Clinton: 'No improper relationship'

January 22, 1998|By FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE

Here are excerpts from President Clinton's interview with PBS' Jim Lehrer:

Lehrer: The news of this day is that Kenneth Starr, independent counsel, is investigating allegations that you suborned perjury by encouraging a former White House intern, to lie under oath in a civil deposition about her having had an affair with you.

Mr. President, is that true?

Clinton: That is not true. That is not true. I did not ask anyone to tell anything other than the truth. There is no improper relationship. And I intend to cooperate with this inquiry. But that is not true.

Lehrer: "No improper relationship" -- define what you mean by that.

Clinton: Well, I think you know what it means. It means that there is not a sexual relationship, an improper sexual relationship, or any other kind of improper relationship.

Lehrer: You had no sexual relationship with this young woman?

Clinton: There is not a sexual relationship; that is accurate. The -- we are doing our best to cooperate here, but we don't know much yet. And that's all I can say now. What I'm trying to do is to contain my natural impulses and get back to work. I think it's important that we cooperate, but I want to focus on the work at hand.

Lehrer: All right. You had no conversations with this young woman, Monica Lewinsky, about her testimony or possible testimony before -- in giving a deposition?

Clinton: I did not urge -- I did not urge anyone to say anything that was untrue. That's my statement to you. And beyond that --

Lehrer: Did you talk to her about it? Excuse me, I'm sorry.

Clinton: -- I think it's very important that we let the investigation take its course. The -- the -- but I want you to know that that is my clear position. I didn't ask anyone to go in there and say something that's not true.

Lehrer: Another one of the allegations is that you may have asked, or the allegation that's being investigated is that you asked your friend Vernon Jordan --

Clinton: To do that --

Lehrer: -- to do that.

Clinton: I absolutely did not do that. I can tell you, I did not do that. I was -- I did not do that, he is in -- in no way involved in trying to get anybody to say anything that's not true at my request. I didn't do that.

Now, I don't know what else to tell you. I've -- I -- I don't even know -- all I know is what I have read here. But I'm going to cooperate. I didn't ask anybody not to tell the truth. There is no improper relationship. The allegations I have read are not true. I do not know what the basis of them is, other than just what you know. We'll just have to wait and see. And I will be vigorous about it, but I have got to get back to the work of the country.

I was up past midnight with Prime Minister Netanyahu last night. I've got Mr. Arafat coming in. We've got action all over the world and a State of the Union to do. I'll do my best to cooperate with this, just as I have through every other issue that's come up over the last several years, but I have got to get back to work.

Lehrer: Would you acknowledge, though, Mr. President, this is very serious business.

Clinton: And I will cooperate in the inquiry of it.

Lehrer: Mm-hmm. What's going on? What -- what -- if it's not true, pTC that means somebody made this up. Is that -- is that -- is that --

Clinton: Look. You know as much about this as I do right now. We'll just have to look into it and cooperate, and we'll see. But meanwhile, I've got to go on with the work of the country. I got hired to help the rest of the American people.

NPR interview

Here are excerpts of the interview with Clinton by Robert Siegel and Mara Liasson broadcast on "All Things Considered" on National Public Radio yesterday:

Siegel: Many Americans woke up to the news today that the Whitewater independent counsel is investigating an allegation that you, or you and Vernon Jordan, encouraged a young woman to lie to lawyers in the Paula Jones civil suit. Is there any truth to that allegation?

Clinton: No, sir, there's not. It's just not true.

Siegel: Is there any truth to the allegation of an affair between you and the young woman?

Clinton: No. That's not true either. And I have told people that I would cooperate in the investigation. I don't know any more about it than I've told you, and any more about it, really, than you do. But I will cooperate. The charges are not true. And I haven't asked anybody to lie.

Liasson: Mr. President, where do you think this comes from? Did you have any kind of relationship with her that could have been misconstrued?

Clinton: Mara, I'm going to do my best to cooperate with the investigation. I want to know what they want to know from me. I think it's more important for me to tell the American people that there wasn't improper relations, I didn't ask anybody to lie, and I intend to cooperate. And I think that's all I should say right now so I can get back to the work of the country.

Liasson: But you're not able to say whether you had any conversations with her about her testimony, had any conversations at all.

Clinton: I think, given the state of this investigation, it would be inappropriate for me to say more. I've said everything, I think, that I need to say now. I'm going to be cooperative and we'll work through it.

Siegel: But is the fact that in this case, as we understand it, a close friend of this young woman was outfitted with a wire, with a microphone, to record conversations with her at the instruction of the Whitewater counsel, does that disturb you? Do you regard that Mr. Starr is playing the inquisitor here in this case?

Clinton: Well, that's a question the American people will have to ask and answer, and the press will have to ask and answer, the bar will have to ask and answer; but it's inappropriate for me to comment on it at this time. I just have to cooperate, and I'll do that.

Pub Date: 1/22/98

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