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White House relieved after Clinton testimony goes public

By John King/CNN

WASHINGTON (September 21) -- There was palpable relief inside the White House Monday after top aides watched President Bill Clinton's sworn testimony in the Monica Lewinsky investigation.

One senior aide intimately involved in White House damage control efforts said "those who hate him will find every reason to keep on hating him, but I am so relieved."

The aide said he had read portions of the written transcript of the president's testimony in advance and had worried about seeing the president appear angry and overly evasive on videotape. But the aide said it was his view that Clinton's conduct would not cause any major shift in public opinion.

The aide predicted a backlash against Republicans for releasing so much graphic sexual material in the 3,183 pages of grand jury testimony and related evidence Monday. The aide said he did not believe there was anything in the videotaped testimony to incite new fears among congressional Democrats.

Another top White House political adviser said he and several associates -- Democrats and Republicans -- watched the entire testimony and "everyone said it wasn't that big a deal."

This source said he had been "prepared for the worst" including a glimpse at the president's legendary temper. But the aide predicted "no one in the middle group (of voters) in America, based on what they saw in that testimony, is going to rush to the phone and demand impeachment or resignation."

Still, the White House continues to expect Republicans to push for an impeachment inquiry and sources concede the documents paint a far more troubling picture of the president's conduct than testified to in his August 17 account.

Many junior White House aides were glued to their television sets in the West Wing and across the compound in the Old Executive Office Building where much of the White House staff works.


Investigating the President

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Monday, September 21, 1998

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