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Clinton's Own Words From His Grand Jury Appearance

Posted September 11, 1998

— Scattered throughout the Starr report are quotations from President Clinton's historic testimony to a grand jury last month - words that show a chief executive forced to answer questions once unthinkable.

His sense of unease is apparent. Pressed to explain how a semen stain got on a navy blue dress Monica Lewinsky wore on Feb. 27, 1997, in the White House, the president recalled a sexual encounter around that date.

He expressed remorse for the incident, which he portrayed as a relapse after months of refraining from sexual contact with her.

``I was sick after it was over, and I, I was pleased at the time that it had been nearly a year since any inappropriate contact had occurred with Ms. Lewinsky,'' the president testified Aug. 17. ``I promised myself it wasn't going to happen again. The facts are complicated about what did happen and how it happened.''

Here are some more excerpts from that testimony as disclosed in Starr's report Friday.

On his sexual relationship with Ms. Lewinsky:

``When I was alone with Ms. Lewinsky on certain occasions in early 1996 and once in early 1997, I engaged in conduct that was wrong.''

On Ms. Lewinsky's testimony in the Paula Jones case:

``She raised the issue with me in the context of her desire to avoid testifying, which I certainly understood; not only because there were some embarrassing facts about our relationship that were inappropriate, but also because a whole lot of innocent people were being traumatized and dragged through the mud by these Jones lawyers with their dragnet strategy. ...'' Q:``Do you agree that she was upset about being subpoenaed?'' A:``Oh yes, sir, she was upset. She - well, she - we - she didn't - we didn't talk about a subpoena. She said, 'I don't want to testify. I know nothing about this. I certainly know nothing about sexual harassment. Why do they want me to testify?' And I explained to her why they were doing this and why all these women were on these lists, people that they knew good and well had nothing to do with any sexual harassment.''

On gifts he had given Ms. Lewinsky:

``I did have a conversation with Ms. Lewinsky at some time about gifts, the gifts I'd given her. I do not know whether it occurred on the 28th (of December, 1997) or whether it occurred earlier. I do not know whether it occurred in person or whether it occurred on the telephone. ... And I told her that if they asked her for gifts, she'd have to give them whatever she had, that that's what the law was.'' Q:``Did you ever have a conversation with Betty Currie about gifts or picking up something from Monica Lewinsky?'' A:``I don't believe I did, sir. No.''

On developing a cover story to explain Ms. Lewinsky's visits to the White House: Q:``Did you ever say anything like that, 'you can always say that you were coming to see Betty (Currie) or bringing me letters?' Was that part of any kind of a, anything you said to her or a cover story, before you had any idea she was going to be part of Paula Jones?'' A:``I might well have said that. ... Because I certainly didn't want this to come out, if I could help it. And I was concerned about that. I was embarrassed about it. I knew it was wrong.''


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