Lewinsky Lawyers, Starr Argue Over Immunity Agreement
Vernon Jordan finishes a second day of grand jury testimony
By Wolf Blitzer/CNN
WASHINGTON (March 5) -- Lawyers for ex-White House intern Monica Lewinsky and Independent Counsel Ken Starr spent the day arguing over whether the former intern already has a legally binding immunity agreement.
Also at the federal courthouse in Washington, lawyer-lobbyist Vernon Jordan spent a second day testifying before the grand jury investigating the sex-and-perjury allegations against President Bill Clinton.
Lewinsky's lawyers, Bill Ginsburg and Nathaniel Speights, insist they worked out an immunity agreement for Lewinsky with Starr's prosecutors last month. Starr's office denies any such deal exists.
Also in this story:
Second day of testimony for Jordan
Clinton testified he gave gifts to Lewinsky
Panel considers Starr ethics complaint
Ginsburg, Speights and Starr arrived at the courthouse early Thursday morning and appeared before presiding Judge Norma Holloway Johnson to argue their cases. Their meeting did not break up until after 5 p.m. ET, and neither side made comments as they left the courthouse.
Later, in a brief telephone interview with CNN, Ginsburg would say only that the judge "conducted a fair and full hearing in the great tradition of the federal district court of this district."
It was unclear when Johnson might rule on the matter.
There also is no indication when Starr will call Lewinsky to appear before his federal grand jury in Washington. At least two earlier scheduled appearances were postponed.
The grand jury is looking into reports Clinton had a sexual relationship with Lewinsky and encouraged her to lie about it under oath. Clinton has denied both accusations.
What Lewinsky will say under oath could be critical to Starr's investigation. That is because of what sources close to the investigation confirm is a major difference between what she is prepared to say if granted immunity and what the president said in his sworn deposition in the Paula Jones civil rights case.
In the deposition, Clinton denied any sexual relationship with Lewinsky, just as he has denied it publicly. During the deposition, lawyers for Jones provided him with a written definition of sexual relations that included intimate fondling and oral sex, but not kissing on the mouth.
Last month, CNN reported that Lewinsky, in her written proffer or summary provided to Starr's staff, is ready to testify she had oral sex with the president, but not intercourse.
But sources close to the investigation say even if she is granted immunity, Lewinsky is not prepared to testify that either Clinton or Jordan ever told her flatly to lie under oath about her alleged affair with the president.
The sources say Lewinsky is prepared to say the president and Jordan urged her to be "evasive," which legal experts say may not meet the test for encouraging perjury and obstructing justice.
Jordan, Clinton's confidant and a central player in the Lewinsky controversy, finished his second day of testimony before the grand jury.
After completing seven hours of testimony, Jordan made three points to waiting reporters."First of all, it is a fact that I helped Monica Lewinsky find private employment in New York," Jordan said. "Secondly, it is a fact that I took Monica Lewinsky to a very competent lawyer,
Frank Carter, here in Washington D.C. And thirdly, it is a fact that I kept the
president of the United States informed about my activities." (416K wav sound)
Jordan also said there was no "quid pro quo" arrangement with Lewinsky of a job for an affidavit and he did not tell her or encourage her to lie. (416K wav sound)
As Jordan finished his statement, he quoted the Apostle Paul and said he felt he had "fought a good fight." It is currently unknown if he will be asked to testify again. (480K wav sound)
On Tuesday, Jordan spent eight hours before the grand jury answering questions about his efforts to find Lewinsky a job and a lawyer when she became a witness in the Paula Jones lawsuit.
Jordan's second day before the grand jury postponed return appearances by presidential secretary Betty Currie and presidential adviser Bruce Lindsey, one of Clinton's oldest and closest friends.
Both were expected to testify this week, but sources now say they are scheduled to appear before the grand jury next week. The move delays, for now, a showdown between Starr and the White House over executive privilege.
During his previous two days of testimony, Lindsey declined to answer questions about his conversations with the president about Lewinsky. White House aides John Podesta and Sidney Blumenthal also have declined to answer such questions.
Judge Johnson has asked the two sides to work out an agreement for questioning senior White House aides, but sources say negotiations aimed at a compromise are stalled.
Sources close to the White House legal team confirm to CNN that Clinton
acknowledged in sworn testimony he was aware of efforts by Jordan to find Lewinsky a private sector job and had a relationship with her that included gift exchanges and possibly some meetings alone.
But these sources say the president ruled out any sexual relationship with Lewinsky and that his denial was based on a written definition of sexual relations provided to him by attorneys for Paula Jones near the outset of his
deposition in that civil rights case. [Full story]
Meanwhile, claims of ethical violations by Whitewater Independent Counsel Ken Starr were heard Thursday by a panel of three appeals court judges who expressed doubts they should even get involved in the issue.
Over the special prosecutor's objections, the 8th Circuit panel in Fayetteville, Ark., considered complaints by Connecticut attorney and persistent Starr critic Frank Mandanici. The panel is not expected to rule until later this year. [Full story]