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Friday, August 14, 1998 Published at 22:26 GMT 23:26 UK

The case against the president

Taped conversations could force President Clinton from the White House

Since the beginning of the year, Washington has been awash with rumours of President Clinton's alleged affair with a White House intern. But does it really matter? Could this really lead to impeachment? News online has this guide to the events so far.

What are the main allegations?
President Clinton is accused of having an affair with a young White House aide, Monica Lewinsky. More seriously, it is alleged that President Clinton lied under oath when questioned about the affair and told Miss Lewinsky to do the same.

How serious is this?
Very. Previous allegations focused on Mr Clinton's activities before he became president. These allegations involve recent conduct with the 21-year-old aide while he was president. More importantly, the allegations, if proved, would lay him open to charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.

When was the affair supposed to have taken place?
The affair is said to have begun in late 1995 when Monica Lewinsky was working as a volunteer in the White House. It allegedly continued for a number of months.

Where does perjury come in?

[ image: New allegations put the president at risk]
New allegations put the president at risk
On January 7, 1998, Miss Lewinsky was questioned, under oath, by the lawyers for Paula Jones - who at the time was pursuing the president for alleged sexual harassment.

During the testimony, Ms Lewinsky denied the affair. President Clinton also denied the affair when questioned under oath on January 17 by Ms Jones' lawyers. If this denial proves to be untrue, both could be charged with perjury.

... and obstruction of justice?
It is alleged that Mr Clinton and a friend, Vernon Jordan, advised Miss Lewinsky to lie under oath about the affair.

How did the allegations surface?
The allegations came to light through a recent series of taped conversations between Lewinsky and another former White House staff member, Linda Tripp.

What is in the tapes?
Reports from Newsweek magazine suggest the tapes show that Miss Lewinsky talked to Linda Tripp about an affair but they do not confirm or disprove that she was told to lie under oath by President Clinton or Vernon Jordan.

What does this have to do with Whitewater?
Kenneth Starr, the Independent Counsel began his investigations into the president looking into land deals in Arkansas.

His investigation was later widened to take in other alleged scandals including the White House travel office sackings, the misuse of FBI files on political opponents and, now, the exact nature of the Clinton-Lewinsky liaison.

Is there a vendetta?

[ image: The latest scandal:  Monica Lewinsky]
The latest scandal: Monica Lewinsky
There may well be political and personal forces at work behind these allegations, just as it is alleged there were in the Paula Jones case.

  • Kenneth Starr has been working for years to try to make charges stick against Mr Clinton, but had little success in finding evidence which implicated the president personally.

  • Linda Tripp is a former employee of the Bush administration who had a number of run-ins with staff at the White House before being moved to the Pentagon.

Where will it all end?
If the charges of perjury and obstruction of justice can be proved, something that is far from clear at the moment, President Clinton could be impeached by Congress and removed from office. Whatever happens, the allegations remain a thorn in the side of the remaining months of Bill Clinton's presidency.

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