News about former White House intern Monica Lewinsky was overshadowed on Friday by reports of twin bombings which caused dozens of deaths at two American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
Those who've been following the Clinton White House say trouble abroad offers yet another critical test for the President, and an opportunity for him to show leadership skills during the crisis.
Washington woke up on Friday morning with news of two bombing attacks on American embassies in Africa.
Although officials figures were still unavailable early Friday afternoon, some 80 people were believed to have died in the blasts and 1-thousand more injured. At least six Americans are believed to have been among the victims.
Network TV correspondents took up their usual positions outside the White House on Friday.
But instead of the usual speculation about Monica Lewinsky, attention was focused on Kenya, Tanzania and how the U-S would respond to the terrorist attacks.
The most senior of White House correspondents, U-P-I's Helen Thomas, has spent some 30 years watching presidents handle crises.
She says Clinton shows a remarkable flexibility when it comes to handling trouble at home and abroad.
"It shows you that the president can't be one dimensional, that he really has all these other things to deal with. So, I think this president's ability to compartmentalise has been to his favour, and probably to the country's, because he's never known one day since he's been where when he hasn't been investigated."
SUPER CAPTION: Helen Thomas, UPI White House Correspondent.
Others felt the bombing - while regrettable - would give Clinton a chance to show his leadership skills and turn attention away from the domestic scandal.
"Apart from anything else it takes up valuable air time, which otherwise would be spent speculating about Monica Lewinsky. So from that point of view he would be glad of distraction, although this is a very sad even which has happened in Africa. But from the other point of view also it makes him look presidential, because it's these kind of crises that really bring the country together and make the American people look toward the president for guidance."
SUPER CAPTION: Tom Carver, BBC Washington Correspondent.
Attention won't be diverted for long however, Lewinsky's testimony has set the stage for President Clinton's grand jury testimony August 17th.
Sources say Lewinsky told the panel yesterday she and Clinton did have sex at the White House. Clinton has denied that, including in his sworn testimony in the Paula Jones lawsuit.
Speculation about the case is still rife in Washington.
"They were pretty sure she lied before, so it's hard to decide if she's really a credible witness or not. But I think she's probably telling the truth."
SUPER CAPTION: Angela Gill. American tourist.
"I think it was pretty evident she was telling the truth. And I think she has a strong case and it shouldn't have been made such a big deal of. He should have just admitted, she admitted it., two adults, and it would have been over."
SUPER CAPTION: Mike Pabian. American tourist.
The Washington grand jury may want to hear more from Monica Lewinsky. Her lawyer says she hasn't been told yet if she'll be called back.
The former White House intern spent about six hours testifying before the grand jury on Thursday.
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