Gore: Clinton innocent of affair accusations
WASHINGTON (Reuters, Jan. 23) -- Vice President Al Gore, in his first comments on the escalating crisis swirling around President Clinton, said he believed Clinton was innocent of allegations of having sex with a White House intern and encouraging her to lie about it.
"The president has denied the charges, and I believe it," Gore told a small group of newspaper columnists in his White House office, the Washington Post reported Friday.
"He has said he will cooperate fully with the independent counsel. And you will see that that is exactly what he does," the paper quoted him as saying.
"Beyond that, he is not only the president of the country, he is my friend," he added.
Gore also praised the president for being able to maintain his focus on the daily agenda "in spite of challenges in policy and political ideological areas, in spite of attacks of various kinds. He has maintained his focus now."
Gore's remarks, which came in a previously scheduled interview, were a marked departure from the low profile he and his political associates have been keeping since the allegations first surfaced early Wednesday.
The stakes are high for Clinton as well as his second in command, Gore, especially since some lawmakers are already discussing the possibility of impeachment proceedings if the allegations are proven true.
Clinton issued a sweeping denial of allegations involving former White House intern Monica Lewinsky, 24, as special prosecutor Kenneth Starr vowed a prompt, thorough investigation of the matter.
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