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Friday, September 18, 1998 Published at 17:02 GMT 18:02 UK

Clinton video to be published

Committee chairman Henry Hyde was heckled as he announced the decision

"A constitutional milestone has been passed:" John Simpson reports
The US House Judiciary Committee has voted to release videotapes of President Clinton's testimony to the Grand Jury investigating his affair with Monica Lewinsky.

The committee will also publish 2,800 pages of additional testimony.

The material is to be made public on Monday at 1300GMT (1400BST).

A White House spokesman said the decision was unfair, and raised serious doubts about the direction in which the committee is heading.

Additional evidence released to the public is likely to include transcripts of Ms Lewinsky's own testimony to the Grand Jury.

This is said to involve explicit details of her relationship with Mr Clinton which were not included in the report by special prosecutor, Kenneth Starr.

The videotapes will be subjected to 120 cuts before they are made public, according to committee chairman Henry Hyde.

Philippa Thomas: "The news the president was dreading"
The decision came at midday Washington time on Friday, after wrangling between Republican and Democrat members of the committee had postponed a decision scheduled for Thursday.

While the Republicans, who make up a majority on the committee, insist that the decision was made by consensus. Democrats are insisting that it was forced through by the Republicans.

US journalist Ann Compton considers the possible fall-out from the release of the tapes
"We had a vigorous and spirited debate, but it was civil," said Mr Hyde, who is a Republican, speaking to the press immediately after the end of the debate.

"I would say that the spirit of bipartisanship is still alive and flourishing," he said.

"There was a general view amoing Democrats not to reveal anything and a general view among Republicans to view as much as possible, consistent with responsible redactions to protect people whose names and vital statistics and involvement in this was very periferal."

Democrats dissent

A Democrat committee member: "A serious mistake and a dangerous precedent"
But as he spoke, he was heckled by Democratic committee members. Democrat Barney Frank hit back with the words: "If this is bipartisanship, then the Taleban win the medal for religious tolerance."

[ image: Barney Frank:
Barney Frank: "If this is bipartisanship, then the Taleban win the medal for religious tolerance"
Mr Frank's views reflected the predictions of many observers, that the debate had been reduced to a party-political affair, with Republicans pushing for the publication of the evidence so as to cause maximum embarrassment to Mr Clinton, and Democrats wishing to save face for the presidency by releasing as few details as possible.

Sexually explicit evidence

Former assistant US attorney Russell Duncan: Clinton's lawyers have blundered
A committee member said some of the material would be sexually explicit, but that this was inevitable in order to test the president's insistence that he had not lied at any stage.

The committee considered "privacy issues, law enforcement issues, as well as decency issues," committee member Asa Hutchinson told the BBC while the debate was still in progress.

[ image: President Clinton now faces yet more embarrassing evidence]
President Clinton now faces yet more embarrassing evidence
Democrats argued that releasing the four-hour taped testimony - which according to media reports shows an angry and evasive Mr Clinton - would serve no public purpose and simply humiliate the president.

They are said to fear the use of clips from the video in Republican election campaign advertisements.

Tom Carver: Risk for Republicans in publishing the evidence
Many Republicans argue the American people should have the right to see the evidence for themselves. They also say that this is in line with a resolution passed by the House of Representatives last week.

With polls saying that 70% of Americans do not want the tapes made public, the release of the tapes could yet backfire on the Republicans.

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White House: Second Rebuttal

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