Clinton's Confessions: Questions of perjury still unresolved

"EVEN PRESIDENTS have private lives," an almost exasperated Bill Clinton told the two thirds of Americans who watched his televised exercise in limited penitence on Monday night. The affirmation was intended as defence and justification, but can he survive so comprehensive an admission, even if it was couched in such guarded and sometimes ambiguous language?

The first, emotional, response from Americans seemed to be that he could. But even after his admission of an "inappropriate relationship" with Monica Lewinsky, Mr Clinton faces the very same two problems as existed back in January when the allegations about his relationship first surfaced. The first is the legal question of whether he committed perjury or not when he denied an affair. The second is the political question of his credibility with the voters after so sharp a reversal of his position.

Mr Clinton had hoped to quash the perjury accusations once and for all by insisting that what he told the Paula Jones sexual harassment lawyers under oath was "technically correct". But he did admit that he did "not volunteer" information. This may not amount to perjury, but questions were asked yesterday about the indefiniteness of other responses in that investigation.

When he repeatedly said that he did not "recall" or "recollect" specific incidents or occasions - like being alone with Ms Lewinsky, like giving her gifts - could this amount to perjury? This is a question for the independent prosecutor, Kenneth Starr, and for Congress, but he may not be off the perjury hook yet.

Of the other accusations being investigated by Mr Starr, one - that Mr Clinton may have obstructed the course of justice or suborned perjury by instructing Ms Lewinsky to lie about the relationship under oath - seems to have been quashed by Ms Lewinsky's testimony.

Allegations of "witness-tampering", however, which include settling Ms Lewinsky and others of his accusers in plum jobs or threatening less co-operative individuals with "being destroyed" if they told the truth, could be less easy to deflect. These accusations were not addressed in the statements of either Mr Clinton or his lawyer.

If anything finishes off Bill Clinton's presidency before time, however, it will probably be the political liability of his starkly conflicting television statements. On 26 January, Mr Clinton jabbed his finger at the camera and - as one commentator said - "lied to us". "I want you to listen to me," he said. "I'm going to say this again: I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms Lewinsky." On 17 August, he admitted: "I did have a relationship with Miss Lewinsky that was not appropriate. In fact, it was wrong."

In Britain, no politician, let along the national leader, would survive an admission like that, penitent or not, whether the accusation related to his private life or not. It would be the lie, not the relationship, that damned him, and no squealing about private life being private would save him.

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
New Articles
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
i100
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
booksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Implementation Consultant (VB,C#, SQL, Java, Eclipse, integ

£40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SQL Impl...

SQL Technical Implementation Consultant (Java, BA, Oracle, VBA)

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: SQL Technical ...

Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, Fidessa, Equities)

£85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...

Lead C# Developer (.Net, nHibernate, MVC, SQL) Surrey

£55000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Lead C# Develo...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering