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Friday, November 20, 1998 Published at 04:18 GMT

Starr puts his case

Role reversal: Kenneth Starr is sworn in to give evidence

Kenneth Starr has publically accused President Bill Clinton of a concerted plan to lie and cover up his affair with Monica Lewinsky.

The BBC's Stephen Sackur: "He dismissed charges that he'd become obsessed"
In his two-hour statement to the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, the independent counsel told the impeachment hearing - only the third ever in US history - that Mr Clinton's behaviour had been "inconsistent with his duty to carry out the law".

Speaking calmly minutes after a partisan row which heard him described as a "federally paid sex policeman", he told the packed hearing that the president had abused the machinery of government.

"The evidence suggests that the president repeatedly tried to thwart the legal process," he said.

[ image:  ]
"In the course of these efforts the president misused his authority and power as president and contravened his duty to faithfully execute the laws.

He accused the president of "choosing deception" on at least six occasions to cover up the affair.

"He did not expressively tell Miss Lewinsky to lie, he did not have to do so," he said.

Mr Starr alleged that the president developed an understanding with Ms Lewinsky that they would both make "false statements" to hide the relationship.

Kenneth Starr: "The president failed to tell the truth"
"At that moment, the president's relationship with a subordinate employee was transformed into an unlawful attempt to thwart the judicial process," said Mr Starr.

"This was no longer an issue of private conduct."

The president had abused his position as the head of government to ensure that his staff and administration delayed, obstructed and actively sought to prevent investigation of his behaviour, the special prosecutor said.

[ image: Hyde brushed off demands]
Hyde brushed off demands
This included exercising "executive privilege" to block investigators.

Mr Starr further alleged that the president's own legal advisers had been sucked into the White House lies as Mr Clinton stepped up efforts to protect himself.


Following the statement, Mr Starr faced questioning from lawyers representing both Democrats and Republicans.

Concluding questioning for the Democrats, Abbe Lowell suggested that Mr Starr's report had been compromised by his own behaviour, including alleged leaks to the media.

But Mr Starr replied: "The facts (of the case) are as we have found them.

"Not one of your questions (to me) suggests that the president was not involved in offences that (members) now have to evaluate."

Tense opening

Henry Hyde: "No one is above the law"
Before Mr Starr made his statement, Chairman of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Henry Hyde said that the hearing would answer questions of "high consequence" for constitutional government.

Speaking during tense scenes between the Republican majority and the Democrats, he said: "What does lying under oath do to the rule of law?"

"Does the law belong to some people where others are immune?"

Democrat John Conyers said Mr Starr had "crossed the line into obsession" and labelled the eight month investigation a waste of millions of dollars.

Mr Hyde also rejected a proposal to extend cross-examination of Mr Starr.

Democrat John Conyers: "Starr has crossed the line into obsession"
"The hearing today is not a trial or the White House versus Mr Starr or the Republicans versus the Democrats," he said.

"This is a step we take to carry out our constitutional duty."

Mr Clinton is currently in Japan on a tour of the Asia-Pacific region.

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