Today's Papers

Ain’t It Grand?

USA Today

, the New York Times and Los Angeles Times lead with President Clinton’s unprecedented grand jury appearance today. The Washington Post shows it knows its way beyond the Beltway, putting Clinton/grand jury as the off-lead and going instead with the news that a suspect has been detained in the Kenya embassy bombing, a story that makes everybody’s front page. (Although, in its version of the story, USAT curiously leaves the arrest out of the headline, which instead trumpets the State Dept.’s warning against travel to Pakistan.)

The big concern of the Clinton leads is, of course, What will he say? All the papers cite widespread indications that he is ready to acknowledge that he engaged in some sort of sexual activity with Monica Lewinsky. The LAT quotes presidential private lawyer David Kendall as saying that the widely reported prediction that Clinton will cop to an “inappropriate relationship” with Lewinsky–is “groundless speculation.” But the LAT quotes one “lawyer familiar with the matter” as saying that this is indeed the phrase he’s heard mentioned by “folks at the White House.” The WP quotes sources who have spoken to Clinton and his lawyers as saying he plans to admit to “sex play,” but (taking the line first adumbrated by last Friday’s NYT) not to a “sexual relationship.” The Post compares this tack to such previous Clinton hair-splits as his various explanations of his marijuana use, his draft situation, and those White House coffees for political donors.

The papers say that Clinton is expected to deny that he asked Lewinsky or anyone else to cover up the relationship. The LAT quotes that well-connected lawyer as saying that Starr may come armed with a subpoena in his pocket for Clinton–who technically is appearing today voluntarily–in case Clinton tries to duck any of the prosecutors’ questions. The NYT gives an excellent feel for the difficulties such questions might pose, ticking off details challenging various previous Clinton statements, garnered from the grand jury appearances of Betty Currie, Vernon Jordan and Secret Service personnel.

The papers quote presidential sources as saying that if Clinton makes any sort of post-testimony public statement, it will come from his private quarters in the White House, not the Oval Office.

The Wall Street Journal dedicates a front-page feature to the question of how history will judge Clinton in light of his aspirations, his accomplishments and his scandals. The piece quotes one writer’s hesitance to change his rating of Clinton for the paperback version of his book, going to press soon. His explanation for holding off: “The jury is still out….”

The WP lead reports that an Arab man arrested by Pakistan authorities the day of the Kenya bombing, because of his presentation of a questionable passport after he came off a flight from Nairobi, has acknowledged “calmly and proudly” being a member of the seven-man team that pulled off the Nairobi embassy attack. What’s more, according to the Post the man says the team was put together and financed by the leading suspect, Saudi millionaire Osama bin Laden. (The NYT says merely that the man is suspected of being a bin Laden associate or supporter.) According to the WP, the man is now in U.S. custody. The LAT says he’s in Kenyan custody. The Post reports he says the other six bombers slipped by authorities at the Karachi airport. And, the papers note, bin Laden is ensconced in Afghanistan.

The NYT off-lead reports that U.S. intelligence agencies have detected a huge underground complex in North Korea that seems to be designed for the secret resumption of the country’s nuclear weapons program, officially frozen by the North Koreans in return for the promise of billions in Western aid.

A NYT op-ed by former Sen. Larry Pressler gives a damning insight into the contemporary political mind. The point of the piece is for the author to rue the state of contemporary politics from the perspective of one suddenly removed from it by an election loss, but what he mostly communicates instead is that he loves his newfound ability to: take more and better vacations, to be a star panelist (on “losers”) at a Rennaissance Weekend, and to fly first class and buy a Japanese motorcycle and take free trips from corporations without having to explain himself.

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