WASHINGTON, Jan. 26 -- President Clinton forcefully denied he had sex with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky or that he ever asked anyone to lie about the situation. At a White House ceremony today to announce new efforts on after- school child care, Clinton closed by addressing the burgeoning scandal and allegations that have rocked his presidency in recent days. In measured, clipped manner, Clinton declared: 'I want to say one thing to the American people. I want you to listen to me. I'm going to say this again. I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. I never told anybody to lie. Not a single time. Never. These allegations are false and I need to go back to work for the American people. Thank you.' Clinton's emphatic statement differed from his previous comments in that he used the more explicit term 'sexual relations' as opposed to the earlier characterization of a 'sexual relationship.' His spokesman, Mike McCurry, later stated: 'You can take the president at his word' concerning the denial he described as 'unambiguous' and 'very direct.' But McCurry declined to answer further questions, saying the president would come forward further when he was not constrained by legal proceedings. Meanwhile, Clinton's attorneys asked the federal judge in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case -- the charges by the former Arkansas employee are what brought this latest controversy to light -- to move the trial up from the scheduled May 27 start. McCurry said the Clinton team wanted an earlier trial 'so these matters can be resolved sooner rather than later.'
It was questioning in the Jones case that unearthed the allegations of Lewinsky, a then 21-year-old White House intern who claimed on recordings taped secretly by a friend that she had a sexual relationship with Clinton for more than a year. Independent counsel Kenneth Starr has now had his original Whitewater investigation expanded to include the possibility Clinton asked Lewinsky to lie about the alleged relationship. McCurry earlier pointed a finger at Starr's office for illegally disclosing secret grand jury proceedings. Pointing to various newspaper reports quoting sources close to the prosecutor, McCurry said pointedly, 'Someone is violating the law.' McCurry also said Clinton is denying anyone ever walked in on a private encounter in the executive mansion between he and Lewinsky, or that the president had told anyone he had an 'emotional relationship' with the 24-year-old. 'That's my understanding,' McCurry said. ---
Copyright 1998 by United Press International. All rights reserved. ---