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Saturday, September 12, 1998 Published at 03:12 GMT 04:12 UK

Starr report damns Clinton

Laughing matter: The Clintons relax at an official function

Click here to access the BBC's mirror site of the Starr Report

A Greek tragedy? Clinton's journey from denial to repentence
The United States is in shock after the explosive Starr report which could bring down the Clinton presidency listed 11 grounds for impeachment.

Independent counsel Kenneth Starr's 445-page document lists 10 sexual encounters between the president and the former White House volunteer Monica Lewinsky.

In his efforts to hide the affair, Bill Clinton "pursued a strategy of deceiving the American people and Congress" for seven months, the report adds.

Mr Starr alleges perjury, obstruction of justice, interfering with witnesses and abuse of presidential power.

[ image: Starr: Damning allegations]
Starr: Damning allegations
Shortly after the report's publication, Mr Clinton appeared confident and relaxed at a gathering of Irish-Americans, where he received a humanitarian award for his efforts in the Northern Ireland peace process.

He made no comment about the report but, flanked by his wife Hilary, told his audience that he had "work to do".

But as Capitol Hill's decision makers took the damning report home to scrutinise its contents, President Clinton's lawyer David Kendall went on the offensive, describing the dossier as "personal and not impeachable."

The BBC's Brian Hanrahan: "The report's details are scandalous"
Mr Kendall, who had earlier released a 78-page rebuttal document, said: "The president has acknowledged his wrongdoing.

"No amount of gratuitous allegations about his relationship with Ms Lewinsky can alter the fact that he did not commit perjury, he did not obstruct justice, he did not tamper with witnesses and he did not abuse his powers of office."

'Lies under oath'

In the damning opening to his report Mr Starr alleges that Mr Clinton lied under oath to the grand jury to hide the truth about his affair.

[ image: Lewinsky: DNA tests matched]
Lewinsky: DNA tests matched
His attempts to cover up the relationship were "inconsistent with his constitutional duty" as president of the United States, he adds.

It alleges that the president did have a sexual relationship with Ms Lewinsky, even under the definition of a sexual relationship given by his own lawyers, contradicting his earlier testimony.

Mr Starr's lists nine instances of oral sex and alleges that on one occasion Mr Clinton and Miss Lewinsky had oral sex while the president spoke on the telephone to congressmen.

The BBC's Stephen Sackur reports from Washington
In another sexual encounter, the pair used an unlit cigar as a prop.

It goes on to reveal that DNA tests carried out by the FBI almost indisputably proved that semen found on one of Ms Lewinsky's dresses matched a sample provided by the president.

Summing up, Mr Starr writes: "Perjury and acts that obstruct justice are profoundly serious matters.

"When such acts are committed by the president of the United States, we believe those acts may constitute grounds for an impeachment."

Report online

The report's publication on US Government Websites caused a huge increase in Internet traffic as users around the world attempted to access the report.

After initial jams, the report was republished on mirror sites around the world, including at the BBC, in what many have hailed as a triumph for the medium.

Although the US House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to publish the report, the task of deciding what to do with it now falls on the Judiciary Committee.

Its members may decide to hold their own hearings and have the power to begin impeachment hearings in the US Congress.

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Internet Links

The House of Representatives' Report Page

Library of Congress mirror

Starr Report: BBC mirror site

Government Printing Office mirror

The White House: Rebuttal of the Starr Report

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