Keeping Score In the Lewinsky Matter
What do we know, and how do we know it, in the Monica Lewinsky matter?
"Gossip, innuendo and hearsay are being passed off as fact. Allegations by unnamed sources are claimed to be credible."
-- Bob Bennett, Bill Clinton's personal attorney
The story of the alleged affair between President Bill Clinton and
former White House intern Monica Lewinsky exploded in January with a torrent of information -- facts, unproven statements and outrageous rumors.
The torrent has continued all summer. Within hours of Lewinsky's Aug. 6 testimony before the grand jury, in fact, there were news leaks about what she reportedly said in that secret session.
Here's a guide to help you discern fact from fiction in this sex, perjury and obstruction of justice inquiry, as well as what falls somewhere in between, and judge for yourself the credibility of some of the information that has surfaced.
In evaluating the veracity of reports and allegations, journalists consider the sources: how they got the information, whether they have a motive for passing it on and whether they have been reliable in the past. And that's what we've attempted to do here.
What we know
After starting at the White House in June 1995 as an unpaid intern, Lewinsky
moved to a paid White House position handling mail, then went to the Pentagon in
April 1996. She left her job with the Pentagon in December 1997.
Linda Tripp, a former White House staffer, taped more than 20 hours of
conversations with Lewinsky, who claimed on tape to have had an affair
with the president and suggested that the president and Vernon Jordan, his friend and advisor, encouraged her to lie about it.
The team led by Whitewater Independent Counsel Ken Starr wired Tripp,
questioned Lewinsky about her statements on the tape, and attempted to get her to cooperate with their investigation.
Starr asked Attorney General Janet Reno to ask a three-judge panel from the federal Court of Appeals to permit him to expand the scope of the investigation to examine allegations of perjury, subornation of perjury and obstruction of justice. Reno agreed, and the panel agreed.
Word of the taped allegations and investigation broke in newspapers on Jan. 21. Clinton denied the allegations. Jordan acknowledged he helped Lewinsky find a job and a lawyer but denied he told her to lie when she was questioned by Paula Jones' attorneys.
The Washington, D.C., Whitewater grand jury convened to evaluate the most recent allegations.
Attorneys for Lewinsky gave investigators an oral summary of what she would be willing to testify about in exchange for immunity from prosecution.
Before moving to Washington, Lewinsky had an affair with Andy Bleiler, a former high school drama teacher. Bleiler agreed to turn over to prosecutors souvenirs, photographs and documents Lewinsky sent to him and his wife while Lewinsky was a White House intern.
Revlon cosmetics offered Lewinsky a public relations job at the recommendation
of Vernon Jordan but later withdrew the offer.
U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson's office received a subpoena from Starr
asking for records relating to Lewinsky.
In a sworn affidavit in the Paula Jones suit, Lewinsky denied she had a sexual relationship with the president.
During a deposition in the Paula Jones suit, Clinton denied ever having
sexual relations with Lewinsky.
Lewinsky received full immunity from prosecution in exchange for her testimony.
What we believe to be true, as confirmed by reliable sources
As part of her immunity agreement, Monica Lewinsky turned over to investigators a blue dress she believes contains possible physical evidence of a sexual relationship with Clinton. The FBI has conducted tests on the dress.
Lewinsky met privately with the president at the White House in December after receiving a subpoena in the Paula Jones lawsuit.
Officials pushed to have Lewinsky transferred from the White House because of an infatuation with the president.
FBI agents assigned to Starr served subpoenas on Pentagon workers, requesting all e-mail and other correspondence to or from Lewinsky and/or co-worker Linda Tripp. Agents also seized hard drives from computers used by Tripp and Lewinsky.
President Clinton's personal secretary, Betty Currie, authorized access to the
White House for Lewinsky.
U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson offered Lewinsky a job based on a White
House recommendation. She turned it down.
Unconfirmed or in dispute, with sources of the information noted
Lewinsky told the grand jury she had more than a dozen sexual encounters with the president over an 18-month period beginning in late 1995.
Source: Unnamed sources
Clinton has discussed with his inner circle a strategy of acknowledging he had "intimate sexual encounters" with Lewinsky.
Source: Unnamed senior advisers, quoted in The New York Times
Lewinsky said she had oral sex with the president in the White House
and "telephone" sex late at night.
Source: Tripp-Lewinsky tapes, reviewed by Newsweek
While he was Arkansas governor, Clinton told his security people that oral sex was not adultery.
Source: The American Spectator, interviewing a former Arkansas state trooper
Charges of a sexual affair and cover-up by the president are part of a "vast right-wing conspiracy" and the result of anti-Arkansas prejudice.
Source: Hillary Clinton in television and newspaper interviews
Clinton frequently called Lewinsky and sent her flowers.
Source: Fellow White House interns, citing claims by Lewinsky
Lewinsky was known in the White House West Wing as "the stalker" for the way she shadowed Clinton as he went about his daily business.
Source: A White House official who did not work for the administration at the time Lewinsky served as an intern
Clinton, according to Lewinsky, asked her to lie about an alleged affair if questioned by attorneys in the Jones case.
Source: Tripp-Lewinsky tapes, reviewed by Newsweek
According to Lewinsky, Vernon Jordan tried to convince her to lie about any sexual relationship that she had with the president.
Source: Tripp-Lewinsky tapes, reviewed by Newsweek. No specific reference made to Jordan, although those who have heard the tapes believe she is referring to him. Jordan denies the charge.
Starr planned to "wire" Lewinsky
in an attempt to tape conversations with Vernon Jordan and the
Source: unidentified sources. Starr has disputed the claim.
Lewinsky is a "sex-obsessed" young woman who has a tendency for "twisting facts" to enhance her self-importance.
Source: Terry Giles, lawyer for Andy and Kathy Bleiler. Andy Bleiler had a five-year affair with Lewinsky.
During a State of the Union address, Clinton wore a tie Lewinsky gave him.
Source: Lewinsky in casual conversation to reporters. Claim was disputed by
Clinton contributor Walter Kaye, who said he gave Clinton the tie. Kaye helped Lewinsky land the White House internship.
According to Lewinsky, Clinton urged her to be evasive about their relationship when he met with her on Dec. 28 at the White House.
Source: The New York Times, citing unidentified sources.
Linda Tripp claimed she overheard Monica Lewinsky talking on the phone with Clinton. The claim was contradicted by Lewinsky's attorney.
Source: Uncorroborated statement released by Linda Tripp to reporters
Reporting that didn't hold up
A Secret Service agent saw Clinton and Lewinsky in a "compromising" encounter in the White House.
Source: The Dallas Morning News, citing a long-time Washington lawyer familiar with the case, though not a member of Starr's staff. Story later retracted by the newspaper.