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 TIME on politics Congressional Quarterly CNN/AllPolitics CNN/AllPolitics - Storypage, with TIME and Congressional Quarterly
Investigating The President

President: 'I have repented'


WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Sept. 11) -- As the House of Representatives debated the process for releasing the details of his relationship with Monica Lewinsky, a tearful President Bill Clinton told a White House breakfast for religious leaders Friday that he has "a broken spirit."

"I have been on quite a journey these last few weeks to get to the end of this, to the rock-bottom truth of where I am," Clinton said in his most emotional and dramatic statement since the affair with Lewinsky became public. "I don't think there is a fancy way to say that I have sinned."

Agreeing with his critics that he was not "contrite" enough during his initial Aug. 17 statement, Clinton said, "It is important to me that everybody who has been hurt know that the sorrow I feel is genuine. First and most important, my family, my friends, my staff, my cabinet, Monica Lewinsky and her family and the American people. I have asked all for their forgiveness."

His comments were the first time the president has publicly apologized to Lewinsky. Clinton went on to describe the journey he has been on during the weeks since his first public admission, saying that he has finally repented.

"I have repented," Clinton said. "I must have God's help to be the person that I want to be. A willingness to give the very forgiveness I seek. A renunciation of the pride and the anger, which cloud judgment, lead people to excuse and compare and to blame and complain."

Clinton said he will continue to lead the country, but he will also seek "pastoral" help to repair the damage his recent conduct has wrought.

The president added that he will "instruct my lawyers to mount a vigorous defense using all available, appropriate arguments."

Rep. Henry Hyde  

But Clinton said the "legal language must not obscure the fact that I have done wrong."

His legal team has been working around-the-clock to prepare its public defense to Starr's report and is expected to submit a preliminary rebuttal report to the House.

In an agreement reached between Clinton's personal attorney David Kendall and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde, that report will be made an exhibit of the Starr report and published on the Internet immediately after the Starr report is released.

Kendall also plans to quickly review the Starr report and deliver a public reaction sometime Friday afternoon, the sources said.

Aides worked late into the night on the preliminary outline of the Clinton Administration's take on the Starr investigation. A more thorough analysis will be completed later.

The president legal team lost an effort Thursday to delay the public release of Starr's report.

White House counsel
Charles Ruff

Kendall, White House counsel Charles Ruff and White House Deputy Chief of Staff John Podesta met with Hyde and John Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, to ask for 48 hours to view the report.

Although Hyde declined Thursday to give the president's team even an hour of advance viewing, negotiations continued Friday but CNN has learned that Clinton's lawyers will not be allowed to view much before it is actually released on the Internet.

A copy of the report will be given to White House officials at the same time Hyde and Conyers get their copies, CNN has been told.

The report is expected to be made public on the Internet soon after the House votes.

CNN's John King contributed to this report


Friday September 11, 1998

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