Congressmen become targets as Clinton `sex' video is edited

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The Independent Online
WASHINGTON TRIED to close ranks yesterday to calm the growing spread of sexual allegations about leading politicians. There were signs, too, that a revealing video about Bill Clinton, due for release today, would be edited to remove the salacious material. The White House and Congress have both been trying to prevent the affair from contaminating every aspect of politics.

Reports of sexual misbehaviour by several republicans have triggered fears of a "sexual Armageddon."

The video contains Mr Clinton's testimony to Kenneth Starr's investigation of the President's sexual adventures and alleged attempts to cover them up. It portrays an angry, evasive President attempting to fend off claims about his sex life.

The Congressional Committee which would release the tape was trying to agree yesterday on the removal of some of the more sexually explicit sections to calm public fears that Congress is simply releasing yet more pornographic material.

There was widespread revulsion at the Starr report, not just aimed at the President but also at its authors.

There are fears that if the President's sex life is further exposed, then others would also be fair game.

Henry Hyde, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, was the subject of allegations in the Internet magazine Salon, which revealed a 30-year old infidelity. Mr Hyde is normally regarded as a man of impeccable character.

Other Republicans, too, have come under the scrutiny. The Republicans have blamed the White House for the leaks, but yesterday the White House said that it would fire immediately any staff member caught leaking information about the private life of a member.

Democrats and Republicans struck a pact on the floor of Congress that no candidate in November's elections would be allowed to use such material for attacks on opponents.

Though much of this is self-interest, there is a genuine fear that private lives will become public ammunition in American politics, where the use of such attacks is less common than in British politics.

Video nasties, page 15

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