Starr Gathers New Evidence, Testimony In Clinton-Lewinsky Controversy
Clinton's Lawyers To Turn Over Paula Jones Deposition
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Jan. 28) -- Federal investigators traveled to the West Coast Wednesday in their investigation into claims President Bill Clinton had an affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky and asked her to lie about it.
Two prosecutors from the office of independent counsel Ken Starr arrived in Portland, Oregon, Wednesday evening to speak to Andy Bleiler, a 32-year-old married teacher who says he had a sexual relationship with Lewinsky.
Bleiler's attorney, Terry Giles, said his client would also be turning over souvenirs, photos and documents Lewinsky sent to Bleiler while she was an intern.
"These documents are important not for their content, but they indicate certain access to the White House I would find unusual for an intern," Giles said. However, he said the photos were not of Lewinsky and Clinton.
Meanwhile, sources in Washington tell CNN that the FBI is carefully going through clothing seized from Lewinsky's apartment to see of there are any stains or other residue that might link her to the president.
Sources says that so far, agents have not come up with any solid forensic evidence.
Also, sources tell CNN that there has been a delay in a deposition that Linda Tripp was scheduled to give in the Paula Jones sexual harassment suit. It was Tripp who recorded conversations with Lewinsky. Published reports claim the intern spoke of a sexual relationship with Clinton in those tapes.
Judge Gives Permission To Turn Over Deposition
Lawyers for Clinton have agreed to turn over the president's deposition in the Paula Jones sexual harassment lawsuit to Starr, who now also has access to an affidavit Lewinsky gave in the case.
U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright, who is hearing the case in Little Rock, Ark., consented to the turnover of those documents.
Clinton's legal team has agreed to turn over the sealed deposition to Starr next week, Clinton attorney Bob Bennett told CNN. Sources say Clinton denied he had a sexual liaison with Lewinsky in his Jan. 17 deposition.
Panetta Goes Before Grand Jury
On Wednesday, former White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta spent over eight hours testifying before a grand jury hearing testimony in the Lewinsky matter.
Emerging from the Washington courthouse, Panetta, who was in charge of the White House staff while Lewinsky was an intern, said he spent the day giving detailed answers to questions about his knowledge of Clinton's relationship with Lewinsky.
"I am personally not aware of any improper relationship, sexual or otherwise, by this president with any of the White House interns or anyone else for that matter," Panetta said.
"I've spent the last several hours in an appearance before the grand jury largely detailing the operations of the White House and the physical setting of the White House during the time in which I was chief of staff. I believe I've answered all of the questions that were asked of me. And I will not comment any further on my testimony," Panetta said.
Panetta, who is now living in California, arrived at the courthouse without lawyers. He has said he did not see, nor was made aware of, any compromising encounters between the president and Lewinsky.
Over the weekend, Panetta angered the White House when he told the San Jose Mercury News: "If there's something there, and it leads to him having to step out (of) office, it may be time to do some repair work."
Wednesday Panetta said he had respect for Clinton and hoped he would be able to get back to business.
"My fervent prayer is that for the sake of the president, and the sake of this nation, that this matter is resolved soon so that he and all of us can continue to focus on the issues that affect our families, our nation, and our future," he said.
Panetta Subpoenaed For Jones Case
While in the Washington courthouse, Panetta was served with a subpoena to give a deposition in the Jones lawsuit against Clinton.
In her affidavit in the Jones case, sources say that Lewinsky, 24, denies having an intimate relationship with the president.
Seeking to hear the Tripp tapes for themselves, Clinton lawyers have subpoenaed Starr's office to obtain them.
White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry said Wednesday that the president has no plans to offer additional details of his relationship with Lewinsky.
"I think the president has said what he wants to say for now," said McCurry. "There are too many people willing to twist the facts."
Secret Service Meets With Starr's Staff
CNN has learned that Secret Service Director Lewis Merletti met with Starr's staff Tuesday to discuss possible subpoenas for the agents who guard the president, according to an official familiar with the deliberations.
Starr's investigators want to know anything the Secret Service knows about the president's relationship with Lewinsky. Starr also wants to know if agents have other information, including how often they may have witnessed the former intern visit the president or how long she was alone with him, if ever.
But Secret Service officials are worried that having agents testify before a grand jury about non-criminal activity they have witnessed could put a strain on the relationship between agents and those they are sworn to protect. This, they say, could jeopardize the safety of the commander-in-chief and, as a result, jeopardize national security.
Some senior law enforcement officials argue that agents' relationship with the president may be protected by executive privilege.
The talks were described as cordial and are expected to continue. The Secret Service and Starr's office declined to comment.
Bleiler: Lewinsky Had Tendency To 'Twist Facts'
Bleiler, 32, claims he had a five-year affair with Lewinsky, beginning in 1992, when she was a college student, and ending when his wife found out about it. He had been a drama instructor at Lewinsky's high school and says he met her the summer after she graduated.
According to Bleiler, Lewinsky told him she had a sexual relationship with a "high-ranking White House official."
Giles said Bleiler and his wife view Lewinsky as a "young lady obsessed with sex" who has a "tendency sometimes to twist facts in order to enhance her own self-importance."
William Ginsburg, Lewinsky's attorney, confirmed that she and Bleiler had an affair. He said Lewinsky was "a bit upset" over a news conference Bleiler and his wife held on Tuesday, during which they went public with their allegations and cast doubt on her truthfulness.
Ginsburg said Bleiler was a teacher at Lewinsky's high school and after graduation, she had a "sporadic" relationship with him "off and on over a two-to-three year period."
"This is a teacher having sex with a teen-ager," Ginsburg said.
McCurry: Rift Between Clinton, Morris Over Remark
Adding more fuel to the firestorm is an inflammatory public statement made Tuesday by former Clinton political advisor Dick Morris. McCurry reacted angrily to comments by Morris, who said he spoke to the president in recent days and was quoted in a radio interview discussing his views of the first family's sex lives.
"It is disgusting" that journalists would report on the remarks, said McCurry. He said Clinton was aware of the remarks and would likely never speak again to Morris.
AllPolitics' Kathleen Hayden and CNN's Wolf Blitzer, Bob Franken and Pierre Thomas contributed to this report.