Tension Builds Between Clinton's Personal Lawyers
By John King and Eileen O'Connor/CNN
WASHINGTON (Jan. 23) - The behind-the-scenes debate in the Clinton White House over how to deal with the Monica Lewinsky controversy includes tension between the president's two personal lawyers, David Kendall and Robert Bennett.
Bennett issued the president's initial denial to allegations he had a sexual affair with former White House intern Lewinsky and asked her to deny it if questioned by Paula Jones' lawyers. But once the investigation fell under the scope of Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth Starr, Kendall took the lead because he represents the president in Whitewater matters.
Bennett was described by White House sources as upset he was pushed aside, and angry again when it was decided he would no longer be invited to White House strategy sessions. If more of Bennett's work is taken over by Kendall, it will be done quietly, sources say.
There is no love lost between Bennett and Kendall; sources say Kendall long has believed there should be an out-of-court settlement in the Paula Jones case and is critical of harsh statements Bennett has made about witnesses who have come forward to criticize the president or raise questions about his conduct.
But one White House source familiar with the tension said Kendall's frustration was at least partially misplaced. Said this source: "You can't blame the lawyer that there hasn't been a settlement. It is the client who has not allowed a settlement." The client, of course, is the president.