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Monday, September 21, 1998 Published at 18:14 GMT 19:14 UK

Clinton cool under questioning

Bill Clinton at the start of his sworn testimony

Click here to watch highlights of Clinton's video testimony

World Affairs Editor John Simpson: "Good at presenting himself as a victim"
The unprecedented spectacle of an American president being intimately questioned about his personal life became a compelling reality with the broadcast of Bill Clinton's Grand Jury testimony.

Americans stopped in their tracks to glimpse the long-awaited video of Mr Clinton, but those expecting to see a riled and irritated president on the ropes were disappointed.

Clinton: No sexual intercourse
Mr Clinton remained largely unruffled during four hours of sometimes intrusive questioning by members of Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr's team.

[ image: A measured performance]
A measured performance
At one point he vehemently denied asking Monica Lewinsky to lie about their affair after she had been subpoenaed in the Paula Jones case.

He also explained why he denied having sexual relations with Ms Lewinsky when testifying in the Jones case in January.

Later, the White House issued a statement attacking the release of the video and saying it did not contain any new grounds for impeachment proceedings.

Clinton: It's a political witchhunt
Mr Clinton started off by swearing an oath to the court and then admitting a relationship with Monica Lewinsky that was "wrong".

But he soon became evasive when asked about his definition of "sexual relations" and said he had been the victim of a muck-raking campaign.

Alongside the video evidence, supplementary documents to the Starr report were also released. (You can download these from the BBC's mirror site by clicking here.)


[ image: Clinton: admits Lewinsky relationship]
Clinton: admits Lewinsky relationship
Facing accusations of perjury and witness tampering, he denied trying to manipulate Ms Lewinsky when she was forced to testify in the Jones case.

"I can tell you this I never asked her to lie," said Mr Clinton.

"I told her she had to get a lawyer. I certainly didn't want this to come out if I could help it. I was concerned about that. I was embarrassed about that. I knew it was wrong.

"Did I want her to execute a false affidavit? No I did not."

Sending a message

Clinton: "They did not constitute sexual relations as I understood that term"
He also denied that he wore a tie given to him by Ms Lewinsky in order to "send her a message" on 6 August this year, when she gave evidence to the Grand Jury.

Shown a picture of him on the day, with a slight grin Mr Clinton said: "I do not believe she gave me this tie."

If she had given him the tie, he said: "I had absolutely no thought of this in my mind when I wore it."


Dressed in a dark suit and looking composed, he earlier read a short prepared statement in which he said he had been alone with Ms Lewinsky on several occasions and his conduct had been "wrong".

Clinton: Details of his meetings with Lewinsky
But he insisted their relationship did not involve sexual intercourse or "sexual relations" within the definition set out in the Paula Jones case.

Later, lawyers came back to the issue of how Mr Clinton defined sexual relations when he denied them in the Jones deposition.

Sexual relations

He was asked whether touching or kissing breasts or touching genitalia constituted sexual relations.

[ image: A smile as the marathon session winds up]
A smile as the marathon session winds up
A complex legal argument ensued and Mr Clinton was again challenged about the lack of clarity of evidence he gave in the deposition.

"Look, I'm not trying to be evasive here," he told the prosecutor. "I'm trying to protect my privacy and my family's privacy."

Some time later he explained why he thought oral sex had not fallen into the definition of sexual relations supplied at the Jones hearing.

"If the deponent [Mr Clinton] is the person who has oral sex performed on them then the contact is not with anything on [the deposition] list but with the lips of another person," he said.

"It seems to me self evident that's what it is."

'Wrecking ball'

Earlier in the footage, he accused his political opponents of taking a "wrecking ball" to damage him, and this explained why he had been "not particularly helpful" to Paula Jones's lawyers.

At times raising his left hand to point or hammer home a statement, he said he had been fitted up by his political opponents.

"The real reason why they [Paula Jones's lawyers] were zeroing in on me was they were trying to get anything so that they could hurt me politically," said Mr Clinton.

"They were trying to take a wrecking ball to me and do some damage."

He said he "deplored" the work of the Jones lawyers but "I was determined to walk through the minefield of this deposition and I believe I did."

Mr Clinton also said he was "still not sorry" for giving presents to Ms Lewinsky.

"I give a lot of gifts to people. There's no big deal in this for me," he said.

As the tapes of Mr Clinton were being broadcast on networks across America, the president received an overwhelming vote of confidence from world leaders at the United Nations in New York.

Statemen including Nelson Mandela and Tony Blair rose to their feet to greet the American president who had come to address them.

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Transcripts of the Starr investigation (BBC mirror) list of Clinton testimony feeds

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White House rebuttal

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