President's four-hour video nasty

THE WHITE HOUSE was bracing itself for further damage limitation last night as Congress prepared to release a highly embarrassing videotape of President Bill Clinton.

Mr Clinton's image, already tarnished by revelations of his sexual habits and alleged cover-up efforts, will be ripped to shreds as Americans see a usually calm and avuncular man quarrelling with his accusers, losing his temper and avoiding difficult questions.

The tape is a record of Mr Clinton's testimony to Kenneth Starr's inquiry into his sexual misdoings and attempts to cover them up. It shows the President as evasive and angry, far from his current public persona of a man who is contrite about his past behaviour. He wavers over definitions of sexual acts, refuses to answer some questions, argues about others, which he says criminalise his private life, and is generally unhelpful.

He was, of course, conducting his defence in a legal context, but the appearance will do him grave damage. It will harm his image, and most importantly, confirm the view that he sought to avoid the truth.

The tape runs for four hours, covering the afternoon of 17 August which the President spent in the White House Map Room under questioning from Mr Starr's assistants. The President had spent the morning being briefed on planned missile strikes against Sudan and Afghanistan, a bizarre juxtaposition that cannot have helped his temper. He was also arguing with aides about the terms of a televised broadcast that evening to the American people on his misdeeds, a broadcast which at the time was deemed by many to be insufficiently contrite, and which indeed criticised Mr Starr.

The cable networks - CNN, MSNBC and Fox News Channel - plan to air all four hours, virtually unabridged. They were scrambling to decide on the precise arrangements yesterday. In particular, there may be scenes or words that they do not wish to air, and some may use a tape delay. The main networks - CBS, ABC and NBC - will show excerpts, but probably not all of the tapes. All are aware that the timing - the tapes will probably be released this morning - means that they will have little time to review all four hours before they air it.

The Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives met yesterday to approve the release of the tape. There was strong resistance from the panel's Democrats, but they are in a minority. The Republicans say it is important people see how the President tried to evade questions, as part of an effort to show he is guilty of perjury.

It is not just the videotape that is at issue: there are 2,500 pages of appendices to the report as well as 17 boxes of other material - transcripts, videos and audiotapes. Some of it is dynamite, containing highly personal revelations by witnesses, and some of it may never be released.

The committee started off by claiming that it would be a bipartisan effort to decide whether to launch impeachment proceedings: that has very quickly come to grief, and things are now little better than a bar-room brawl. "They talk about wanting bipartisan co-operation but so far they have just been rolling over us," said Maxine Waters, a Democrat on the committee. "They have the votes and they can do that."

The possible consequences of recent events led the Congress to forge a unique agreement yesterday that neither party would use smears against the other in forthcoming elections. It followed revelations that Henry Hyde, the Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee, had been unfaithful to his wife more than 30 years ago - raising fears in both parties that the Clinton revelations would trip off a "sexual Armageddon", where every politician's dirty laundry was washed in public.

John Linder, chairman of the Republican campaign committee, and Martin Frost, his Democratic counterpart, agreed that neither organisation would fund candidates who use personal attacks.

"Initiating a personal attack on anybody running for office is simply off limits," said Mr Linder. "We are soon going to have no one of any stature willing to put themselves through this wringer, and it is sad for America."

News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Sport
Romelu Lukaku puts pen to paper
sport
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
Travel
Ryan taming: the Celtic Tiger carrier has been trying to improve its image
travelRyanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?
News
people
Extras
indybest
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
Life and Style
Slim pickings: Spanx premium denim collection
fashionBillionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers 'thigh-trimming construction'
News
Sabina Altynbekova has said she wants to be famous for playing volleyball, not her looks
people
News
i100
Life and Style
tech'World's first man-made leaves' could use photosynthesis to help astronauts breathe
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant

£65000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A rare opportun...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash