Clinton accused: What the Americans think

The polls had some good news for President Bill Clinton yesterday morning. A joint survey conducted by the Wall Street Journal and NBC News showed that he was enjoying his highest approval rating since his first election in 1992. No less than 62 per cent of those polled said he was doing a good job.

Best of all, the Journal poll suggested he was making headway in his battle to contain the allegations of Paula Jones, the woman claiming he exposed himself to her while he was Arkansas Governor. Only 27 per cent believed that Ms Jones was credible. But other polls yesterday were getting considerably more attention. These centred on the explosive new scandal to hit the President: that he had an affair with Monica Lewinsky and that he tried to persuade her to lie about it to investigators.

A CNN/USA Today Gallup poll showed no less than 49 per cent of those surveyed believed that Mr Clinton lied when he said under oath last weekend that he never had a sexual liaison with Ms Lewinsky. Moreover, 39 per cent said they are convinced that he also told her to lie about it.

Meanwhile, 45 per cent said they considered that the latest allegations were relevant to Mr Clinton's exercise of power. On the other hand, an absolute majority, 52 per cent, expressed the opinion that it was not relevant.

In a separate poll, conducted by the ABC network, 76 per cent said they would view any evidence that Mr Clinton indeed leaned on Ms Lewinsky to lie about their relationship to be a very serious matter. Only 21 per cent said they would not see it that way.

And, if fresh facts emerge that give any further credence to the allegations against the President, those figures could quickly take a turn for the worse.

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