" (1'32")
Hillary Clinton put up a strong defence of her husband on American television on Tuesday as a sexual scandal threatens his presidency.

Looking assured and comfortable she answered the questions put to her by the network anchor man.

She denied again that there had been any sexual relations between Bill Clinton and the former White House aide, Monica Lewinsky.

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She rejected the allegations "unequivocally". She went on: "I've just been through this so many times. We've been accused of everything, including murder."

When NBC Today show host Matt Lauer began, "Where's there's smoke...," she quickly finished, "There's no fire."

The truth "will come out" she said. The best thing to do at present is "be patient and take a deep breath".

Hillary Clinton attacks her critics

She refused to talk about the specifics of the allegations, and she rounded on political opponents whom she accused of trying to destroy Bill Clinton. "When all of this is put into context some folks are going to have a lot to answer for," she said.

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Mrs Clinton was interviewed alone on the NBC network.

She had agreed to go on NBC's breakfast programme several weeks ago to talk about childcare and the president's State of the Union address.

This is not the first time Hillary Clinton has had to come to her husband's defence at a crucial moment.

In 1992 when Gennifer Flowers, a cabaret singer, claimed she had had a 12-year affair with Mr Clinton, it nearly destroyed his presidential chances.

Hillary Clinton rescued her husband by going on television to demonstrate her support, making the now famous reference to the country song "Stand by your man".

Clinton prepares his big speech

The president is busy preparing for the annual State of the Union address which he will deliver on Tuesday.

He is not expected to refer to the crisis in his speech, although the possibility has not been ruled out.

In the meantime, lawyers for Miss Lewinsky have given prosecutors an outline of her story of the alleged relationship with Mr Clinton.

She is willing to testify, providing she is granted immunity from prosecution.

Clinton's lawyers increase the pace

Lawyers for President Clinton have sought to bring the Paula Jones sexual harassment trial forward by asking a judge to set an earlier trial date.

The trial is scheduled for May 27. In court papers filed on Monday, the president's lawyers said that it was in "the nation's best interest" to achieve a "speedy resolution" of the case.

The attorney for Paula Jones, James Fisher, called the request "a little puzzling," considering the president's lawyers fought for two years to delay the case.

But If the president's lawyers can undermine key witnesses such as Linda Tripp and Monica Lewinsky they could be of less value to Kenneth Starr's criminal investigation.

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