Lewinsky's First Lawyer Challenges Starr Subpoena
Another complaint against Starr is filed; Lindsey, Currie recall delayed
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, March 4) -- Monica Lewinsky's former attorney is fighting an effort by Independent Counsel Ken Starr to force him to testify before the grand jury investigating sex-and-perjury allegations against President Bill Clinton. The chief judge presiding over the grand jury held a closed-door hearing Wednesday on the matter but did not immediately issue a ruling.
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Asserting attorney-client privilege, lawyer Frank Carter challenged Starr's subpoena that would force him to answer grand jury questions and turn over notes he took of conversations with Lewinsky while helping her prepare her affidavit in the Paula Jones case. In that affidavit, Lewinsky denied any sexual relationship with the president. (352K wav sound)
Leaving the federal courthouse in the early afternoon, Carter's attorney, Charles Ogletree, told reporters he could not comment on the hearing's specifics. But he defended the importance of a confidential attorney-client relationship and said they would fight to maintain that privilege for Lewinsky. "Frank Carter has done nothing wrong, and the only thing that he can do is to protect and defend a client who hired him to represent him vigorously within the bounds of the law," Ogletree said.
"We are confident that after careful consideration of these issues that this court, and any other court, would say that there is no basis for the extraordinary breach of the attorney-client privilege by allowing the government to call Mr. Carter to produce documents or to be a witness against his client," said Ogletree. (448K wav sound)
Carter, who was referred to Lewinsky by lawyer-lobbyist Vernon Jordan, no longer represents the former White House intern. But Lewinsky has "in no way has asked us to waive her privilege, and she continues to assert her privileges as long as we have the authority to do so," Ogletree said. "And until we are required by the court to do something else we intend to vigorously challenge this at every single level." (320K wav sound)
Carter himself did not make any statement following the court proceeding.
Starr's prosecutors argue that because this is a criminal case, attorney-client privilege should be superceded by their investigative needs to get to the bottom of the Lewinsky matter.
The Washington grand jury was not in session Wednesday. It resumes Thursday for a second day of testimony from Jordan, a longtime friend of Clinton and a central figure in the Lewinsky controversy.
Jordan completed the first day of his long-awaited testimony Tuesday, saying afterwards he answered all of the panel's questions truthfully and completely, to the best of my ability." His extended questioning has pushed back Starr's recall of White House secretary Betty Currie and presidential confidant Bruce Lindsey until next week.
Another complaint filed against Starr
Meanwhile, the Justice Department announced Wednesday it will review a new formal complaint against the independent counsel filed by a South Carolina lawyer alleging that Starr concealed false testimony while representing General Motors in a civil case.
Attorney Kendall Few said Starr helped conceal alleged perjury by a General Motors engineer while defending the company in a product liability suit dealing with fuel tank fires.
Few filed the complaint with U.S. Attorney Rene Josey in Columbia, S.C., and Justice Department officials in Washington expect to get it in the next day or so, department sources tell CNN. The complaint will be reviewed along with those filed by Sen. Bob Torricelli (D-N.J.), Monica Lewinsky's attorneys and Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), officials say.
Justice sources say Attorney General Janet Reno is waiting to see how Judge Norma Holloway Johnson responds to a separate complaint filed by David Kendall, Clinton's personal attorney, decrying leaks to the news media concerning Starr's investigation.
Reno wants to know what, if any, action the judge calls for before she responds to the growing number of allegations against Starr.
Privately, White House officials are criticizing Starr's efforts to force Carter's testimony, noting Starr's own aggressive use of attorney-client privilege in this contested case.
Said one senior administration official: "Today's question is this: Will the real Ken Starr please stand up? Is it the Ken Starr who forcefully defends the concept or attorney-client privilege or the one who is in court today trying to trample on that right when someone else tries to assert it?"
Lindsey, Currie testimony delayed
Starr's office told President Clinton's personal secretry Betty Currie and presidential adviser Bruce Lindsey they will not be recalled this week before the Washington grand jury, CNN has learned. Though originally scheduled to appear again Thursday, both were informed they need not be on standby to follow Jordan.
During his previous two days of testimony, Lindsey declined to answer questions about his conversations with the president about former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. White House aides John Podesta and Sidney Blumenthal also have declined to answer such questions.
The federal judge overseeing the grand jury has asked the two sides to work out an agreement for questioning senior White House aides about their meetings and conversations with the president concerning Lewinsky.
Sources say negotiations aimed at a compromise are stalled, and White House lawyers are expecting a showdown when Lindsey is recalled to testify. 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."
No claim of executive privilege so far
By rejecting several media motions as "moot," the
federal judge overseeing the Lewinsky grand jury has implicitly confirmed that Clinton has so far not tried to invoke executive privilege.
Several news organizations had filed motions requesting that
Judge Johnson open up any court hearings concerning executive
Judge Johnson has rejected those motions as "moot" because there are no such proceedings scheduled, several sources said.
Involved parties are banned from commenting on the case, making
confirmation of any executive privilege claims by the president difficult for reporters to confirm.
CNN's John King and Bob Franken contributed to this report.