President Bill Clinton told NBC's Brian Williams tonight charges brought against him by the House of Representatives were false, contradicting a plea bargain deal he made with Independent Counsel Robert Ray that he admit he gave false testimony under oath to a federal grand jury.
In a blistering attack on Ray's predecessor, Kenneth Starr, Clinton accused the independent counsel of persecuting innocent people, indicting them because they wouldn't lie and assaulting the Constitution.
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"I was acquitted," he told Williams. "And ... the charges that the House sent to the Senate were false. So I did a bad thing. I made a bad personal mistake. I paid a big price for it. But I was acquitted because the charges were false."
There was no follow-up by Williams.
The articles of impeachment passed by the House in 1998 included the accusation that he lied under oath. Yet, Clinton admitted Jan. 19, 2001, as part of his deal with Ray, he had lied under oath while testifying about his relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
"I tried to walk a fine line between acting lawfully and testifying falsely," he said in a written statement. "But I now recognize that I did not fully accomplish that goal and that certain of my responses to questions about Ms. Lewinsky were false.