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Vernon Jordan A Quintessential 'FOB'

Starr's expanding inquiry ensnares Clinton's close friend, golfing buddy

By Pierre Thomas/CNN

jordan

WASHINGTON (Jan. 22) -- Vernon Jordan is a lawyer, a heavyweight Democrat, a Washington power broker and a presidential golfing buddy. He holds extraordinary access to the leader of the free world.

In short, Vernon is a quintessential Friend of Bill. Now that close friendship has ensnared Jordan in what may turn out to be an incredibly damaging criminal investigation.

Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr is investigating whether Jordan and Clinton coerced a former White House aide to lie about an alleged sexual affair with the president.

While details surrounding the president's alleged relationship with Monica Lewinsky remain murky, Lewinsky's lawyer has made clear his client knew Jordan.

"Vernon Jordan is an individual who I understand helped Monica get an interview with a public relations firm in New York where she was eventually going to -- and may still -- park herself as an entry-level intern or apprentice, or whatever they call it in that trade," said William Ginsburg of Los Angeles.

In addition, the Revlon cosmetic company has disclosed that Jordan, a member of the firm's board, referred Lewinsky for a public affairs job at a Revlon affiliate.

She was interviewed over the past two months and offered a job, but the offer was rescinded Wednesday as the furor over the allegations erupted.

A key question is why Jordan intervened to help Lewinsky. Jordan's attorney declined to comment on Wednesday.

In many ways, the Vernon Jordan story has been one steeped in the American dream. He grew up in the housing projects of Atlanta. His mother cooked meals for the city's elite.

But Jordan went on to get a law degree from Howard University and to work in the civil rights movement, rising to become head of the National Urban League.

It was through the Urban League and trips to Little Rock, Ark., Jordan met Clinton.

The bond endured even as Jordan transformed his portfolio from civil rights leader to high-powered business man.

Jordan has worked in the board rooms for a wide range of top U.S. companies in addition to Revlon, including American Express, Sarah Lee, Union Carbide, Xerox, JCPenney and Dow Jones and Co.

Given Jordan's corporate background and ties in Washington, he probably seemed like the perfect choice to head up the Clinton-Gore transition team in 1992. But there were conflict of interest questions.

"I am on leave from a law firm, I'm on leave from the boards of directors, I'm not getting paid," Jordan complained at the time. "I don't know what else I'm supposed to do."

It was apparently a job well done, and the Jordan-Clinton friendship continued to flourish.

When Clinton needed a friend to go with him to visit the family of White House lawyer Vincent Foster after Foster's suicide, he chose Jordan. When the president needed someone to feel out Colin Powell about becoming secretary of state, he tapped Jordan to pose the question.

And there are allegations Jordan was part of an orchestrated plan to keep Clinton friend Webster Hubbell from cooperating with Whitewater investigators.

This was after Hubbell left his top Justice Department position in 1994 amid allegations of embezzling from his former law firm.

Jordan and Clinton have shared many times together, mostly good. Now they share the distinction of being targets of Starr's expanded investigation.

In Other News

Thursday Jan. 22, 1998

Firestorm Consumes White House
Sonny Bono's Widow To Seek His Congressional Seat
Gore Seeks Consensus In Abortion Debate
Justice, Microsoft Settle Contempt Dispute
Tripp: No Stranger To Controversy
Editor: Lewinsky Tapes Don't Confirm Affair
Strategist Urges GOP To Stay Away From Latest Clinton Scandal
Lewinsky's Leap From 'Nobody' To News Headlines
Vernon Jordan A Quintessential 'FOB'
White House Scandal At A Glance
Sources: Clinton Admits Sexual Affair With Flowers

Analysis:
Clinton Faces His Most Serious Crisis

Transcripts:
Kenneth Starr's Comments





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