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Sunday, December 20, 1998 Published at 11:18 GMT

Clinton: I will not resign

President Clinton - once again - comes out fighting

President Clinton: I will not resign
A defiant President Bill Clinton told the American people he would rise above partisan politics by serving out his term as president.

With a bullish grin, he vowed to serve in office "until the last hour of the last day of my term".

[ image:  ]
He was speaking on the darkest day of his six-year term in office, after being impeached by the House of Representatives.

Mr Clinton is set to go on trial in front of the Senate, barring a last-minute deal for censure.

Rise above rancour

He accused his political opponents of trying to undo his work to build a more cohesive America.

"We must stop the politics of personal destruction," he told assembled Democrat supporters and press in the White House Rose Garden.

"We must get rid of poisonous venom of obsessive animosity and uncontrolled anger. That is not what America deserves, that is not what America is about."

Clinton on attack

Before facing the press, Mr Clinton was grinning and joking with his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and a coterie of supporters.

BBC Washington Correspondent Paul Reynolds: Clinton wants to avoid a trial
But at the podium, he lashed out at the Republican opposition. He accused them of turning away from a "reasonable" response for his conduct with the former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

Mr Clinton said he would look to the Senate to find a constitutional and fair way to punish him and bring the matter to a speedy conclusion.

Democrats praise Clinton

[ image: Dick Gephardt: Said he would back the president to the last]
Dick Gephardt: Said he would back the president to the last
As if to buoy Mr Clinton, House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt and Vice President Al Gore praised the president's achievements and resilience.

Mr Gephardt called the impeachment a "disgrace to our country and our constitution".

"The fact that a vote as important as this occurred violated the spirit of our democracy," he said.

Mr Gore restated his faith in the president and said the proceedings amounted to the "saddest day" he had known in Washington.

"The vote does a great disservice to a man who will be regarded in the history books as one of our greatest presidents," he said.

"But we do not have to wait for history. Let us live up to the ideals of this season. Let us heal this land, not tear it apart. Let us move forward not towards bitter and angry division."

Two charges passed

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The House voted in favour of two impeachment charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. Another two articles - for perjury and abuse of power - were voted down.

Republicans largely ignored calls by their Democrat counterparts in the House of Representatives to punish the president with censure.

The impeachment votes came after a bitter and partisan two-day debate in the House.

Mr Clinton is the first president this century to be impeached.

The first charge of perjury in front of a grand jury was passed by 228 to 206.

The charge of obstruction of justice was passed by 221 to 212. Both votes were split down partisan lines.

The House voted down articles that accused Mr Clinton of perjury in the Paula Jones civil case and abuse of power.

Full vote:

Article 1: Yes - 228 No - 206
Article 2: Yes -205 No - 229
Article 3: Yes - 221 No - 212
Article 4: Yes - 148 No - 285

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