Changing the subject
Buoyed by his strong performance in the State of the Union address Tuesday night and a vigorous defense by Hillary Rodham Clinton and congressional Democrats, President Clinton managed to divert some attention from his legal problems to his political proposals last week.
White House aides, struggling with accusations of an alleged Clinton affair and cover-up, were encouraged by polls showing an audience that rivaled the Super Bowl tuning into the Tuesday night speech and approving of what Clinton had to say. An NBC News poll found that 77 percent of those surveyed supported the policies Clinton outlined in his speech; 12 percent opposed them.
Having assembled an agenda of so-called “kitchen table” issues, including raising the minimum wage, lowering class sizes and offering child-care subsidies, the White House is counting on the popularity of those issues to give Clinton clout in Congress.
“I would not try to pretend to know exactly how this will play out,” said White House communications director Ann Lewis, “but ultimately the strength of the president’s agenda lies in the fact that it represents issues that people care about.”
First things first
On Thursday, the judge in the Paula Jones sexual harassment lawsuit against Clinton ruled that evidence about the Lewinsky matter could not be considered in the Jones case. Admitting such evidence “would frustrate the timely resolution of this case and would undoubtedly cause undue expense, cost and delay,” U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright wrote.
Meanwhile, a federal grand jury subpoenaed White House documents and past and present Clinton aides who may know something about Lewinsky.
Wait for it, Saddam
The Clinton administration laid groundwork for possible U.S.-led airstrikes on Iraq last week.
With Iraq and the United Nations in a standoff over U.N. inspections intended to ensure that Iraq has eliminated weapons of mass destruction, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright went abroad to muster support for military intervention among U.S. allies in Europe and the Middle East.
At home, congressional Republicans backed Clinton’s hard line against Saddam Hussein.
Last year’s scandal
In the first indictment stemming from the federal investigation into fund-raising illegalities during the 1996 campaign, a federal grand jury Wednesday brought charges against Yah Lin “Charlie” Trie, a longtime friend of President Clinton, and Antonio Pan, another Democratic fund-raiser.
Although the Justice Department refused to reveal the full contents of the indictments, officials said the charges stem from allegations that the two engaged in a “straw donor” scheme, collecting money from foreign businessmen not eligible to contribute to U.S. political campaigns and then distributing the money to U.S. citizens. Investigators have said the funds were then funneled to Democratic Party campaign committees and the Presidential Legal Defense Trust, a fund-raising organization created to help Clinton pay his attorneys’ fees.
Master plan, what plan?
After spending five years and $9 million on the Lincoln Street bridge, the city learned late last week from the state Department of Ecology that the project violates Spokane’s own shoreline master plan.
“This was the only decision we could make,” said Tony Grover, regional director of the DOE, on Friday. Any activity that “will tend to lessen or obliterate in part the falls and rapid areas” is forbidden.
City officials were stunned.
“We honestly don’t know what we’ll do until we know specifically what they’ve said,” said City Manager Bill Pupo.
Councilwoman Cherie Rodgers had no trouble coming up with a response to the state finding.
“It looks like the DOE just saved the city about $40 million,” she said.
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The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Compiled by news editor Kevin Graman from staff and wire reports.