Transcript for Aug. 17, 1998: President Clinton admits 'improper relationship' with Monica Lewinsky
For the first time ever a sitting president testified to a grand jury about whether he told the truth. Or covered up the truth or encouraged others to lie. It is not a happy occasion for anyone. The president testified over there for five and a half hours this afternoon. When the independent counsel Kenneth Starr arrived this morning at the diplomatic entrance he reportedly believed he had a strong case against the president. We're gonna go for to the White House obviously an ABC Sam Donaldson Sam. Peter President Clinton will address the nation tonight at 10 o'clock eastern time to explain what ABC news has been told that is that he changed his story. Before his grand jury testimony. That in fact he admitted that it had an improper relationship. With Monica Lewinsky with sexual overtones precisely how I described it went to what's depth he went into it we cannot say but that was a crucial point. And we've been told that he changed his story on that point. When Kenneth Starr left after the testimony today he was very tight lipped. He had nothing to say to reporters but moments later the president's private attorney Kendall came out and he said this. Testimony the president voluntarily testified for more than four hours. About his relationship with ms. Lewinsky. And the questions. He was asked about that relationship. In that Jones deposition. Last January. He testified truthfully. We're hopeful that the president's testimony. Will finally bring closure. To the independent counsel's more than four years and over forty million dollar investigation. Which has culminated. In an investigation. Of the president's private life. David Kendall would answer no questions saying he did not want to preempt the president's address tonight. Peter we're told that the president actually wrote a draft of his speech for tonight before he went in to testify this afternoon. That the speech will be Guardsmen ten minutes or less and to the point. This will be the final event of a very grueling day for mr. Clinton. In the past Jackie if she wants to call bar. The stars team of prosecutors sitting to one side the president's private and government attorneys sitting to the other near the president. Who sat facing a video camera. Which transmitted his testimony live on a closed circuit to members of the grand jury in the federal courthouse twelve blocks away. The jurors could relay questions of their own which would be ask for them by the prosecutors. While the testimony was still going on senate Judiciary Chairman hatch repeated his belief that the country can be forgiving. If all it is is a case of lying about sex and he admits. I've same the American people forgive an awful lot of things. And I believe that they'll forgive him they may not market and they may diminish and and then strength but they'll forgive. Forgiveness is what the president will be emphasizing in any speech tonight. A familiar theme here is used before. Earlier in his career he asked the people of Arkansas have to forgive him for imposing certain automobile tax. It is an hour both support an increase most pleased to solve the problem. But it was a mistake. Later he asked them to forgive him his promise that he would serve at a four year term as governor rather than run for president of the dead being considered as a candidate for governor that's the job I want. That's a job I'll be for the next four years. Go ahead. In 1992. During the Gennifer Flowers uproar he asked the nation to forgive him for anything he had done wrong I have acknowledged. Wrongdoing. Knowledge causing pain in love marriage and in every case so far. Bill Clinton has been forgiven. But this time it may be a very very hard sell senator hatch by saying forgiveness if it's only sex also went on to say. That if there's evidence the president's suborn perjury that is try to get others to lie to cover this up or obstructed justice then that would be something for a very serious impeachment investigation. So Peter one speech tonight may not do it. Sam associate of the president let down an awful lot of people today a lot of them in the White House itself as you walked around today but the people say and think. That's the thing you noted a lot of his aides particularly young people who come it was stars in their eyes we're very downcast it was sort of like walking to a hospital war. There disillusioned. Their heart they don't know what to make of this it was very said. OK Sam thanks very much.
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