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Sen. Ensign denies his affair was like Clinton's

The Nevada Republican says he didn't lie under oath or break any laws. Still, he apologizes at a luncheon in his home state.

August 20, 2009|Associated Press

FERNLEY, NEV. — Sen. John Ensign said Wednesday that his affair with a friend's wife was different from former President Clinton's relationship with a White House intern because he didn't lie about it under oath.

"I haven't done anything legally wrong," the Nevada Republican told the Associated Press in an interview.

"President Clinton stood right before the American people and he lied to the American people," Ensign said. "You remember that famous day he lied to the American people, plus the fact I thought he committed perjury. That's why I voted for the articles of impeachment."

Ensign made the remarks before being introduced to a standing ovation from about 100 people at a Chamber of Commerce lunch in rural Fernley, about 35 miles east of Reno.

Ensign opened his speech by acknowledging what he called a "distraction."

"I think it would be inappropriate to start any other way than to say I'm sorry," he said. "I've said I'm sorry. I can't say I'm sorry enough."

The luncheon was Ensign's first public appearance in his home state since he acknowledged in June that he had an affair with former campaign aide Cynthia Hampton.

Ensign resigned as head of the Senate's Republican Policy Committee after he admitted to having the affair with Hampton from December 2007 to August 2008.

Ensign's attorney has said that Ensign's parents paid the woman and her family $96,000 after learning about the affair.

Ensign once called on Clinton to resign after his affair with intern Monica Lewinsky was disclosed in 1998.

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