Clinton Takes Cover

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WASHINGTON: Subpoenas to the left of him, subpoenas to the right ... President Clinton was huddled with his lawyers Thursday afternoon, debating how to respond to Kenneth Starr's flurry of demands for documents relating to the rapidly-escalating Monica Lewinsky crisis. The special prosecutor is looking for White House logs, which, if nothing else, should tell him how many times the 24-year-old intern visited the President.

Due process notwithstanding, it seems Clinton has already been found guilty in the court of public opinion. An overnight CNN-USA Today poll shows half the respondents firmly believe the President has lied under oath about his relationship with Lewinsky. At least Clinton is given the benefit of the doubt over suborning perjury: only 39 percent believe he told his former intern to lie about their affair.

Clinton did have a powerful ally in Vernon Jordan, who made a powerful defense of his role in the scandal Thursday. And if nothing else, the President's denials are getting better. Clinton caught some flak Wednesday for denouncing the allegations in the present tense only; pressed to be more specific, he told Washington's insider paper Roll Call: "The relationship was not sexual. And I know what you mean, and the answer's no."

If the President thinks he can now put the scandal aside and address the little matter of his State of the Union speech, he is sadly mistaken. Allegations are multiplying at a frightening rate: The Washington Post reports Thursday that "sources familiar with his testimony" say Clinton's sworn deposition Saturday included his first acknowledgment that he had an affair with Gennifer Flowers. He's also alleged to have admitted under oath that he gave Lewinsky presents. The gag order in the Paula Jones case means no one can go on the record to confirm or deny this, but it's all grist to the Washington rumor mill.