[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book II)]
[August 17, 1998]
[Pages 1457-1458]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Address to the Nation on Testimony Before the Independent Counsel's 
Grand Jury
August 17, 1998

    Good evening. This afternoon in this room, from this chair, I 
testified before the Office of Independent Counsel and the grand jury. I 
answered their questions truthfully, including questions about my 
private life, questions no American citizen would ever want to answer.
    Still, I must take complete responsibility for all my actions, both 
public and private. And that is why I am speaking to you tonight.
    As you know, in a deposition in January I was asked questions about 
my relationship with Monica Lewinsky. While my answers were legally 
accurate, I did not volunteer information. Indeed, I did have a 
relationship with Ms. Lewinsky that was not appropriate. In fact, it was 
wrong. It constituted a critical lapse in judgment and a personal 
failure on my part for which I am solely and completely responsible.
    But I told the grand jury today, and I say to you now, that at no 
time did I ask anyone to lie, to hide or destroy evidence, or to take 
any other unlawful action.
    I know that my public comments and my silence about this matter gave 
a false impression. I misled people, including even my wife. I deeply 
regret that. I can only tell you I was motivated by many factors: first, 
by a desire to protect myself from the embarrassment of my own conduct. 
I was also very concerned about protecting my family. The fact that 
these questions were being asked in a politically inspired lawsuit which 
has since been dismissed was a consideration, too.
    In addition, I had real and serious concerns about an Independent 
Counsel investigation that began with private business dealings 20 years 
ago--dealings, I might add, about which an independent Federal agency 
found no evidence of any wrongdoing by me or my wife over 2 years ago. 
The Independent Counsel investigation moved on to my staff and friends, 
then into my private life. And now the investigation itself is under 
investigation. This has gone on too long, cost too much, and hurt too 
many innocent people.
    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.
    It is time to stop the pursuit of personal destruction and the 
prying into private lives and get on with our national life. Our country 
has been distracted by this matter for too long. And I take my 
responsibility for my part in all of this; this is all I can do. Now it 
is time--in fact, it is past time--to move on. We have important work to 
do, real opportunities to seize, real problems to solve, real security 
matters to face.
    And so, tonight I ask you to turn away from the spectacle of the 
past 7 months, to repair the fabric of our national discourse, and to 
return our attention to all the challenges and all the promise of the 
next American century.
    Thank you for watching, and good night.

[[Page 1458]]

Note: The President spoke at 10:02 p.m. from the Map Room at the White 
House. In his remarks, he referred to former White House intern Monica 
S. Lewinsky, subject of Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr's expanded