Clinton denies guards arranged affairs: President keeps his cool as he fights scandal on two fronts

PRESIDENT Bill Clinton yesterday denied that as governor of Arkansas he had asked his security guards to arrange extra-marital affairs for him. In a series of interviews in the White House aimed at trying to defuse the scandal, he said: 'We did nothing wrong.'

Mr Clinton refused to go into detail, saying: 'I just think it is not appropriate in a situation like this for me to do more than I'm doing.'

The first shots in the White House counter-attack against the allegations came on Tuesday from his wife, Hillary. She said that the White House was the object of 'outrageous attack' by people who were expecting pay-offs or who were political enemies.

Mr Clinton is keen to avoid details. He did not expand on a statement made by aides that the charges had been answered last year. Referring to another simmering scandal over his business dealings, he promised to turn over records taken from the office of Vincent Foster, the White House aide who committed suicide in Washington on 20 July.

Only on the allegation that he had offered a job to a state trooper to keep him quiet did Mr Clinton go out of his way to say 'that absolutely did not happen'.

The most dangerous allegation against Mr Clinton comes from a state trooper who says that he was offered a job personally by Mr Clinton when President to buy his silence. The White House does not deny that the President had talked to some Arkansas state troopers who had once belonged to his security detail, but says it was only to discover what efforts were being made to get them to talk about him.

Ever since Gennifer Flowers said last year that she had had a 12-year affair with Mr Clinton, voters have probably assumed that the President had not led a wholly monogamous life in Little Rock. But, as with the case of Ms Flowers, the motives of his accusers are widely suspected. Although the state troopers, Roger Perry and Larry Patterson, deny they have been promised a book contract, it is widely assumed that they will be able to cash in on their story.

Their account is partly confirmed by Mr Clinton's phone records. He spoke to one woman for 94 minutes in the middle of the night and, on another occasion, called her 11 times in one day in 1989, according to bills obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

Mr Clinton may also be helped in extricating himself from the scandal by the uneasiness of the mainstream media in carrying the story. The Los Angeles Times reporters who spent four-and-a-half months in Little Rock interviewing people about Mr Clinton's affairs were uneasy and defensive when interviewed on television. None of the women with whom the President was allegedly involved, apart from Gennifer Flowers, has yet appeared to confirm the troopers' story.

The second scandal in which the Clintons are mired revolves around records held by Mr Foster - one of their closest aides - on the day he shot himself. Federal law officers say they want to see files removed from Mr Foster's office hours after his death. This Mr Clinton yesterday promised to do. He said he had not previously been asked.

Mrs Clinton said: 'I am bewildered that a losing investment which for us was significant - dollars 69,000 (pounds 47,000), which is provable by the accountants - is still a topic of inquiry.' Given that Mr Foster was the Clintons' lawyer, they could invoke invoke lawyer-client privilege and refuse to hand over the papers. The Foster family has refused to surrender his diary to investigators.

Demons ride again, page 17