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First Lady Lashes Out at Allegations

By Ruth Marcus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 22, 1993; Page A01

Hillary Rodham Clinton yesterday denounced "outrageous, terrible stories" accusing President Clinton of using Arkansas state troopers to facilitate extramarital affairs. She said they were a politically motivated effort to harm Clinton at a time when his political fortunes seemed to be on the rebound.

"I find it not an accident that every time he is on the verge of fulfilling his commitment to the American people and they respond . . . out comes yet a new round of these outrageous, terrible stories that people plant for political and financial reasons," she said in an interview with the Associated Press.

She said that Cliff Jackson, an Arkansas lawyer and longtime Clinton foe who helps represent two state troopers who have accused Clinton of numerous extramarital affairs, is part of a group "that has become obsessed with the president" and revives allegations of infidelity whenever Clinton is doing well.

"For me, it's pretty sad that we're still subjected to these kind of attacks for political and financial gain from people, and that it is sad that – especially here in the Christmas season – people for their own purposes would be attacking my family," Hillary Clinton said.

For the White House, the First Lady's aggressive stance was part of a damage control effort that it hopes will end news reports about the allegations within a few days.

Network news reports on the allegations led with her comments -- aimed at eliciting sympathy from viewers who could identify with her references to the "attacks" on the First Family – rather than with descriptions of the White House effort to dissuade the troopers from publicizing their story.

"I think her answer was good and it was real," one senior official said. "It was human."

The president has not been asked about the reports, which were first aired on Cable News Network and in the American Spectator magazine over the weekend. But Clinton is scheduled to conduct a number of interviews today, including a round table with Arkansas journalists, that are likely to yield his first comments on the matter. With that, White House officials hope, the story will be put to rest.

Other than Hillary Clinton's comments yesterday, the White House strategy was to remain silent. For the second day in a row, there was no daily press briefing. Officials also refused to provide further details about the timing or extent of contacts by the president or other senior officials with troopers and others in an attempt to keep the troopers from going public with their allegations.

"We're not going to get into that," a senior official said. "We don't think it's relevant. . . . We've said all we're going to say about those particular charges."

Two of the troopers, Roger Perry and Larry Patterson, have made their allegations on the record. The Los Angeles Times reported two other troopers making similar charges but those troopers refused to be identified.

Hillary Clinton's office made clear that she has said all that she will say on the subject, indicating that she would not tolerate questions on the matter when she is interviewed today for segments to be broadcast on the network morning shows Thursday.

"About two weeks ago the morning shows came to us and said they wanted to do a Christmas at the White House piece and we said, 'Sure,' and that's what we're going to do," said press secretary Lisa Caputo.

"Mrs. Clinton has said all she cares to say with regard to the American Spectator piece and there's no reason to comment any further. I am holding the networks to their agreement."

© Copyright 1993 The Washington Post Company

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