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Sunday, March 15, 1998 Published at 23:33 GMT

World: Americas

Clinton accused of lying under oath

Linda Tripp being interviewed by Ed Bradley on CBS TV

Former White House volunteer Kathleen Willey has provided a graphic description of being groped outside the Oval Office by President Bill Clinton and has accused him of lying under oath about it.

Clinton's lawyer, Robert Bennett, says president denies allegations (0' 13")
The former White House volunteer's appearance on the US network CBS's "60 Minutes" programme on Sunday evening marked the first time a woman who worked at the White House has gone public with televised allegations that Mr Clinton made improper sexual advances.

[ image: Robert Bennett:
Robert Bennett: "a pack of lies"
Robert Bennett, Mr Clinton's private lawyer, said the president was "absolutely bewildered" by Ms Willey's assertions and adamantly denies them.

"He cannot understand why this is being said, " Mr Bennett said on the CBS programme.

Part of the Paula Jones testimony

Paula Jone's lawyer, Donovan Campbell, says Willey will help his case (0' 23")
Ms Willey's allegations were first released on Friday as testimony by attorneys for Paula Jones, a former Arkansas state clerk who has charged that Mr Clinton had her brought to a hotel room in Little Rock and asked her for oral sex.

Ms Willey, 51, said she had gone to see the president about a paid job when her family was in financial crisis, and he had hugged her and put her hand on his aroused genitals.

On television she said that she was amazed at the "recklessness" of the act.

She said that she considered slapping his face, but thought, "I don't think you can slap the president of the United States like that."

Mr Clinton said, "I emphatically deny it, it did not happen," in a deposition also made public on Friday by Paula Jones's lawyers.

He said that he hugged Ms Willey and may have kissed her on the forehead in an effort to console her, but insisted the incident was not sexual.

Pressured to keep quiet

Ms Willey also said she was offered a job and told to keep quiet.

She said on the CBS programme that she was pressured by the president's personal lawyer, Robert Bennett, who suggested that she would need a criminal lawyer.

[ image: Linda Tripp: made secret tapes of Lewinsky]
Linda Tripp: made secret tapes of Lewinsky
"The insinuation to me was that Mr Bennett was implying that I was going to face some kind of a criminal charge for perjury," she said.

She added that "I didn't and I don't" need a criminal lawyer.

"Out to get you"

And she accused Linda Tripp, who told a reporter about the alleged incident between Ms Willey and Mr Clinton against Ms Willey's wishes, of threatening revenge against her and "everyone else" in the White House.

Ms Willey said she chose not to make Mr Clinton's action public.

"It was just horrible behaviour on the part of the president," she said. "And I did not think it was my place to make it public knowledge."

A few months after the incident, Ms Willey said she had a conversation with Ms Tripp, who had been transferred to the Pentagon from her job at the White House.

Ms Willey said that Ms Tripp told her: "'You're here because the president wants you here. And they want me out of here because I know what happened."

Ms Willey said that Ms Tripp was "very upset, very bitter. And she ended the conversation by saying, 'I'm going to get you, and ... everyone else in this place, before this is all over.'"

CBS reported that Ms Tripp's lawyer denied she had said that she was out to get anyone.

It is also reported that another former White House volunteer is set to testify before the Grand Jury on Tuesday with more graphic information about Mr Clinton's personal life.

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