Clinton quiet on Lewinsky; forceful on Iraq
February 6, 1998
Clinton reaffirms his stance on the Lewinsky case
Web posted at: 2:29 p.m. EST (1929 GMT)
In this story:
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Clinton on Friday repeated his
assertion that he never asked anyone to lie about the Monica
Lewinsky matter, but he wouldn't elaborate on his
relationship with the former White House intern, saying he
shouldn't comment while an investigation is under way. (189K/17 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)
Clinton, at a White House news conference with visiting
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, tried to focus attention
on international issues, including the showdown with Iraq
over U.N. weapons inspections, but he was forced once again
to defend himself in the Lewinsky case.
The president declined to say what he would tell Lewinsky if
he were to talk to her in the aftermath of allegations that
they had a sexual relationship and he urged her to lie about
And he criticized those "leaking unlawfully" grand jury
testimony in the case, and replied "never" when asked if he
had ever thought about resigning.
"I would never walk away from the people of America and the
trust they placed in me." (315K/29 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)
Blair supported the president, saying Clinton's "pretty
impressive record" should overshadow any allegations.
On Iraq, the two leaders agreed that efforts to persuade
President Saddam Hussein to allow the arms inspectors to
resume their work must be backed by the credible threat of
|Sounds from the news conference
|Clinton on Iraqi President Saddam Hussein|
||276K/26 sec. AIFF or WAV sound
|Clinton on the possiblity of military strike|
||341K/31 sec. AIFF or WAV sound
|Blair on the use of force in the Persian Gulf|
||236K/22 sec. AIFF or WAV sound
|Blair summarizes issues discussed with Clinton|
||360K/33 sec. AIFF or WAV sound
"On Iraq, we stand together," Clinton said referring to
Blair. "Saddam Hussein must know that we are determined to
prevent him from threatening his neighbors and the world with
weapons of mass destruction."
Britain is one of the only nations to openly support Clinton
in his threats of military action against Hussein, sending an
aircraft carrier and warplanes to the Gulf to join the
formidable U.S. force already there.
Blair repeated an announcement made just hours earlier in
London that Britain is sending eight Tornado jet warplanes to
Kuwait in case they are needed.
"These are ground attack and reconnaissance aircraft," Blair
said. "It will take place over the next few days."
The news conference came during Blair's first official visit
to Washington since he was elected last May.
Clinton noted that diplomatic efforts were still under way to
persuade Saddam to back down and allow U.N. inspectors free
access to suspected chemical and biological weapons sites,
adding: "The prime minister and I would both prefer a genuine
But, Clinton added, "if Saddam does not comply with the
unanimous will of the international community we must be
prepared to act, and we are," Clinton said.
Clinton said there was more international support for the
tough U.S. and British line than it may appear.
"I believe there is more agreement than at first it appears
about the necessity to push this thing through to the end,"
Blair also stressed his desire for "a diplomatic solution,
but it must be a diplomatic solution based on, and fully
consistent with, the principles which we have set out ... We
have of course to prepare in case diplomacy cannot work."
On the issue of Lewinsky, Clinton was asked whether his
silence on some aspects of the case was leaving the American
people "in the dark."
Clinton responded: "I have told the American people what I
think is essential for them to know about this and what I
believe they want to know. What I'm doing is going on with my
work and cooperating with the investigation. I do not believe
I should answer specific questions."
The news conference unfolded in the face of reports that the
president had summoned his secretary, Betty Currie, to the
White House the day after his deposition in the Paula Jones
sexual harassment case to go over their recollections of
Lewinsky's contact with Clinton.
The president rejected any notion that he tried to mold his
secretary's testimony and said he was heartened when Currie's
lawyer, Larry Wechsler, issued a strong denial of any
"I never asked anybody to do anything but tell the truth,"
Blair and Clinton shake hands after the news conference
When CNN's Wolf Blitzer, noting that Lewinsky's life has been
"changed forever," asked Clinton what he would say to the
24-year-old woman, the president appeared to be considering
an answer during a long pause. But ultimately he declined to
"That's good," he said in evaluating the question, a comment that drew
laughter from reporters. "But at this minute, I'm going to
stick with my position and not comment."
Without identifying independent counsel Ken Starr by name,
Clinton suggested that prosecutors are violating a federal
judge's gag order by talking to reporters about the case.
"I'm honoring the rules of the investigation" by refusing to
provide details of his relationship with Ms. Lewinsky,
Clinton said. "And if someone else is leaking unlawfully out
of the grand jury proceeding, that is a different story."
He said he has limited his comments on the matter "even
though the judge's orders have been routinely violated by the
other side in the case."
Asked if he agreed with his wife that a "vast right-wing
conspiracy" is behind the allegation of a sexual relationship
with Lewinsky, Clinton laughed and noted: Hillary Rodham
Clinton is "hardly ever wrong."