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 Hillary Rodham Clinton/AP

Key Player:
Hillary Rodham Clinton

Click on linked names to read about other key players, or see the full list.

The first lady has been her husband's staunchest – and, some say, most important – defender against allegations that he broke the law in an effort to cover up an affair with Monica Lewinsky.

She has played both the role of loyal wife and of chief partisan in the White House counterattack, arguing that she and her husband are victims of a "vast right-wing conspiracy" that includes Kenneth Starr, the "politically motivated" independent counsel.

Immediately after the scandal broke, she went on television to say that she knew her husband better than anyone in the world, still loved him, and fully believed his denial of the Lewinsky allegations.

Immediately after the president's Aug. 17 admission of an inappropriate relationship with Lewinsky, the first lady insisted through her press secretary that she remained "committed to her marriage" and "believes in this president and loves him very much."

Since then, however she feels about her husband and his treatment of her, she has made a conscious decision to keep those thoughts sealed, emphasizing instead how "proud" she is of his accomplishments – and immersing herself in policy.

Hillary Rodham Clinton has had to deal with allegations about her husband's unfaithfulness for nearly a quarter-century, and from Arkansas to Washington, she has been the singularly essential figure in each recovery he has made in the repetitive cycle of loss and recovery that defines his political career.

The First Lady Forges On (Sept. 20, 1998)
She Speaks Out, but Not on His Problems (Sept. 18, 1998)
Democratic Women Rally to First Lady (Sept. 16, 1998)
Hillary Clinton 'Committed' to Marriage (Aug. 19, 1998)
First Lady's Energy, Determination Bind Power Partnership (Feb. 1, 1998)
Excerpts from Jan. 27 Interview on the "Today" Show

(Updated October 2, 1998)

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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