Firestorm Consumes White House
Lewinsky deposition in Jones case postponed 'indefinitely'
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Jan. 22) -- Despite Bill Clinton's continued denials, the furor over whether he had a sexual relationship with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky, and then encouraged her to lie about it, continues to build.
While Lewinsky, 24, stayed out of sight Thursday, her attorney successfully sought a delay in her deposition in the Paula Jones sexual harassment scheduled for Friday morning.
Following a conference call Thursday evening between lawyers for Clinton, Jones and Lewinsky and U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright, the proceeding was "indefinitely continued."
Lewinsky's lawyer, William Ginsburg, said he wanted to postpone the proceeding because his client planned to take the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination.
The former White House intern previously denied having an affair with Clinton in an affidavit filed in the Jones suit.
Earlier Thursday, Vernon Jordan, a high-powered Washington lawyer and longtime friend of Clinton, said Lewinsky told him she did not have a sexual relationship with Clinton.
Jordan also flatly denied suggesting that Lewinsky lie about her relationship with the president. "I want to say absolutely and unequivocally that Ms. Lewinsky told me in no uncertain terms that she did not have a sexual relationship with the president. At no time did I ever say, suggest or intimate to her that she should lie," Jordan said in a statement to reporters.
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Lewinsky's sworn affidavit
Jordan also said he has been subpoenaed by Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr to appear before the Whitewater grand jury. Betty Currie, a Clinton secretary said to be a friend of Lewinsky, and other White House staffers also have been served subpoenas, CNN was told.
Sources tell CNN that Starr wanted to "wire" Lewinsky to tape conversations between her and Clinton and the president's close friend, Vernon Jordan.
The Justice Department expanded Starr's probe last Friday to investigate if the president or his friends attempted to persuade Lewinsky to lie under oath.
Starr's plan, according to sources, was to record the conversation first with Jordan and then, based on what was recorded, determine whether to go ahead and tape a conversation with the president.
The plan was abandoned when it became apparent the investigation was going to become public.
As the probe continues, FBI agents assigned to Starr are speaking with other interns assigned to the White House when Lewinsky was there to see if she told any of them about her relationship with Clinton, sources said.
Starr is in possession of 17 tapes secretly recorded by Linda Tripp, Lewinsky's onetime friend and a former White House aide. The recordings of conversations between Tripp and Lewinsky reportedly have the former intern speaking of a sexual relationship with Clinton.
A source who has listened to tapes of those conversations told CNN that Lewinsky also told her friend the president said to her, "There is no evidence, so you can deny, deny, deny."
White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry declined to comment on that report today, saying, "The veracity of those statements is something that Mr. Starr will want to look into."
According to CNN's source, Lewinsky also told Tripp of a phone message she got on her home answering machine, saying, "Oh shucks. I wish you were there. I want to talk."
Tripp, currently employed at the Pentagon, has been working at home since this story broke Wednesday. Today, she told reporters staking out her Maryland home, "I'd appreciate it if you would not continue to disrupt the neighborhood. Nothing is going to come of this. I'm a witness in a federal investigation. I am not speaking to the media. Thanks."
At what was billed as a photo opportunity, Starr decided to take questions and was asked specifically if he was out to get the president. "Our job is to gather facts and to evaluate those facts and to get at the truth," said Starr. "The facts will come out and the truth will come out eventually, based on the presumption of innocence." (416K wav sound)
Asked if it was appropriate to "wire" Tripp, Starr said, "We use appropriate investigative techniques, which are traditional law enforcement techniques." (160K wav sound)
Starr also defended the expansion of his Whitewater investigation, saying, "We at all times satisfy ourself through very careful analysis that we are acting properly within our jurisdiction." He noted he had investigated the White House travel office and FBI files controversies, which do not directly relate to Whitewater. (480K wav sound)
Earlier in the day, the president again forcefully denied allegations that he had an affair with Lewinsky and then tried to get her to lie about it in an affidavit.
"The allegations are false, and I would never ask anybody to do anything other than tell the truth," Clinton said just before a meeting with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
"I would rather you had more rather than less, sooner rather than later," the president told reporters. He said the White House was working to cooperate with Starr and hoped to release more information soon.
Reporters who have listened to the Tripp-Lewinsky tapes say that in one of them, Lewinsky expresses a fear that Starr's lawyers will find out about gifts and letters she and the president exchanged. There is reported to be a mention of a dress and a photograph with an intimate inscription that the president gave to Lewinsky.
Sources said today that Clinton "believes" he gave several gifts to Lewinsky, now 24.
The sources said that the gifts were "innocent little trinkets, the kinds of things he gives to people who pass through the Oval Office" and were "no big deal," but do indicate that the president had some kind of relationship with Lewinsky.
Sources familiar with a deposition the president gave in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case last Saturday said Clinton acknowledged under oath that he likely gave the gifts to Lewinsky.
In the same deposition, the president admitted for the first time that he did have a sexual relationship with Gennifer Flowers, sources said. During the 1992 presidential campaign, Clinton said her story of a 12-year affair was not true, but also conceded he had caused pain in his marriage by his past behavior.
In several interviews Wednesday, Clinton denied having an affair with the Lewinsky, who was 21 at the time.
"That is not true," said Clinton during an interview on the PBS program
"NewsHour." "There is not a sexual relationship ... I did not urge anyone to say anything untrue."(192K wav sound)
Bennett, the president's attorney, said again today there was no improper relationship between the president and the intern.
"Yesterday [Wednesday], the president was adamant that there was no improper relationship of any kind with this woman and that he never asked anyone to lie," said Bennett. "He is pretty upset at those allegations. They are false and there is no truth to them."
Bennett said he was troubled by leaks from depositions in the Paula Jones case. "Every morning I read in the paper of leaks, grossly distorted leaks, I must say, from the deposition, which are under seal," said Bennett. He said he intended to raise the issue of leaks with federal district Judge Susan Webber Wright.
In a sworn affidavit, Lewinsky has denied having sex with the president or agreeing to lie about an affair.
One source told CNN that Lewinsky was "mesmerized" by the president and would often hang out in the West Wing area so that "she would bump into him and other important people."
The source went on to say: "They clearly knew each other and there was some form of a relationship, but you shouldn't rule out an innocent relationship that she then blew up or exaggerated."
In a related development, sources tell CNN that the Jones' legal team has issued a subpoena seeking sworn testimony from Shelia Lawrence about her relationship with Clinton.
Mrs. Lawrence says she and the president are friends but that any allegations of a sexual relationship are outrageous. One source said
it was expected that Mrs. Lawrence would fight the subpoena on grounds she had no sexual relationship with Mr. Clinton and no relevant information to offer the Jones' team.
Mrs. Lawrence is the widow of Larry Lawrence, the former ambassador to Switzerland and a major Democratic donor. The Lawerences owned the Hotel Del Coronado, Clinton's favorite when he is in the San Diego area.
All custodial records, logs, employment records and documents relating to Lewinsky have now been subpoenaed by Paula Jones' attorneys, sources at the White House and close to the Paula Jones legal team tell CNN.
Late Wednesday afternoon, Starr issued a wide-ranging subpoena for the same documents. There are no details as to time limits on either subpoena.
White House spokesman Mike McCurry said aides are methodically sifting through the information, but the process would take some time.
"There's not a room in the White House that's called 'the Truth Room' where you can go unlock the door and it's all sitting there," McCurry said. "Everybody is working hard to answer these questions."
Specifically, Starr has asked for White House logs that would show how often Lewinsky visited the West Wing of the White House. He has also asked for telephone records to show if Lewinsky called the president or if he called her. In addition, he also asked for courier records which might reveal packages sent between the president and Lewinsky.
Two sources tell CNN that Lewinsky was a frequent visitor to the West Wing of the White House, often late in the evening, usually signing in as saying she was visiting Clinton's secretary, Betty Currie.
One of these sources said Lewinsky was almost always alone, and often at the White House past midnight.
First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton told reporters on a trip back from Baltimore Wednesday that she does not believe the allegations and believes they are part of a "concerted effort to undermine his legitimacy." (384K wav sound)
At her weekly briefing, Attorney General Janet Reno repeatedly refused to comment on any aspect of Starr's expanding investigation or allegations about Clinton and Lewinsky.
Reno refused to be drawn into a discussion of whether the independent counsel statute offers any guidance when a prosecutor wishes to expand an inquiry, or whether it's proper for a prosecutor to begin surveillance in a new area before being granted permission to expand an inquiry. (192K wav sound)
"I would refer you to the language of the law," Reno told frustrated reporters. "It depends on the circumstances."