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Hillary Clinton Defends Husband

Hillary Clinton/ap
Hillary Clinton on NBC's "Today." (AP)

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Related Links
_ Excerpts from Hillary Clinton interview
_ Kenneth Starr's response to Hillary Clinton remarks

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By Richard Tapscott
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 27, 1998

Hillary Rodham Clinton, in a fierce defense of her husband, said today that it would not have been unusual for President Clinton to give gifts to a young White House intern, and she blamed allegations of sexual improprieties on a right-wing conspiracy that is trying to "undo the results of two elections."

Appearing on NBC's "Today" show, Clinton called her husband a generous person and downplayed accusations that the president gave presents, including a dress, to former intern Monica Lewinsky. It has been alleged that Lewinsky had an 18-month sexual relationship with the president.

"Anyone who knows my husband knows that he is an extremely generous person to people he knows, to strangers, to anybody who's around him," Clinton said.

Asked by NBC's Matt Lauer whether it is possible that the president had given gifts to Monica Lewinsky, Hillary Clinton responded, "I think it's possible, of course, because if you know my husband, you know that he is somebody who will, you know, say, 'How would you like this?' I mean, I've seen him take his tie off and hand it to somebody."

President Clinton, who was preparing to deliver his State of the Union Address to Congress at 9 p.m. (EST), vehemently denied Monday having a sexual relationship with Lewinsky and asking her to lie to cover it up.

Also in the course of today's interview, scheduled well before the Lewinsky story surfaced, Hillary Clinton branded allegations against the president as being part of a "vast right-wing conspiracy" to drive him from office.

Hillary Clinton urged the public to be patient and wait for all the facts to emerge as Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth Starr investigates whether the president had an affair with Lewinsky then asked her to deny it in testimony she had to give in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case against the president.

"It's just a very unfortunate turn of events that we are using the criminal justice system to try to achieve political ends in this country," the first lady said. Later, she added, "We get a politically motivated prosecutor who is allied with the right-wing opponents of my husband...." Similar statements were made by such Clinton supporters as James Carville in television appearances over the past weekend.

Starr has denied any political motivation to his investigation.

After appearing before a grand jury in Washington today, John Whitehead, the head of a conservative Virginia organization assisting Jones in her suit against Clinton, was asked about the first lady's comments. "Show us the facts," Whitehead said. "Who conspired and where? Who's conspiring to do what? Who are these people?"

During her NBC interview, when Lauer said, "So when people say there's a lot of smoke here, your message is, where there's smoke..." Clinton interrupted.

"There isn't any fire," she said. After the allegations and motivations are dissected and the truth emerges, she predicted, "some folks are going to have a lot to answer for."

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post

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