Editor: Lewinsky Tapes Don't Confirm Affair
But former White House intern reportedly says she would lie
WASHINGTON (CNN, Jan. 22) -- Journalists who have heard tapes purported to be a former White House intern worrying about her sexual relationship with President Clinton said Thursday that nothing on the portion of the tapes they have heard confirms the claim is true.
Whitewater special prosecutor Kenneth Starr is said to have in his possession tapes of conversations between the intern, Monica Lewinsky, and a friend of hers, Linda Tripp, during which Lewinsky discussed the affair in detail.
Ann McDaniel, Washington bureau chief of Newsweek magazine, told CNN on Thursday there are 20 hours of tapes and that she and other Newsweek personnel have heard 90 minutes of them.
Read quotes from the tapes as reported by Newsweek
Newsweek story by Michael Isikoff
"It's clear that Monica Lewinsky is telling her friend Linda Tripp that she's had a sexual relationship with President Clinton," McDaniel said in a live interview. "There's nothing definitive that would tell you whether the affair actually occurred or not. But it's obvious that Monica Lewinsky had been telling Tripp this for a long period of time."
McDaniel summarizes what she heard on the tape 356K/33 sec. AIFF or WAV sound
"It's very unclear from the tape," McDaniel said, "whether Lewinsky's story of an affair with Clinton is "perhaps a small flirtation ... that she's exaggerated into something else or whether she is telling the absolute truth."
Lewinsky also reportedly told Tripp that Clinton and his friend, Washington attorney Vernon Jordan, both encouraged her to lie about the affair while being deposed -- answering questions under oath -- by attorneys for Paula Jones, the former Arkansas state employee who has accused the president of sexual harassment.
Asked whether Lewinsky sounded believable, McDaniel said, "It's simply impossible to know from the tapes. Both women sound quite distraught. They're discussing the fact that they've been subpoenaed to be deposed in the Paula Jones case."
"Linda Tripp is saying, 'If I am asked if you told me you had an affair with the president, I'm going to have to say yes,' and Monica Lewinsky is saying 'oh, I can't do that, I can't do that.'"
"They both debate whether they should (reveal what Lewinsky has told Tripp). They never mention the president by name," McDaniel said. "Instead, they call him 'the creep,' or 'the one.' They talk ... about whether they should tell (President Clinton) that Monica Lewinsky has told Tripp about the affair."
Other highlights from the McDaniel interview:
- "(Lewinsky) sounds quite fond of the president ... but on the 90 minutes I've heard there's nothing that's sexually explicit."
- Lewinsky says "repeatedly" on the tape she would lie (about her relationship with the president). "At one point in the tape she says, 'I've lied all my life.'"
- McDaniel said "there's nothing specific" on the portion of the tapes she's heard that would confirm or deny allegations that Jordan asked Lewinsky to lie about her relationship with the president.
"There are some references to Vernon by his first name and a hint that he was helping her get a job," McDaniel said, " ... but she does not say specifically that (Clinton or Jordan) told her to lie." Clinton denies having asked Jordan or anyone else to lie in the matter.
- "(Lewinsky) doesn't sound crazy. She sounds fragile, as if she is in an extremely difficult spot."
- "There's a discussion of an exchange of gifts (between Clinton and Lewinsky). It's a bit vague. (Lewinsky) makes reference to a dress that the president may have given her. There's also talk about photographs. They sound like official White House photographs but there's at least one where there is a personal inscription that Monica Lewinsky thinks if others see, it will be incriminating, so she's talking about calling the president's personal secretary, Betty Curry, and asking for a clean copy of that photo so she can comply with the subpoena."
- "There's also indication ... that there were at least nine packages sent by Monica Lewinsky ... to the president's personal secretary, Betty Curry, between October and December of 1997. Sources tell us that some of those packages were letters and that Monica Lewinsky claims that at least one of them was a sexually provocative audio tape."
CNN's John King contributed to this report.