Clinton admits further intimacies with Monica Lewinsky

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PRESIDENT Clinton admitted exchanging gifts with Monica Lewinsky, the White House trainee, and said he may have been alone with her in his office on as many as five occasions. He admitted taking an interest in her subsequent search for a job in the private sector, but denied he had initiated the effort to find her employment. He also denied categorically having a sexual relationship with her.

These details, which augment and confirm information already made public about the still-unclarified relationship between Mr Clinton and Ms Lewinsky, were printed by the Washington Post yesterday.

It was the most authoritative account yet of sworn testimony given by Mr Clinton in January. He had been summoned to answer questions in the sexual harassment case brought by Paula Jones, the former government worker from Arkansas, who says she was propositioned by Mr Clinton in a hotel room in 1991.

The videotaped interrogation lasted for more than six hours and can be brought as evidence if the case comes to court, as scheduled, on 27 May. One detail reported by the Post was a written definition of sexual relations set out by Paula Jones's legal team. This includes fondling and oral sex, but not kissing on the lips, and leaves Mr Clinton little room to modify his denial of an affair with Ms Lewinsky without laying himself open to the charge of perjury. A news report last weekend suggested that Mr Clinton might be prepared to admit kissing Ms Lewinsky, but nothing more.

According to the Post, which said it had obtained a partial transcript of Mr Clinton's 17 January deposition, much of the questioning related to Ms Lewinsky. Allegations that Mr Clinton had an affair with her and put pressure on her to lie about it are the subject of a separate, criminal, investigation conducted by the independent prosecutor, Kenneth Starr. Ms Lewinsky's name first emerged in connection with the Paula Jones case. Ms Jones's lawyers have been trying to establish a "pattern of behaviour" by Mr Clinton and have sought out other women who may have been propositioned by him.

The White House and Mr Clinton's lawyers denied leaking the information about Mr Clinton's testimony that appeared in yesterday's Post, but no one denied the account was genuine. The extent of detail - which included a description of the President speaking so softly that he was repeatedly asked to speak up, and occasional flashes of anger about the course of questioning, left little doubt about its authenticity.