Former President Takes Issue With Starr's Attempt To Subpoena Secret Service
Pentagon official says there are no plans to fire Linda Tripp
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Former President George Bush weighed in on the side of the Secret Service in a Justice Department brief challenging Independent Counsel Ken Starr's attempt to compel Secret Service personnel to testify about President Bill Clinton's relationship or dealings with Monica Lewinsky.
Sources say that Bush volunteered his concerns about forcing agents and officers to tell what they know because of the unique relationship between a president and his security detail.
During the Bush Administration, Starr served as the Justice Department's Solicitor General, the main lawyer who argues cases on behalf of the government before the Supreme Court.
The court brief, filed under seal on behalf of the Secret Service, argues for a new privilege for agents and officers unless they see a crime.
For nearly eight weeks, Starr and Justice officials have been haggling trying to reach a compromise. But talks broke down and last week Starr filed a sealed motion to force not only officers to testify, but also a Secret Service attorney.
Sources tell CNN Starr wants to talk with attorney John Kelleher because he believes Kelleher has been told by some Secret Service personnel about alleged encounters between Clinton and Lewinsky. Starr's not talking particulars but has made clear in the past he wants Secret Service testimony.
But one government source told CNN, the Secret service, doesn't "want to be part of a fishing expedition."
As part of the Justice Department brief, sources say former Secret Service personnel argued confidentiality is critical to the Service's ability to protect the president.
The official line out of the Justice Department is they still hope they can reach a compromise with the independent counsel. But now that a court battle has begun, some Justice officials fear a compromise may be more difficult. Some also fear they may lose in court.
Starr is investigating reports Clinton had a sexual relationship with Lewinsky and encouraged her to lie about it under oath. Clinton has denied both accusations.
Pentagon Has No Plans To Fire Linda Tripp
A Pentagon spokesman said Tuesday an allegation that Defense Department employee Linda Tripp, whose actions prompted the Monica Lewinsky investigation, might soon be out of a job is not true.
"She has not been demoted, and contrary to the assertions of some, there is no plan to fire Linda Tripp," said Defense Department spokesman Capt. Mike Doubleday.
The assertion was made by Tripp's attorney.
Doubleday told reporters Tripp remains a "public affairs specialist" working for the Pentagon in the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference [JCOC] and will continue to do so at her discretion.
Her $88,500-a- year job is a political appointee slot, which means that she does not enjoy the protections of a civil service employee, but instead "serves at the pleasure of the president." In theory she could be fired at any time with little recourse.
Tripp's assignment has been somewhat modified since she was thrust into public scrutiny. Someone else has been assigned to take over her former duties and she now works from her home and has been assigned to produce a "manual" outlining "standard operating procedure" for public affairs specialists working for the JCOC, Doubleday said.
Doubleday acknowledged that Tripp has been spending a "significant" amount of time working with Starr on the case against President Bill Clinton. He referred reporters to Starr's office for a tally of hours spent working with them.
Tripp continues to be paid by the Defense Department, regardless of where or how she spends her time.
CNN's Chris Plante and Pierre Thomas contributed to this report.