Clinton Supporters Say Lewinsky May Have Fantasized A Relationship
By John King/CNN
WASHINGTON (Jan. 24) -- It's a tangled tale with enormous stakes: Bill Clinton's hold on the presidency threatened by allegations of a sexual relationship with a 21-year-old White House intern.
Allegations is the key word. Nothing has been proven here. Even the former intern, Monica Lewinsky, has given conflicting accounts.
But as the White House and Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr try to sort it out, CNN has obtained information from a variety of sources, some but not all of them Clinton supporters, that suggests Lewinsky zealously sought access to the president and once wrote a letter saying she was deeply despondent that he was not returning her affection.
This material supports a case Clinton loyalists are making privately, that the young woman fantasized a relationship with the president.
A well-placed source who helped coordinate a Washington fund-raiser tells CNN that Lewinsky once persuaded a White House advance aide to get her into the event, and she arrived three hours early to position herself along a rope line so she could greet the president.
Said this source: "They shook hands but I saw no special recognition."
And at last July's NATO summit, Lewinsky was in Madrid with her boss, Defense Secretary William Cohen, but sources present say she was so adamant about gaining access to areas where Clinton was that the Secret Service was put on alert.
Said a source familiar with the episode, "She was obsessed with him. Period."
When FBI agents searched Lewinsky's apartment, they found trinkets from a Martha's Vineyard, Mass., gift shop that she says were gifts from the president.
But a reporter watched Clinton shop that day and he got only a handful of T-shirts. The store, however, gave a Clinton aide boxes of shirts, mugs and other souvenirs and sources say they were distributed to White House aides and volunteers in part by Betty Currie, the White House secretary who befriended Lewinsky during her internship.
Sources tell CNN that Clinton acknowledges calling Lewinsky on several occasions. She once told a friend they engaged in graphic phone sex.
Sources close to Clinton say there was another reason: Clinton was told she was deeply despondent and decided to intervene, first calling her directly and then asking his close friend Vernon Jordan to help her.
But there are some things White House aides are having trouble explaining away.
When Lewinsky was exiled from the White House to the Pentagon, for example, several senior West Wing workers -- including then-Deputy Chief of Staff Evelyn Lieberman -- voiced fears to colleagues that she and the president had some kind of sexual relationship.
Sources tell CNN items seized from Lewinsky's apartment, including clothing, are being analyzed by the FBI to see if they can be linked to the president.
Lewinsky's personal computer and the hard drive from her Pentagon office computer are also in the FBI's possession, as independent counsel Starr looks for correspondence with the president.
White House aides insist all this can and will be explained, but worry that if they are too critical, Lewinsky will turn on the president and cooperate with the independent counsel.