Clinton scandal: Which way for the President?

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The Independent Online
With his popularity ratings in a nosedive, President Clinton finds himself engulfed in allegations of adultery and obstruction of justice. What is around the corner? David Usborne speculates on two roads that may lie ahead for Mr Clinton. One leads to salvation, another to purgatory. He may stagger on for months in the legal and political swampland that lies between the two - but this is a story where nothing seems beyond the realms of possibility.

1 Monica Lewinsky, desperate to save her own skin, agrees to cooperate with special counsel Kenneth Starr. She agrees to corroborate under oath eveything we think were heard in her taped conversations with Linda Tripp. She had oral sex with the President and he did tell her to lie about it.

2 Members of the House Judiciary Committee agree to begin hearings on whether to invoke the articles of impeachment. At the same time, more than a dozen women come forward with their own tales of presidential fondlings

3 Vice President Al Gore begins to distance himself from the President. Starr presses charges of perjury, seeking to suborn perjury and obstruction of justice against Mr Clinton. His approval rating slumps to 30 per cent - less than half what it was before the scandal.

4 After two months of hearings, the Judiciary Committee votes in favour of impeachment and sumbits the articles for consideration on the House floor. On 15 April, the Democratic leadership in Congress, Tom Daschle and Dick Gephardt, advise the President he should resign or face impeachment.

5 Clinton goes before the nation to announce he is stepping down from office. With Hillary and Chelsea at his side, he weeps openly. Al Gore is sworn in on 1 May as the next President of the United States. And America has a first woman vice-president: Madeleine Albright.

Five steps to Redemption

1 On 26 January, President Clinton makes a telephone call to London. Prime Minister Blair is informed of the impending air strikes on Iraq. The bombs drop for six hours. For the first time since Tuesday night the Lewinsky affair is supplanted as the the lead item on the network news.

2 The opinion polls begin to swing back in the President's favour. 83 per cent of those questioned in a CNN poll say Clinton would become a martyr if he is forced to resign. Kenneth Starr is the most unpopular man in America since Jeffrey Dahmer was convicted.

3 Talks between Starr and Lewinsky's lawyer, William Ginsburg, break down. While ready to corroborate that she had repeated oral sex with the President, Lewinsky will not confirm that he asked her to lie about the relationship. The Rev. Billy Graham says the Bible does not condemn oral sex.

4 Bill and Hillary Clinton renew their marriage vows in Washington Cathedral. Newt Gingrich goes before the cameras publicly to urge Republican colleagues to back off their calls for impeachment hearings. Their attacks on the President are backfiring on the party

5 Kenneth Starr takes a job teaching at Pepperdine University and closes the book on all of his investigations. A quiet settlement is reached in the Paula Jones case. Clinton's poll ratings soar. The Comeback Kid has done it again.