President caught red-faced on Jones case tape

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WITH AUDIO and video clips, high rhetoric and low cunning, lawyers for and against the impeachment of the President argued their case yesterday at the start of the House Judiciary Committee's formal debate on impeachment.

Among the evidence was a new source of embarrassment for President Clinton: snatches from his taped testimony in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case that showed him red-faced and evasive on the nature of his liaison with Monica Lewinsky.

The use of the tape by the Republican counsel, David Schippers, brought forth anger from the White House, which said it had had no warning that the hitherto confidential tape would be aired. The White House special counsel, Gregory Craig, said that he was "disappointed and saddened at the use of innuendo, anger and unfair and unsubstantiated charges" and appealed to the committee to "be guided by your conscience and judgement".

Mr Schippers accused Mr Clinton of trying to deprive Paula Jones of her legal rights and using the power of the presidency to do so. He said that this was "a defining moment for the Presidency: if you don't impeach, no House of Representatives will ever be able to impeach again".

Abbe Lowell, counsel for the Democrats, used Mr Clinton's testimony, the Lewinsky-Linda Tripp conversations, and witness transcripts to support his case that Mr Clinton's actions were neither criminal nor impeachable, and that the motivation for what he did was personal - to keep an adulterous relationship secret from his family. And he made much of Ms Lewinsky's statement that no one told her to lie.

Abe Hirschfeld, the New York property tycoon who, earlier this year, offered Paula Jones $1m (pounds 0.625m) to settle her sexual harassment suit against President Clinton, was in jail, yesterday, facing charges that he sought to hire an assassin to kill a former business partner, Stanley Stahl, 73.