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CLINTON TAPED TESTIMONY PROTECTED

The Supreme Court today refused to order the public release of President Clinton's videotaped testimony in the 1996 criminal trial of his former Whitewater partners.

The justices, without comment, turned away arguments by Citizens United, an organization of Clinton critics, that a lower court improperly refused to release the tape.

The president testified by videotape in April 1996 from the White House in defense of then-Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker and former Clinton business associates James and Susan McDougal.

The McDougals said only Clinton could dispute accusations that they plotted to defraud government-backed lenders.

An edited version of the president's testimony was shown to jurors in federal court in Little Rock. All three defendants were convicted.

The court released transcripts of Clinton's testimony, but a federal judge refused to release the videotape as sought by news organizations, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and Citizens United.

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