Tapes: Lewinsky Interested In Presidential Travel
Replacement for some 'nerdy' sunglasses detailed in new Tripp tape details
By Wolf Blitzer/CNN
WASHINGTON (Feb. 19) -- As a grand jury continued its inquiry into the White House sex-and-perjury allegations, CNN has learned that ex-White House intern Monica Lewinsky was so interested in President Bill Clinton's schedule last year she told Linda Tripp she "stole" a document from Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon's desk about an overseas journey by the president.
Bacon was her boss at the time. "He'll never notice," Lewinsky is heard saying on the tapes.
Sources independent of the investigation who took notes while listening to the secretly-recorded tapes tell CNN Lewinsky stole what she described as the "talking points" for the trip to try to position herself to go along.
Lewinsky's lawyer immediately denounced the release of such information.
"The Linda Tripp tapes are just being selectively leaked. It is just unfair and just more of the same unfairness that we have been facing for some time," Bill Ginsburg said.
CNN also has learned of other previously unreported details of the taped conversations.
For example, Lewinsky says she purchased a pair of sunglasses for the president just before his visit to Latin America last year. She says on the tape his old ones were "nerdy."
She claims she sent the sunglasses to Betty Currie, the president's private secretary. A White House spokesman refused comment.
While working at the Pentagon, Lewinsky unsuccessfully attempted several times to get a job back at the White House because she wanted to be closer to Clinton.
"I want to get back there," she says during one conversation.
"It's not going to happen," Tripp, Lewinsky's onetime friend, is quoted as saying. "They don't want you back."
Meanwhile, top presidential aide Bruce Lindsey testified for a second day Thursday before the federal grand jury looking into the allegations against Clinton, as lawyers apparently worked to avoid a showdown over executive privilege.
Lindsey departed the courthouse in mid-afternoon without commenting to reporters on his testimony. A team of White House lawyers had accompanied Lindsey to the courthouse, apparently prepared for a confrontation over the privilege issue with prosecutors working with Independent Counsel Ken Starr.
The grand jury is looking into the reports that Clinton had a sexual relationship with Lewinsky and encouraged her to lie about it under oath. Clinton has emphatically denied both accusations.
The day began with a meeting between Lindsey, lawyers and the judge overseeing the grand jury. A source in the courtroom told CNN that Judge Norma Holloway Johnson told lawyers on both sides to "work things out," apparently in an effort to resolve any conflicts about Lindsey's testimony without a constitutional showdown.
Clinton himself would have to invoke executive privilege with
regard to confidential conversations he may have had with Lindsey, who serves as deputy White House counsel.
"It is my understanding the White House counsel is trying to
resolve the issue today. And while he is working on it, I don't
think I should comment about it," Clinton told reporters.
Earlier, the White House and Starr appeared to be at loggerheads over the grand jury testimony of top White House aides, setting the stage for a potential battle over whether the president could shield his aides by asserting executive privilege.
Ten White House lawyers accompanied Lindsey to the federal courthouse, including White House Counsel Charles F.C. Ruff and the president's personal lawyer, David Kendall. Shortly after 11 a.m. ET, Ruff left the courthouse without comment.
Sources tell CNN the issue arose Wednesday during the testimony of Lindsey, who declined to answer several questions raised by Starr deputy Jackie Bennett. Lindsey said the independent counsel needed to discuss that line of questioning with the White House Counsel's office.
The sources declined to be specific about the questions put to Lindsey, but the White House has made clear it believes confidential meetings with the president are privileged communications.
The issue also is relevant to the man next up on the grand jury's witness list: Deputy Chief of Staff John Podesta. Lindsey and Podesta are trusted Clinton aides with top roles in White House damage-control efforts. As such, they were believed to be involved in Lewinsky strategy sessions from the beginning of the controversy and are key figures in past White House responses to the Whitewater and Paula Jones investigations.
Executive privilege is the right of a president to withhold certain communications from other branches of government. White House aides have been trying to avoid the option for fear it would send a signal to the public the White House is trying to hide something from Starr. Starr has, at times, seemed open to a compromise, sources said, because a legal challenge into whether such privilege exists could tie him up in court for months and delay his investigation.
But sources say both sides have hardened their positions in recent days. One described Ruff as "absolutely determined" to defend his view that private sessions with the president can be shielded by privilege.
In a related development, Attorney General Janet Reno disclosed that by mutual agreement with her department, the White House has hired outside lawyers to represent the White House's view of executive privilege in the case.
"With the agreement of the Department of Justice, the White House has retained separate counsel to represent any governmental interests on behalf of the White House, including any questions of privilege," Reno said.
Meanwhile, sources tell CNN that Starr has developed a chronology showing presidential friend Vernon Jordan began seeking a private-sector job for Lewinsky within 72 hours of her being listed as a potential witness in the Paula Jones civil rights lawsuit against Clinton.
These sources, one in law enforcement and two attorneys familiar with the case, say some of the information compiled by Starr came from testimony and interviews with Clinton secretary Betty Currie.
Further information came from the failed immunity negotiations with Lewinsky and from interviews with secretaries and others in Jordan's Washington law office, as well as a review of telephone and courier records subpoenaed by the independent counsel.
The sources say Jordan met with Lewinsky four times and spoke with her on the telephone at least a half dozen times. Their interaction began on Dec. 8, when Currie contacted Jordan to ask if he could help find Lewinsky a job, the sources said. One source close to Jordan said he assumed Currie was calling at the president's behest.
Sources say they believe the first Jordan-Lewinsky face-to-face meeting was Dec. 11. They say courier records show Lewinsky sent Jordan a package from her Pentagon office that week; one source said it was a packet of resumes.
Jordan called Revlon's parent company within 24 hours of that first meeting in his effort to find a job for Lewinsky. Revlon ultimately withdrew a job offer on Jan. 21, the day the Lewinsky controversy first surfaced in the media.
Another meeting, the sources said, took place on Dec. 19, when Jordan helped arrange for Washington lawyer Frank Carter to represent Lewinsky. Carter took a sworn statement in which Lewinsky denied any sexual relationship with the president or any scheme to cover up such a relationship. The affidavit was ultimately filed in the Jones case.
The two also met again in the second week of January, so Lewinsky could thank Jordan for his help, one of the sources said.
This source said Jordan had yet to be interviewed and was informed
Wednesday that his grand jury testimony would not be this week as expected.
Lewinsky's attorney, Ginsburg, downplayed news of the Jordan-Lewinsky visits, while conceding there were visits and phone calls.
Asked if it was standard procedure for a White House intern, Ginsburg told CNN, "It is a standard proceedure for people who seek Mr. Jordan's help. Apparently he has helped a lot of people and there is a long list of people who he has assisted in getting new placement or new jobs or advancement. He is quite a nice man. And he has said that [about the meetings] himself. I don't think I am giving you any new news."
The attorney said Lewinsky is in "excellent spirits" and looking
forward to hearing her father's interview Friday on ABC News' "20/20."
CNN's Bob Franken and John King contributed to this report.