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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Clinton Testimony Kept Hush

WASHINGTON -- Behind closed doors in the White House, U.S. President Bill Clinton repeated what he has said before in public -- that he never pressured an Arkansas businessman into granting an illegal loan, according to a source familiar with his testimony.

Clinton gave 4 1/2 hours of videotaped testimony Sunday as a defense witness in the criminal trial of his former Whitewater business partners. After months of seeking to stay in the background of the Whitewater case, the president took center stage as prosecutors and defense lawyers questioned him throughout the afternoon.

After testifying for the defense for 45 minutes and a brief break, the president faced more than three hours of cross-examination by the prosecution. No other details of his testimony could be learned as participants were under a court-imposed gag order.

The White House emphasized that Clinton is not a defendant in the case and has not been accused of any criminal wrongdoing.

"The president has consistently stated that he will provide the court whatever information he can offer, and today's deposition fulfills that promise," a White House statement said. It noted that other presidents, including Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan, have provided testimony in criminal trials.

The taped deposition has been sealed by the court pending its showing to the jury hearing the case in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Clinton's testimony had been sought by defendants James and Susan McDougal, the president's two partners in the Whitewater land deal in the 1980s, to rebut claims by a key prosecution witness about allegedly improper government-secured loans.

U.S. District Judge George Howard Jr., who is presiding over the proceedings from Little Rock via satellite, has ordered the Clinton testimony sealed for at least 30 days. The satellite transmissions were being scrambled to prevent eavesdropping. Clinton aides have expressed concern that while the president is not a target of the trial, the tape would be used by political opponents, with snippets showing up in campaign attack ads.