War of the Tapes, Part II

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WASHINGTON: Get ready for Data Dump, the Sequel. With 16 boxes and tens of thousands of pages left to release, the House Judiciary Committee is preparing to plow through a second load of Ken Starr's supporting evidence. Ostensibly, the members are somberly protecting the innocent and striking sensitive sexual material from the record; in reality, they're battling along the usual partisan lines to release or hold whatever they think will help or hurt their parties. A minor brawl has already broken out over the Tripp tapes -- which, according to Democrats, will dramatically bolster the President's position. Monica Lewinsky is heard to say her denial of a sexual relationship is accurate (because she and the President never actually had sexual intercourse), while her elder coworker comes across as extraordinarily manipulative -- especially when heard on tape. Some Republicans want to hold the ripe-for-prime-time audio until the FBI rules on whether or not it was tampered with. Their opponents smell a rat. "It would be awfully hypocritical if they went about saying, 'No, not these tapes,'" said Rep. Jerrold Nadler.

Special Report Not all the remaining material helps Clinton's cause, of course. The video of the President's January 17 deposition in the Paula Jones case, for example, still lurks in the wings. It reportedly shows a despondent Clinton mumbling his words and being asked to speak up by the judge. He is also said to be staring right at Robert Bennett when the attorney makes his crucial claim that there was "no sex, period" between the President and Lewinsky -- a statement Clinton told the grand jury he hadn't "focused on." And lest Democrats think they can get this over with quickly, Starr sent a cautionary word to Dick Gephardt Wednesday: There are still another 20 boxes of Zippergate evidence, and he "stands ready" to release it. There should also be material coming on the other Clinton "-gates" (Filegate, Travelgate, Whitewater), but for now the independent prosecutor isn't saying what or when.