Clinton Says He Regrets Tone Of Lewinsky Speech
DeLay: House should stay in session to handle Starr's report
The Clintons arrive at the White House on Sunday
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WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Aug. 30) -- President Bill Clinton returned from his Massachusetts summer vacation Sunday -- to a city still parsing and reparsing the details of the Monica Lewinsky controversy.
On Sunday, a Democratic congressman who met with Clinton while he was on vacation said the president expressed regrets about the tone of the speech he gave Aug. 17, in which he acknowledged an inappropriate relationship with Lewinsky but also took a swipe at Independent Counsel Ken Starr.
"The president admitted to us that the timing of his speech was probably not the best, that he wished he had more time to reflect and get his emotions together before he addressed the American people," said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) on NBC's "Meet The Press."
But on the Sunday talk shows, Republican leaders continued to pound away at Clinton's conduct and what they see as his lack of contrition. Some also took a harder line than House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) who earlier in the week said that perjury in the Lewinsky case alone wouldn't be enough for impeachment.
"If he lied under oath in a court proceeding with a criminal intent necessary to have committed perjury ... no matter what the subject is, sex is not the issue here," said Rep. Bill McCollum (R-Fla.) on "Meet The Press." "If he did that, that alone, it seems to me, is sufficient to impeach."
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) also took issue with comments Clinton made during his vacation in a speech about forgiveness, in which he couched his comments in humorous terms.
"Here is the president of the United States who blatantly lied to [the American people,} who sent his wife, [Secretary of State] Madeleine Albright [and] others high in the administration out to repeat the lie that he knew was a lie. It's not a humorous matter," Hatch said on "Fox News Sunday."
"He really does need to level with the American people and let them know he has a problem and he's going to work on it. And he ought to apologize," Hatch said. "He shouldn't joke about it."
The third-ranking Republican in the House, Rep. Tom DeLay of Texas, said that if Starr sends a report soon, the House should stay in session to deal fully with it, rather than putting the matter off until next year.
"If the president is going to put us through this trauma, then we need to get it over with as soon as possible," DeLay said on "Fox News Sunday." "We need to stay in session for as long as it takes to get this behind us."
Also on Sunday, the most senior member of the House, Michigan Democrat John Dingell, said that Starr's entire report should be made public, although some secret grand jury testimony possibly might be withheld.
"This is the public's business -- some of the most important business that the Congress is going to do during my entire career," Dingell said on "Fox News Sunday." "And I think that the public should be brought into it, should know what's going on, should know all of what is happening ... so that they can assess their judgment both of the Congress and of the president and of Mr. Starr."
Dingell also made it clear that Democrats in Congress will make an inquiry into alleged abuses by Starr's investigators, including allegations that they leaked secret grand jury testimony.
"Mr. Starr and his associates and staff have to be interviewed and have to be deposed extensively," he said.
Another leading Democrat, House Minority Whip Rep. David Bonior, also of Michigan, said Starr should not include a litany of salacious details in the report.
"It ought to be considerate of the president's family. It ought to be considerate of the larger American family," said Bonior on CBS's "Face The Nation." "We ought not to get in another round of tabloid journalism."
Despite comments earlier in the week by House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt that impeachment was a possibility and that the president's conduct was "reprehensible" -- comments widely interpreted as an attempt to move Democrats away from the president -- Bonior said he believes Clinton "has the support of the Democrats in our party."
"More importantly, he has the support of the American people," Bonior said.
In other developments in the Lewinsky controversy, New Yorker magazine is reporting that book publisher HarperCollins has offered $2 million to Lewinsky for the rights to her story. The supermarket tabloid Star has offered $1 million.
However, the magazine said there has been no indication Lewinsky is willing to sell her story.
Also, Time magazine is reporting that a Harvard-trained literary editor and lawyer, Stephen Bates, is helping Starr prepare his report to Congress.
Time quotes an unidentified acquaintance who describes Bates, who began working with Starr's team back in 1995, as a "genuinely moral conservative, religious-based, but not an ideologue."
Bates is literary editor at Wilson Quarterly, a Washington-based international review published by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
Also, Vernon Jordan, the president's longtime friend and a key figure in Starr's investigation, traveled back to Washington on Sunday with the first family aboard Air Force One.
He was seated across from first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and was observed having what was described as a "very animated conversation" with her. When the plane reached Andrews Air Force Base, Jordan exited out the back to avoid cameras.