Surprise result of Monica tape

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The Independent Online
AS AMERICANS pondered their first impressions of Monica Lewinsky's face and voice, yesterday, the Senators who are expected to deliver their verdict on President Clinton later this week were confronted with two unrelated consequences of her appearance. One senior Democratic Senator indicated that he had changed his mind about Mr Clinton's innocence, while the chief White House "spinmeister" found himself, like his boss, facing accusations of perjury.

Robert Byrd, the 81-year-old Democrat, who had earlier sponsored an unsuccessful motion to have the charges against President Clinton dismissed, said yesterday that having seen the recorded testimony of the three witnesses he was now convinced the President was guilty of the "high crimes and misdemeanours" that would precipitate his removal. He suggested, nonetheless, that he would join Democratic colleagues in voting to acquit the President.

Meanwhile, Senators and Representatives called for a Justice Department investigation into whether Sidney Blumenthal lied to Congress when he denied involvement in alleged White House attempts to discredit Ms Lewinsky.

In a sworn affidavit provided to House prosecutors, however, Christopher Hitchens a Washington-based British journalist said that Mr Blumenthal had described Ms Lewinsky several times as a "stalker" and Mr Clinton as the "victim" of a predatory and unstable young woman.

Ms Lewinsky, meanwhile, was attracting mainly positive reviews for her performance. She was described yesterday as solid and serious, but also as well versed in lawyerly evasion as the President she was enamoured of.

This had no effect on the public assessment of the President. A majority is convinced that he is guilty as charged and that he should not be removed from office, and that contradiction remains.