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THE CLINTON TESTIMONY

President's Video: 'Inappropriate, Intimate Contact'

September 22, 1998

These are excerpts from President Clinton's testimony before the grand jury on Aug. 17, 1998. The questions are from prosecutors. Some readers may find parts of this testimony offensive.

Question: Mr. President, were you physically intimate with Monica Lewinsky?

Answer: Mr. Bittman, I think maybe I can save the--you and the grand jurors a lot of time if I read a statement which I think will make it clear what the nature of my relationship with Miss Lewinsky was, how it related to the testimony I gave, what I was trying to do in that testimony, and I think it will perhaps make it possible for you to ask even more relevant questions, from your point of view. And with your permission, I'd like to read that statement. . . .

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Q: Absolutely. Please, Mr. President.

A: (Reading from statement.) When I was alone with Ms. Lewinsky on certain occasions in early 1996, and once in early 1997, I engaged in conduct that was wrong. These encounters did not consist of sexual intercourse. They did not constitute sexual relations as I understood that term to be defined, at my January 17th, 1998 deposition, but they did involve inappropriate, intimate contact. These inappropriate encounters ended at my insistence in early 1997. I also had occasional telephone conversations with Miss Lewinsky that included inappropriate sexual banter.

I regret that what began as a friendship came to include this conduct, and I take full responsibility for my actions. While I will provide the grand jury whatever other information I can, because of privacy considerations affecting my family, myself, and others, and in an effort to preserve the dignity of the office I hold, this is all I will say about the specifics of these particular matters.

I will try to answer to the best of my ability other questions, including questions about my relationship with Miss Lewinsky, questions about my understanding of the term "sexual relations" as I understood it to be defined at my Jan. 17th, 1998 deposition, and questions concerning alleged subornation of perjury, obstruction of justice, and intimidation of witnesses. . . .

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Q: Was this contact with Ms. Lewinsky, Mr. President--did it involve any sexual contact in any way, shape or form?

A: Mr. Bittman, I said in the statement I would like to stay to the terms of the statement. I think it's clear what inappropriately intimate is. I have said what it did not include. It did not include sexual intercourse, and I do not believe it included conduct which falls within the definition I was given in the [Paula Corbin] Jones deposition. And I would like to stay with that characterization.

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Q: Let's, then, move to the definition that was provided to you during your deposition. . . .

A: Yes. I can tell you what my understanding of the definition is if you want me to do it.

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Q: Sure.

A: My understanding of this definition is that it covers contact by the person being deposed with the enumerated areas "if the contact is done with an intent to arouse or gratify." That's my understanding of the definition.

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Q: What did you believe the definition to include and exclude? What kinds of activity?

A: I felt the definition included any activity by the person being deposed where the person was the actor and came in contact with those parts of the bodies with the purpose of intent for gratification and excluded any other activity. For example, kissing's not covered by that, I don't think.

Defining Sex

A: . . . And I believe that is the definition that ordinary Americans would give it. If you said, "Jane and Harry had a sexual relationship," and you're not talking about people being gone into a lawsuit and being given definitions and then a great effort to trick them in some way, but you're just talking about people in ordinary conversation, I'll bet the grand jurors, if they were talking about two people they know and said, "They had a sexual relationship," they meant they were "sleeping" together; they meant they were "having intercourse" together. . . .

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Q: So your definition of sexual relationship is intercourse only; is that correct?

A: No, not necessarily intercourse only, but it would include intercourse. I believe that the common understanding of the term, if you say two people are having a sexual relationship, most people believe that includes intercourse. So if that's what Ms. Lewinsky thought, then this is a truthful affidavit. I don't know what was in her mind, but if that's what she thought, the affidavit is true. . . .

Well, I ask, Mr. President, because your attorney, using the very document, Grand Jury Exhibit 4, WJC-4, represented to Judge Wright that his understanding of the meaning of that affidavit, which you've indicated you thought Ms. Lewinsky thought was just intercourse, he says to Judge Wright that it meant absolutely no sex of any kind, in any manner, shape or form.

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