Clinton: Let's Go to the Videotape

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The date: August 17. The place: The White House Map Room. The event: President Clinton's long-awaited grand jury testimony in the Monica Lewinsky investigation -- not live, but on Memorex. Ending a tense week of negotiation with Ken Starr's office, Clinton attorney David Kendall announced that his boss will provide videotaped testimony three weeks from now -- a special dispensation from Starr, who agreed to withdraw his subpoena as part of the bargain. Clinton will now avoid the embarrassment of becoming the first president to testify in front of a federal grand jury, not to mention the security nightmare of busing jurors into the White House.

Special Report Score another one for Starr. Clinton has "lost the war so far, in that he has to appear," says TIME Washington correspondent Michael Weisskopf. For his part, Kendall drove home the point that Clinton will "voluntarily provide his testimony," rather than fighting it in the courts. While that is certainly a novel tactic when it comes to White House relations with Starr, Clinton could hardly do otherwise -- a protracted battle would not have pleased Democrats in Congress. Other small victories for Clinton: He will have his lawyers present, and Monica will likely testify first. Chances are, however, the President would have preferred not to talk in the first place.