THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP
HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN
JOINED BY: PATRICK BUCHANAN, ELEANOR CLIFT,
CHRISTOPHER MATTHEWS AND LAWRENCE O'DONNELL
TAPED FRIDAY, AUGUST 21, 1998
AIRED THE WEEKEND OF AUGUST 22-23, 1998
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ANNOUNCER: From the nation's capital, "The McLaughlin Group," an unrehearsed program presenting inside opinions and forecasts on major issues of the day. GE is proud to support the McLaughlin Group: "From lighting to financial services, GE, we bring good things to life."
Here's the host, John McLaughlin.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: August surprise.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: (From videotape.) Our target was terror. Our mission was clear, to strike at the network of radical groups affiliated with and funded by Ussamah bin Laden, perhaps the preeminent organizer and financier of international terrorism in the world today. Their mission is murder, and their history is bloody.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: President Clinton ordered U.S. military strikes on terrorist targets in Afghanistan and the Sudanese capital of Khartoum last Thursday. Between 75 and 100 Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from Navy warships in the Red and Arabian seas, blasted the two sites, described by Mr. Clinton as a "chemical weapons factory in Khartoum" and a "terrorist training camp in Afghanistan run by Osama bin Laden," the notorious millionaire Saudi expatriate, whom the president says played a key role in the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania two weeks ago.
The action gained strong support from Republican senators Helms, Hatch, McCain and Specter. Speaker Gingrich also endorsed the commander-in-chief's decisive action, but the backing was not universal.
SEN. DAN COATS (R-IN): (From videotape.) I am questioning the timing. And I certainly believe that the timing will be used, and the incident will be used, by our adversaries, by the Islamic nations, to indicate that this was a misguided judgment and an inappropriate response.
I think the (president ?) -- (audio break) -- States in a dangerous situation.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: On Friday, Senator Coats said that he now believes that the evidence for bombing the Afghanistan site is credible, but he still thinks that the president has broken the bonds of trust and now cannot lead the free world. Question: is Coats right in saying that the president, in his present situation, cannot lead the free world, Pat Buchanan?
MR. BUCHANAN: John, he has broken the bonds of trust and his credibility and moral authority are damaged, but de facto the president of the United States is the leader of the free world. With regard to this raid, there was every justification for it. It was a retaliatory strike, it's a pre-emptive strike, it was decided a week ahead of time, unanimously in the Ex Com of the National Security Council. There is not a scintilla of evidence that the president timed this for political reasons, and I think the Republicans who have stood behind the president in these strikes are exactly right. One question we ought to look at is, are we going to get into a war against terrorism?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: Well, I think Pat's exactly right. I mean, the president, by acting, showed that he can act. I mean, he refuted Senator Coats' argument right there. And in fact, this notion that the timing was designed to distract from Lewinsky -- if anything, the world is nervous that we have an American president who's weak. I mean, this is reassuring to the rest of the world, and I think the timing is defensible. If it weren't, you would have had a resignation from the defense secretary, Bill Cohen, you would have had this leaked by members of the military establishment who didn't go along with it. Nothing that -- it was a total -- it was the best kept secret we've had in this town as long as I can remember.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Christopher?
MR. MATTHEWS: I think the great thing was that he picked a Republican to be his secretary of defense a couple of years ago, and I think that's the critical chain in this link (sic) of command here, I think, the fact that Bill Cohen's behind this as part of the national security team. And also, you know, let's look at it this way. Split -- do it the other way -- if he hadn't acted, people would say he was frozen, he was stuck. So how's he win?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence?
MR. O'DONNELL: Well, I don't think it's diminished his worldwide authority at all, this scandal. I don't think that's what the world looks at in these situations, but I would be prepared to entertain a mini-"Wag the Dog" theory here just in terms of maybe the 24- or 48-hour period in which this was possible. Could this have been done the day before, instead of rushing off to Martha's Vineyard? Was it considered useful to them to have it done a couple of news cycles after the speech? Could it have been done on Monday while he was testifying and giving the speech? So there may well be a certain amount of timing involved.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, before you go forward, let me point out that two of our allies -- I think we would call Russia an ally, would we not, rather than an adversary?
MR. O'DONNELL: We do now.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We do now. And France, which speaks with some pretense of being a world power, they disapproved of the action. Particularly Yeltsin, who was very harsh in what he had to say, which was, "My attitude is indeed negative, as it would be to any act of terrorism, military interference or failure to solve a problem through talk. This is indecent. I am outraged and denounce this." Lebanon, of course, denounced it. Iran denounced it. All of our friends, practically, with the single exception of Egypt, as far as I know, in that region of the world, our Arab friends, they denounced it.
MR. BUCHANAN: What that tells you, John, is exactly what we've been talking about for a long time here, the gradual diminution of American moral authority, respect and standing throughout the Arab and Muslim world, to the point where our own allies over there, like Egypt and Saudi Arabia, cannot be seen any longer as too closely identified with the United States. We have a terrible problem because we are virtually alone out there in what we are doing.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are we going to pay a price for this that will be disproportionate for the good that's been derived from it?
MR. BUCHANAN: You're going to have terrorism.
MS. CLIFT: You can't -- you know, this is nonsense. You're going to pin this on Bill Clinton that the allies in the Middle East aren't -- you know, this is a far more complicated subject.
MR. MATTHEWS: One thing you notice since the Bill Clinton speech, and absolutely claptrap for the domestic consumption, is that these people over there who are like this guy bin Salaam (sic) or whatever his name is, is some enemy of democracy. They don't sit down and say "We're enemies of democracy." They don't like Israel. They don't like Israel's biggest brother in the world, which is us. They disagree with us in geopolitics. Let's grow up and stop the Wilsonian rhetoric here. This is their side against our side. And I think that Clinton's got to accept the fact that if he goes to war with terrorists, they're going to be at war with us, just like the Irish Protestants and Catholics.
MS. CLIFT: Well, wait a second.
MR. MATTHEWS: If you kill them, they'll kill you back.
MS. CLIFT: They declared war first.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You make a good point. Let's follow through with that. Don't you think that all the talk about hardening the embassies so that they will be resistant to this type of terrorist activity really is going to the symptoms rather than the cause? That if we were able to work through a peace agreement with the Israelis and the Palestinians, we would cut terrorism by at least 50 percent? Should we not be focused on that?
MR. BUCHANAN: No.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I ask you, Lawrence.
MR. O'DONNELL: These people are not part of the peace negotiating process. This guy isn't going to be at a negotiating table at any time in his life. He is going to do this until the day he dies.
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The problem is that Madeleine Albright is still awaiting orders from Clinton.
MR. BUCHANAN: You don't understand, John, what these people want is one thing. They want the American military presence gone. They want our cultural influence out of their region. They have their own, if you will, Monroe Doctrine.
MS. CLIFT: Wait a second.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MR. BUCHANAN: They just want to get rid of the United States of America.
MS. CLIFT: When we say "these people," the president was very right in pointing out that this is a small number of fanatics and we don't want to turn this into a holy, religious war; that most Muslims do not agree with this action.
MR. BUCHANAN: Eleanor, there's a lot of --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, can I get some support from you for my point --
MS. CLIFT: I would love it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- that if there were a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians --
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- the terrorism quotient in the world would be cut by half?
MS. CLIFT: Oh, I agree with you. And if --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So therefore we ought to really focus on that, as well as -- we're talking about hardening our sites --
MS. CLIFT: Well, that's right, but nothing's going to happen with Netanyahu in power.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, I don't agree with you. I don't agree with you. I think there ought to be a peace agreement, but if you think that's going to solve the problem of the Muslim fundamentalists who want us out of that region --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, I didn't say "solve," I said "cut in half" -- cut in half.
MS. CLIFT: Help solve. (Off mike) -- help solve -- (off mike).
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit: Was the timing of the strikes -- now this is a little nuanced, Lawrence, and I know you can handle it; Chris, pay close attention!~ (Laughter.) Was the timing of the strikes advanced or retarded by even a single day because of Bill Clinton's enfeebled political state?
MR. BUCHANAN: There is no evidence at all of that. No.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Not even by a single day?
MR. BUCHANAN: I don't think so.
MS. CLIFT: Absolutely not, because people who disagreed and thought that was happening would leak it to the media in a minute. It hasn't happened.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Not even a single day?
MS. CLIFT: Not a single day. Not a scintilla.
MR. MATTHEWS: I don't think so. No evidence. You need evidence, John; you don't have any.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No evidence?
MR. MATTHEWS: You don't have any! Do you have any evidence it was set by politics? You don't have any.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence?
MR. O'DONNELL: No evidence, other than Bill Clinton's personality and needs. I think it's possible -- possible -- that it was delayed a day.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it was certainly fortuitous -- came in on Thursday, before the talk shows of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, in time for the evening news? Dramatic departure?
MR. O'DONNELL: The rhythm was perfect. The rhythm was perfect.
MS. CLIFT: You know --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know, that -- Air Force One taking off from Martha's Vineyard --
MR. O'DONNELL: Plus coming back.
MS. CLIFT: You know, John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- landing at Andrews, helicopter on to the South Lawn, walking up the South Lawn, dressed in a great suit?
MR. O'DONNELL: And he gets a night alone in the White House without having to answer to Hillary. (Laughter, cross talk.)
MS. CLIFT: You know, given the fact that you're all going to scream about his lack of credibility, why would anybody in the government go out on a limb for him to change the timing? It does not compute.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is what I think: I think it's quite possible it was advanced or retarded by a day, two days, three days. But I think it was warranted.
(Laughter, cross talk.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When we come back: Bill Clinton and the Big Lie.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: The Big Lie.
PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: (Videotape from January 1998.) But I want to say one thing to the American people. I want you to listen to me. I'm going to say this again. I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: (Videotape from August 1998.) Indeed I did have a relationship with Miss Lewinsky that was not appropriate. In fact, it was wrong.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: President Clinton's Monday night speech appeared to many as strangely devoid of true emotion, except anger. His only passion was reserved for the attacks on Ken Starr's motivations. He also appeared to be angry at being caught, analysts say. In general, congressmen and senators on both sides of the aisle saw the Clinton statement less as a confession and more as a performance.
Question: How seriously has President Clinton's credibility been damaged at home and abroad by his public admission that he has been lying to the American people for seven months? Eleanor Clift.
MS. CLIFT: Well, I think we answered the question about abroad. I mean, the rest of the world looks at this as silly that a superpower would tie itself into knots over a sex scandal.
At home he is going to pay a price. He is going to pay a price in his legacy principally. But I think I want to quote Mario Cuomo who said, you know, "Credibility to do what, to go out with your sister or to run the country?" He has proven that he can run the country, and most people think that we should let him put this behind him and let him go ahead and do his job.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Chris Matthews?
MR. MATTHEWS: I think Sunday was devastating for a reason that we inside the Beltway don't always catch on to. We've all sort of agreed in this city that there was something there; I mean, most people have agreed on that. Outside the country (sic), I think, a lot of Americans, Clinton supporters and middle-of-the-road people, were harboring the hopes that maybe it didn't happen.
It came home to them on Monday like a power house; this guy's been caught. He talked on Monday like he was a prisoner of war reading the statement written by his captors. He was caught. And in his first time to the -- and that's why the polls have been dropping all week.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence, he also gave testimony, as you well know, before the grand jury last Monday, the very day when he gave the four-minute speech that evening.
MR. O'DONNELL: -- in which he adopted my strategy of not answering every question.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes. But I wish to know this: Do you feel that he perjured himself last Monday during that testimony, especially in the light of what Lewinsky is said to have said in her testimony and other developments, other leaks that we have heard about?
MR. O'DONNELL: I believe that Ken Starr is now developing the perjury case that he is going to make out of the grand jury testimony, largely --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you talking about the gifts?
MR. O'DONNELL: -- largely on the matter of the gifts. And Clinton's grand jury testimony, it seems, based on the leaks so far, that he has said it's a mystery as to how those gifts moved after the fact.
MR. MATTHEWS: Right.
MR. O'DONNELL: And he is putting Betty Currie in the middle on this, and her testimony clearly will be that it wasn't her.
MR. BUCHANAN: John?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now I know that you may have missed this because you live in La-La land, L.A., correct?
MR. O'DONNELL: That's correct.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And the New York Times reports -- correct me if I am wrong -- (laughter) -- but that --
MR. O'DONNELL: We get the New York Times. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- he said in his testimony that he instructed Monica Lewinsky that she had to turn the gifts over to the lawyers of Paula Jones, but Betty Currie may have a different story because she went over to retrieve them.
MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And Monica herself may have had a different story, as the Times also suggests.
MR. BUCHANAN: John? John?
MR. O'DONNELL: Yes.
MR. BUCHANAN: Look, I think the guy not only perjured himself about Betty Currie --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: On Monday?
MR. BUCHANAN: -- on Monday -- I think he also did about sex and all the rest of it. And I think that whoever let the president of the United States go in there where he either had to admit perjury or commit perjury, and then he went ahead and did both -- I think the guy is headed down, John, and I don't see any way out.
MS. CLIFT: Well, two people telling different stories is not necessarily perjury.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, we've got three people.
MS. CLIFT: You've got to prove perjury.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've got Betty, we've got Monica --
MS. CLIFT: All right three people telling us a story.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and we've got Bill.
MS. CLIFT: But let's put this in perspective. This is possible grand jury perjury that is designed to obstruct justice in the Paula Jones case about an issue of the case that the lawyers had no business questioning about in the beginning because --
MR. BUCHANAN: But he is obstructing justice now in a criminal investigation.
MS. CLIFT: -- it was immaterial. And the commingling --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hey, hey, Eleanor, you have got a point.
MR. BUCHANAN: He is obstructing justice now in a criminal investigation, and Starr has a lot more obstruction of justice when it's done, you see.
MS. CLIFT: But it goes to the Paula Jones case. And the commingling of those two cases, that's very disturbing.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay.
MS. CLIFT: This is not going to a court of law; it's going to Capitol Hill, where human judgments will be rendered --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'd like another question.
MS. CLIFT: And the question is does the punishment fit the crime --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If there were no DNA potential match-up, would Clinton have admitted anything at his grand jury testimony on Monday?
MR. MATTHEWS: Not in a million years. Not in a million years. The only thing he admits to is what he's caught doing. That's why he looked like a POW Monday night, because he was only reading what they had on him, and the --
MR. O'DONNELL: But based on what we know he did not admit anything at the grand jury testimony.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he admitted an inappropriate relationship --
MR. O'DONNELL: Inappropriate? We don't know what that is, and then he refused to answer any specific questions.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, no. He also admitted that there was --
(Growl from panel member.)
MR. O'DONNELL: But he denies, apparently, that there were "sexual relations," as he puts it.
MR. BUCHANAN: I can't believe --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he's admitted intimate sex, did he not?
MR. MATTHEWS: No, no, no -- not even that, not even that.
MR. O'DONNELL: No, it's not at all clear that he did that.
MR. MATTHEWS: He admits -- inappropriate encounters.
MS. CLIFT: It's a tortured legal explanation. Frankly, I think he should have taken the rap for perjury in a civil case.
MR. MATTHEWS: Me, too. Absolutely, absolutely.
MS. CLIFT: It's not a big deal.
MR. BUCHANAN: What's going to happen -- look what's going to follow. Starr's going to drop his report, boom; Linda Tripp's tapes, boom; Democrats lose in November, boom; impeachment Congress in February -- this guy's going to be -- I mean he's got more booms than --
MS. CLIFT: Well, I've got another boom in there, though. The Republicans -- Republicans overplay their hand, boom. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: alphabetically grade the president's speech Monday night. One composite grade, content and delivery. Pat Buchanan?
MR. BUCHANAN: He gets a D-minus or an F. It's a failure.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's a failure. Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: Solid B in the country. It was enough for the country. It did not satisfy the media elite or the political community; it gets a D with them.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you give him?
MR. MATTHEWS: Well, somewhere between an N and O. (Laughter.) I don't think there was anything to it.
MR. BUCHANAN: N and O!
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: F?
MR. MATTHEWS: No -- no! I think he had it -- any first grader could have written that speech for him; they would have put the two words in, "I'm sorry." He didn't say that. What he did say was "I'm caught," and that did not work politically.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Ah, well, he said other things, too. He moved it over to Starr, and then he brought Hillary into try to shield himself, in the family shield. Did you say on your -- what is that program you do?
MR. MATTHEWS: It's called "Hard Ball." It's on every night.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: "Hard Ball." Okay. Did you say on that program you thought he came across as a con artist?
MR. MATTHEWS: No, no. I said what I said here, which was that he came across as a guy who was caught, a prisoner of war, a person who -- you know how they read the statements --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he's starting to look like a con artist? Did you say that at all?
MR. MATTHEWS: No, no, no. That's not me.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you say it?
MR. O'DONNELL: No, I did not say it.
MR. MATTHEWS: I think I --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it's true?
MR. BUCHANAN: Why don't you say it, John?
MR. O'DONNELL: No, I didn't say think he looks like a con artist. I think he looks like the president of the United States.
MR. MATTHEWS: I think -- oh, John, I did say -- John, I remember my vocabulary. I called him a flim-flam man. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You did!
MR. MATTHEWS: Yeah. Flim-flam.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, there you go. What do you think of that? Well, what's the question?
MR. O'DONNELL: The grade -- the grade I would give him is what we used to call in my college a "gentleman's C."
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A gentleman's C. Actually, he gets a C-double minus for showing up. (Laughter.)
Issue three: It's nobody's business but ours.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: (From videotape.) Now this matter is between me, the two people I love most, my wife and our daughter, and our God. I must put it right, and I am prepared to do whatever it takes to do so. Nothing is more important to me personally; but it is private, and I intend to reclaim my family life for my family. It's nobody's business but ours. Even presidents have private lives.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: By describing his actions as between him, his family and, quote, "our God," Mr. Clinton is trying to cloak his misbehavior with the shield of family privacy, insulating the wrongdoing, as many commentators have noted.
But from the moment the president forcefully lied about this to the public back in January, it became a public matter. Mr. Clinton's misbehavior happened on public property, with a public employee who was barely of legal age. And its concealment was a matter that extended to senior members of the Cabinet, all public officials, who rose to the president's defense.
(Videotape from a January press conference with the Cabinet.)
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT (secretary of state): I believe that the allegations are completely untrue.
WILLIAM DALEY (secretary of commerce): I'll second that.
(Cries of "I'll second that, too," "Third it," and other remarks from various Cabinet members.)
(End of videotape sequence.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Adulterous behavior seldom remains private. In Mr. Clinton's case, it involved at least one person outside the family. That person was a government employee at the Pentagon, who had favors done for her at the behest of the president, a salaried public official, favors such as getting her job offers in New York, so she would be silent, editorialists are now saying.
Question: Is it too late for the president to shield himself in family privacy, Chris Matthews?
MR. MATTHEWS: Well, everything's changed. I mean, most people believe in "Don't knock, don't open, don't ask, don't tell." Most people believe in that in the country, and I think they generally honor that in the press. The press went too far with Gary Hart when they staked him out and caught him in what was clearly a private matter.
I think if President Clinton, with a reasonable space of time passing, had a private relationship with a woman outside of government, maybe a campaign contributor or a wife of a campaign contributor, at a private evening somewhere, no one would consider that within the bounds of coverage. However, if he goes after another intern, he goes after another young employee working for him, at the bottom of the food chain, he's back in play again.
And what I don't like about the people who defend what he's done so far is if you can defend what he's done so far, then keep up your defense, because he's going to keep doing it.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, nobody --
MR. O'DONNELL: The answer is, he will continue to use his family, as all politicians continue to use their families in any direction that they find useful on any given day.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it's a phoney shield, that this is obviously a public matter?
MR. O'DONNELL: It always is. Family is always a phoney shield.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat?
MR. BUCHANAN: John, this is focus group nonsense he's putting out there. They told him to say this is private stuff, bring in the family, and bring in the Lord. The point is, John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, you'd find a lot of people who will say this is a personal matter.
MR. BUCHANAN: I know they will. That's why he's hitting on that particular line.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Sure.
MS. CLIFT: Well --
MR. BUCHANAN: But what Starr says -- but what Starr is saying is exactly right; this is not about adultery, it is about perjury, subornation of perjury, obstruction of justice in a civil trial and a criminal trial.
MS. CLIFT: Oh, come on. What he --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about it, Eleanor? Don't you think it's kind of a phoney argument?
MS. CLIFT: No. What he did was tacky and tawdry. But to have an investigation that starts out with a failed land deal continue long enough so that you have a government prosecutor ferreting out private behavior behind closed doors offends most people's sense of privacy that we show all -- rights that we all have in this country.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But don't you understand he -- the contention is that he provoked it all himself? He made it a public matter.
MS. CLIFT: You know, he has apologized, but in a tacky --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He made it a public matter. You have public property involved. You have public officials involved.
MS. CLIFT: It does not -- oh, come on.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You have a public employee involved.
MS. CLIFT: Come on. It does not affect public policy.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Working for the Pentagon.
MR. MATTHEWS: You know what --
MS. CLIFT: Let me finish. Let me finish. And it does not affect has ability to govern, which is what all of the polls show. They don't trust him, but they trust him to get things done and to do his job.
MR. MATTHEWS: Okay, here's where it stopped --
MR. BUCHANAN: They get him in a crime, he is gone.
MR. MATTHEWS: It stopped being private the minute the president did what you just did, which is -- let me finish, let me point this out to you. He put his finger right in our face, like you just did here, put his finger in our face --
MS. CLIFT: Well, how else do I get to finish?
MR. MATTHEWS: -- and said: Now hear this; I didn't have sexual relations with that woman.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah.
MR. MATTHEWS: That's when he opened the national conversation about this, and he can't close it whenever he feels like it.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but Chris, you've got the leading authorities saying he's got to come out and apologize, apologize. He's apologized.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quick question.
MS. CLIFT: What more should he do?
MR. MATTHEWS: I haven't heard it.
MS. CLIFT: I've heard it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quick question. Is it your felt intuition that Hillary Clinton knew about the true nature of the Monica Lewinsky relationship closer to January '98 than to August '98?
MR. BUCHANAN: When she picked up the Washington Post in January, she knew the truth, John.
MS. CLIFT: There's a difference between knowing and not knowing. And anybody who is in an intimate relationship knows the difference.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think she raised --
MS. CLIFT: You don't --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But she didn't raise it with Bill, though, did she?
MS. CLIFT: She didn't ask specific questions to get specific details, which is how we all live with each other.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Closer to January? Quickly?
MR. MATTHEWS: She's not Blondie, and he's not Dagwood. She did not pick up the papers and read about this. And their account of this is ludicrous.
MR. O'DONNELL: She's the smartest person working in the White House today. She knew it on the first day.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence is right.
MR. MATTHEWS: We're all right! (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, I'm not sure -- one of us is NOT right. (Laughter.)
We'll be right back with predictions.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Pat?
MR. BUCHANAN: John, not Monica and not the airstrikes, but the big story this coming week is going to be the collapse of the Russian economy and its spread down to South America. This was one of the worst days -- Friday was one of the worst days of the year.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: I think Janet Reno's going to go ahead and name a special counsel to investigate campaign funding abuses through Harold Ickes. So mendicity -- greed for money -- will probably take over mendacity -- lying, and -- as -- in our coverage.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hey.
MR. MATTHEWS: The real "Wag the Dog" scenario is going to be Clinton and Congress. He's going to gin up a fight with Congress in September, try to recreate the excitement and the positive vibes that came from the government shutdown in '95.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.
MR. O'DONNELL: When her job as a witness is over, Monica Lewinsky's first print interview will be with John Kennedy, Jr. in George magazine.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Ken Starr will subpoena President Clinton. Clinton will ignore the subpoena. Starr will not appeal, but Starr will make Clinton's refusal the centerpiece in his impeachment report to Congress.