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Clinton provides responses to 81 questions

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, November 27) -- President Bill Clinton responded Friday to 81 questions from the House Judiciary Committee, once again acknowledging that he misled the American people about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky, but forcefully denying he lied under oath.

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Clinton prefaced his answers by saying, "For me, this long ago ceased to be primarily a legal or political issue and became instead a painful personal one, demanding atonement and daily work toward reconciliation..."

"I hope these answers will contribute to a speedy and fair resolution of this matter," Clinton wrote.

Clinton's answers to some of the more crucial questions, asking if he lied under oath, referred the committee back to his grand jury testimony and his answers in his deposition in the Paula Jones civil rights case.

"That testimony was not false and misleading" was a phrase repeated several times throughout the president's answers.

Asked to admit or deny he spoke with Betty Currie on December 28, 1997, about gifts he gave to Lewinsky, Clinton said, "I do not recall any conversation with Ms. Currie on or about December 28, 1997, about gifts I had previously given to Ms. Lewinsky. I never told Ms. Currie to take possession of gifts I had given Ms. Lewinsky; I understand Ms. Currie has stated that Ms. Lewinsky called Ms. Currie to ask her to hold a box."

Asked about supposedly leading comments he made to Currie about his relationship with Lewinsky, Clinton said, "When I met with Ms. Currie, I believe that I asked her certain questions, in an effort to get as much information as quickly as I could, and made certain statements, although I do not remember exactly what I said."

Asked about conversations with aide John Podesta and others in which he misled them about his relationship with Lewinsky, Clinton said, "As I have previously acknowledged, I did not want my family, friends or colleagues to know the full nature of my relationship with Ms. Lewinsky."

In a statement the president's lawyer, David Kendall, said, "The president has responded to the chairman's questions in good faith."

Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde released a statement saying, "The committee will now carefully review those responses. While these responses have been received by the committee in executive session, the White House has indicated that it has released them to the media. This will allow the committee members to comment publicly on the document."

Hyde had warned in a letter Wednesday he would urge the panel to subpoena the White House if "complete and specific" answers to the questions about allegations stemming from the Lewinsky affair were not submitted by Monday.

"As the chairman knows full well, we will be providing our response on Friday, so I'm not sure what the point of his letter is," said White House spokesman James Kennedy, before the answers were made public.

Hyde, an Illinois Republican, told Clinton in his letter that he would set aside a day, as early as December 8, for Clinton or his attorney to present their side of the case.

Panel reportedly drafting impeachment charges

Meanwhile, staff members of the Judiciary Committee are drawing up articles of impeachment against Clinton for "possible consideration" by the committee, a Republican member of the panel told CNN Thursday.

"The case begins to speak for itself," the committee member said, adding that the proposed articles are in the drafting stage and have not yet been signed off by Hyde.

But a high-ranking Judiciary Committee source cautioned that the process remains in the "preliminary stage." The source told CNN the committee must still take "three depositions, hold a hearing" and wrap up intense fact-finding missions.

"We're still in he fact-finding stage. We're not ready to develop (impeachment) language yet. It's still in the preliminary stage," the source said.

A congressional source close to the committee said the articles under discussion would allege perjury, obstruction of justice and, on the basis of the president's repeated assertion of legal privileges, abuse of power.

White House: 'The process is beyond absurd'

A senior White House official dismissed reports about the proposed articles of impeachment, saying, "You can get a good case of sea sickness" trying to follow the Republicans through the impeachment inquiry.

"The process is beyond absurd," the White House official said.

The articles are being drawn up by majority investigative counsel David Schippers and Thomas Mooney Sr., the committee's chief of staff, with Hyde overseeing the work, according to a report in The New York Times.

Although many lawmakers have been quoted as saying they believe a motion of censure rather than articles of impeachment would gain more votes in the House, the Republicans said the committee majority is following its own course and that there has been little if any coordination with the party leadership.

Perjury vote too close to call

The committee is moving steadily along the path toward recommending impeachment even though moderate Republicans and some aides believe a floor vote on a single count of perjury would be too close to call.

Congressional sources have told CNN that while a perjury charge has a slim possibility of passage on the House floor, the chances are much weaker for garnering votes on obstruction of justice and abuse of power counts.

CNN's Bob Franken, John King and David Ensor contributed to this report.

Investigating the President


Friday, November 27, 1998

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