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Lewinsky's Lawyer: 'We Are Dying To Tell The Story'

Clinton and Lewinsky
President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky hug at the White House in 1996  

Immunity negotiations continue; president's friends talk of resignation

WASHINGTON (Jan. 25) -- Negotiations for an immunity deal for former White House intern Monica Lewinsky could resume Sunday, her attorney said.

"We are delighted, we are dying to tell the story," Lewinsky's attorney William Ginsburg said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Lewinsky's testimony that she had an affair with President Bill Clinton and he asked her to lie about it could help Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth Starr bring down the presidency.

"As the saying goes, the ball is still in the air. We're having cordial discussions. We've been together by telephone. and I'm very hopeful we'll continue those today," Ginsburg said.

Several of Clinton's closest friends in and out of government have told CNN they believe he almost certainly did have a sexual relationship with Lewinsky and have begun to talk among themselves about the possibility of a resignation.

Still, they say the president and the first lady are determined to fight the allegations and, according to CNN sources, no one has recommended that Clinton resign.

Since Friday, CNN has talked with more than a dozen close Clinton associates who have concluded that the president probably did engage in sex with Lewinsky. At the same time, they say they do not believe he conspired with his friend, Washington lawyer Vernon Jordan, to encourage her to lie about it under oath.

Those associates consider the Clinton presidency to be in deep peril.

"Things are moving so quickly, it's almost getting out of control," said one associate of the president.

However, senior White House officials Saturday denied there is any talk of resignation and say they believe the president.

In a dramatic move, the president reached out to some of his closest former advisers for urgent help.

Among them is former Commerce Secretary Mickey Kantor, who has agreed to become a lead counsel in the president's defense, and former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Harold Ickes.

Returning to the White House the day after his 1996 re-election, Clinton hugs Lewinsky
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White House officials are nervously watching the negotiations between Lewinsky's attorneys and Starr.

If Lewinsky is granted immunity and agrees to testify about a relationship with the president, these aides tell CNN, his presidency could collapse.

"If he had sex with a 21-year-old intern -- any kind of sex -- he has to resign," said one longtime Clinton insider.

Former White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta is already speculating about a possible Clinton resignation.

"If these are baseless charges, it'll be OK. On the other hand, if there's something there, and it leads to him having to step out of office, it may be time to do some repair work and that may not have the consequences you would expect," Panetta said.

If the charges are true, Panetta said, it would be better for the Democratic Party "if Gore became president and you had a new message and new individual up there."

Also surfacing are more lurid details of Clinton's alleged sex life. Sources tell CNN Lewinsky is heard in one of the secretly recorded conversations saying that the president used to engage in late night "phone sex."

Hillary Clinton takes lead in damage-control effort

White House sources also described first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton as taking the lead role in orchestrating damage-control plans, beginning with a successful effort earlier this week to push the president's personal attorney Robert Bennett aside in favor of her choice, lawyer David Kendall.

Mrs. Clinton complained to key associates that her husband's allies were not speaking out in his defense, and pushed White House political director Craig Smith to organize a better surrogate operation.

Telephone negotiations between Starr's office and attorneys for Lewinsky ended for the day without an agreement, according to sources involved in the talks.

Progress was made toward a deal, a source said. "The ball is still in the air," he said.

Lewinsky's lawyer William Ginsburg earlier denied reports his client offered to admit a sexual relationship with the president in exchange for immunity from prosecution, but not admit that she had been asked to lie about it by the president and his close friend Jordan.

"Everything is on the table ... If I were the president, I'd worry," Ginsburg said.

Lewinsky is scheduled to go before a grand jury Tuesday along with Jordan and several other figures in the investigation.

CNN has confirmed that federal investigators made an immunity offer, apparently last week, but the talks collapsed over the specifics.

Video footage of Clinton returning to Washington the day after his 1996 re-election shows Lewinsky greeting him on the White House lawn. A smiling Lewinsky is seen standing on the front of the "rope line" with other White House employees on Nov. 6, 1996. Clinton appears to talk briefly with Lewinsky as he reaches across her to shake the hands of other supporters.

Saturday's headlines:

  • Lewinsky told friend Linda Tripp in taped conversations that a dress given to her as a gift by Clinton contains a semen stain from the president, The New York Times and other news organizations reported, quoting people who had heard the recordings. Such evidence would interest prosecutors because it could provide a DNA link.

  • TIME magazine reports that Lewinsky and Clinton engaged in frequent phone sex, with Clinton often calling at night from the White House. A source told the magazine that Lewinsky brought phone messages from the president left on her home answering machine to her job at the Pentagon, where she played them for co-worker Tripp.

    TIME also reports that Clinton and Lewinsky engaged in oral sex about 12 to 20 times in a study off the Oval Office.

  • The Los Angeles Times, quoting an unidentified source who claims to have listened to about 10 percent of the 20 hours of tape-recorded conversations handed over to the independent counsel's office, said Lewinsky can be heard on the tapes saying she only participated in oral sex with the president, and that Clinton told her he did not consider such an act to be a sexual affair. Two Arkansas state troopers told the Times in 1993 that Clinton had said biblical scriptures held that oral sex with a woman other than your wife is not adultery.

    "Monica said they had phone sex. That there was a lot of phone sex," the source also told the Times.

    Lucianne
    Goldberg  

  • Lucianne Goldberg, a New York literary agent known to dislike the president deeply, encouraged Tripp to record her conversations with Lewinsky and then brought the story to the attention of Newsweek magazine, The Washington Post reported. "What I'm glad about is he's getting caught at something. If it took this to get him, fine," the Post quoted Goldberg as saying.

    She added: "I'm a hero if this thing comes out the way my, quote, agenda would like to see it come out." She told the Post she has been furious over coverage of Clinton for the last five years because she believes journalists did not do enough about Whitewater and other allegations of corruption.

    Goldberg said she suggested Tripp to tape-record the conversations so Tripp wouldn't be called a crackpot if she went forward with her allegations. But she said Tripp was reluctant and feels bad about secretly taping her friend.

    "She's a lady and ... ladies don't tape their friends' conversations," Goldberg told reporters Saturday outside her Manhattan apartment. "She feels terrible; she is heartsick."

    Goldberg said from the two tapes she heard, she believes Clinton and Lewinsky "had a -- find a euphemism -- a romantic relationship."

    Goldberg said she doesn't have time to write a book about the controversy, but predicted there will be 50 books done. "Have you ever heard anything as wild as this?" Goldberg said. "I wouldn't have believed it."

    Asked if she hoped to make money from the story, she said, "This is not about money. This is about no controlling moral authority."

    Clinton has repeatedly denied he had a sexual relationship with Lewinsky or encouraged her to lie about it. On Friday, he met with his Cabinet and maintained the allegations were false. Afterward, his appointees voiced their support.

    "I believe the allegations are completely untrue," Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said.

    In another new development, FBI agents assigned to Starr served subpoenas on Pentagon workers, requesting all e-mail and other correspondence to or from Lewinsky and co-worker Linda Tripp. Sources said the agents also seized the hard drives from the computers used by Tripp and Lewinsky.

    CNN's John King contributed to this report.
  • In Other News

    Saturday Jan. 24, 1998

    Clinton Supporters Say Lewinsky May Have Fantasized A Relationship
    Panetta Says Clinton Should 'Go To The People'
    White House Scandal At A Glance
    Flowers: Not Surprised By Clinton Cover-Up Allegations

    Friday Jan. 23, 1998

    Polls:
    Clinton's Standing With Public Starts To Slide

    Stories:
    New Details Emerge About Sex Allegations Against Clinton
    Richardson, U.N. Mission Subpoenaed On Lewinsky Job Offer
    White House Scandal At A Glance
    Tension Builds Between Clinton's Personal Attorneys
    Gore: Clinton Innocent Of Affair Accusations
    Text Of Lewinsky's Affidavit
    Lewinsky's Attorney Lashes Out At Starr
    Lott Hopes Sex Scandal Won't Distract Congress
    Similarity To Clinton Intern Brings Unwelcome Fame
    Clinton Aide Outlines State Of The Union Themes
    Clinton To Propose Private Pension Changes
    U.S. Senate Leader Says IMF Must Address Problems
    German Man Convicted Of Threatening Clinton

    Transcripts:
    Donovan Campbell Comments


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