June 04, 1998 12:00 AM

For the first time in the long history of the Monica Lewinsky affair, President Clinton admitted on Friday, his very last day in office, that he made false statements in the case. As part of a deal with prosecutors in order to avert an indictment, the outgoing Chief Executive surrendered his law license for five years and agreed to pay a $25,000 fine. “I tried to walk a fine line between acting lawfully and testifying falsely,” said Clinton in a 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.” He added, “I hope my actions today will help bring closure and finality to these matters.” The deal, said to have been finessed between the White House and independent counsel Robert Ray, will spare Clinton from being prosecuted — and spare the nation from having to witness the indictment of a former President.

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