Vernon Jordan Under Grand Jury Microscope
By John King/CNN
WASHINGTON (March 3) -- Vernon Jordan, a longtime friend of President Bill Clinton and a central figure in the Monica Lewinsky controversy, completed the first day of his long-awaited testimony before the grand jury investigating the sex-and-perjury allegations surrounding the president. Jordan will return for further questioning Thursday.
Leaving the federal courthouse Tuesday afternoon following a full day of questioning, Jordan told reporters, "In response to a subpoena from the independent counsel, I testified before the grand jury today. I answered all their questions truthfully and completely, to the best of my ability."
Jordan helped Lewinsky secure a job after she left her Pentagon post, and recommended an attorney who briefly represented her. Independent Counsel Ken Starr wants to know why the power lobbyist took a personal interest in finding Lewinsky a job, and what the president knew about Jordan's efforts.
Also in this story:
Starr schedules Lindsey, Currie to testify again
The former White House intern is alleged to have said in telephone conversations, surreptitiously taped by Lewinsky's onetime friend Linda Tripp, that Jordan tried to get her to say things that were not true under oath. In legal terms, that would be suborning perjury.
The grand jury is looking into reports that Clinton had a sexual relationship with Lewinsky, and encouraged her to lie about it under oath. Clinton has denied both accusations.
An associate familiar with Jordan's version of events said he would testify he was unaware when he began helping Lewinsky line up a private sector job that she was a potential witness in the Paula Jones civil rights case.
He was also expected to say he was assured by both Clinton and Lewinsky that there was no sexual relationship, and that he referred Lewinsky to Washington attorney Frank Carter after she told him she had been subpoenaed in the Jones case, but that he never told her to lie.
In the face of rumors that Jordan is distancing himself from the president, he reaffirmed his friendship with Clinton. "As to those of you who cast doubt on my friendship with President Clinton, let me assure you ours is an enduring friendship -- an enduring friendship based on mutual respect, trust and admiration. That was true yesterday. That is true today. And it will be true tomorrow," Jordan said. (448K wav sound)
The White House has maintained that it was not nervous about Jordan's testimony. White House press secretary Mike McCurry told reporters he was confident Jordan would tell the truth and that his testimony would in no way be damaging to the president.
"He is a truthful and honest man, that is a personal opinion that reflects the corporate view" of the White House. When asked if Jordan's testimony would help Clinton, McCurry answered, "Absolutely."
Meanwhile, sources tell CNN that presidential confidant Bruce Lindsey and White House secretary Betty Currie are being recalled to testify once again before the grand jury.
Starr's office told both to be prepared to testify Thursday, said two sources familiar with the investigation. But that testimony will most likely be pushed to next week, as the grand jury is scheduled to question Jordan again Thursday.
In Lindsey's case, the battle over executive privilege could come to a head when he returns for a third day of testimony. He has previously declined to answer several questions on grounds his private conversations with the president are protected by executive privilege. Lindsey is a 30-year friend of the president and his closest confidante.
The federal judge overseeing the grand jury has asked the White House and Starr to try to work out an agreement for questioning senior White House aides about their meetings and conversations with the president concerning Lewinsky.
But sources report no substantive progress in those talks, and it is clear the White House feels the pressure is on Starr because an extended fight over executive privilege could stall the investigation for months or longer.
Said one source familiar with the White House legal strategy: "You would think it is in his interest to find a way to deal, even some Republicans are now saying this investigation can't go on too long."
Currie sits just outside the Oval Office and is among those who control access to the president. She befriended Lewinsky during her White House internship and cleared her into the White House for many of Lewinsky's 37 visits after she left the White House for a Pentagon job.
Sources say Currie received a packet from Lewinsky containing several gifts Lewinsky said were from the president. Currie turned them over to Starr after she was subpoenaed. According to the sources, Currie testified that Lewinsky sent them to her via courier and to the best of her knowledge was acting on her own when she sent them.
Since Currie testified at the outset of the grand jury investigation, several other witnesses have been called to testify about their knowledge of Lewinsky and her relationship with the president, including Currie's boss, director of Oval Office Operations Nancy Hernreich.