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Clinton Documents: 7 Excerpts You Should Read

This undated photo released by the House Judiciary Committee in 1998 shows Monica Lewinsky meeting President Bill Clinton at a White House function.
Getty Images
This undated photo released by the House Judiciary Committee in 1998 shows Monica Lewinsky meeting President Bill Clinton at a White House function.

The Clinton Presidential Library finished releasing documents on Friday that it had withheld from the public.

So far, we haven't found anything in them that tells us something we didn't already know. But many of them give insight into a tumultuous time at the White House.

Here are seven excerpts that you should read:

-- In 1994, the Clintons were in the middle of a controversy over real estate investments they had made in the Whitewater Development Corp. The Little Rock U.S. attorney was asking the Justice Department about the case and, to make matters worse, one key attorney in the scandal, Vince Foster, committed suicide. That summer, there were hearings on Capitol Hill and this memo describes the Clinton strategy:

In case you have trouble reading that, the bottom line was: "We want to discourage coverage; and so, boring is better."

Of course, much of Clinton's second term was marked by the Lewinsky scandal. Here are a few excerpts from that era:

-- Monica Lewinsky sends an email before she became internationally known:

-- Here's a message where a White House staffer asks about placing Lewinsky at the Department of Defense. According to the Starr Report, this happened after Lewinsky and Clinton had eight encounters and the White House figured this could mean trouble.

Instead, it was at the Defense Department where Lewinsky confided in Linda Tripp, who secretly recorded conversations:

-- Someone who appears to be a White House intern writes home to her mother defending Betty Currie, Clinton's personal secretary:

-- Sidney Blumenthal, an aide to President Clinton, defends the administration against allegations that it was smearing Lewinsky in the press:

-- The Clinton administration ended with the contested 2000 elections. A Supreme Court decision gave the win to George Bush, but that didn't come until early December.

That left the General Services Administration in a quandary: Should it be funding two presidential transition teams? The answer was no.

-- Clinton was responsible for the "don't ask, don't tell" policy in the military. It brought up complicated questions. One of them: Does holding hands constitute a homosexual action?

Note: The caption with the image of Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton wrongly said the photo was taken in 1998. The photo from Getty Images is undated, but it was released by the House Judiciary Committee in 1998. We've since tweaked the caption.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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