WASHINGTON — President Clinton said in an interview released Tuesday that he is prepared to "stand and fight" if he is indicted after leaving office.
In a wide-ranging one-hour interview with CBS News taped Monday, Clinton said he wants to rest for a while after leaving the White House, mused about some of his political adversaries and said he doesn't have a clue if his wife, Sen.-elect Hillary Rodham Clinton, might run for president.
Dan Rather, who conducted the interview, asked Clinton if he expects to be indicted by the office of the independent counsel, which investigated the Whitewater real estate deal, his affair with Monica S. Lewinsky and a host of other issues.
"Look, I don't have any idea. I don't have any control over that, and I don't spend much time thinking about it," he said in a transcript of the interview released by the White House.
Asked if he thought President-elect George W. Bush, the Republican Texas governor who takes his place on Jan. 20, might pardon him, Clinton said: "I haven't given any thought to that. But I doubt it. I mean, no, I haven't thought about that.
"Since I don't believe I should be charged, I don't want that," he added. "If that's what they want, I'll be happy to stand and fight."
Asked about the investigation of Whitewater, an Arkansas real estate venture that he and his wife invested in in 1978 and ultimately lost money on, Clinton replied:
"Biggest bogus issue in modern American politics. Classic--it was a fraud from the get-go and a lot of the people that were propagating it knew it was a fraud," he said.
Kenneth W. Starr, the independent counsel who presided over the investigation into Clinton's affair with Lewinsky and his dissembling to conceal it, came in for some harsh words.
"They put him in there because [former independent counsel Robert] Fiske was a fair, balanced man and the whole thing was going to be over before the '96 election and they didn't want that," Clinton said. "So they put him in there; said drag it out and get a bigger body count . . . he did just what he was supposed to."
Clinton said he thought talk that his wife, who has won a seat in the U.S. Senate representing New York, might run for president in 2004 or 2008 was "worse than idle speculation."
Clinton said he had advised her to "solidify her roots in New York."