Secret Service Officers Meet With Prosecutors
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, May 10) -- Several Secret Service officers, accompanied by Justice Department lawyers, have met with prosecutors from the office of independent counsel Ken Starr, but the meeting failed to resolve differences over just how detailed the agents should be in discussing their work at the White House.
The Friday meeting, first reported by Time magazine and confirmed by CNN on Sunday, was the latest in a series of sessions held in recent weeks as the two sides try to find a compromise in the dispute over Secret Service testimony in the Monica Lewinsky investigation.
One lawyer familiar with the meeting told CNN the uniformed agents answered several questions about White House operations.
But their attorneys objected to specific questions about Lewinsky's visits to the West Wing, and the lawyer says chances for a compromise are all but dead.
The lawyer said federal Judge Norma Holloway Johnson, who is overseeing the grand jury investigating the Lewinsky matter, is likely to have a closed hearing on the issue in the next week to 10 days. She has repeatedly urged the two sides to try to work out their differences.
The Secret Service contends it deserves a "protective privilege" and that testifying about specific episodes could undermine a president's trust of his security detail.
Starr contends the agents cannot withhold information critical to a criminal investigation. Time reported that Lew Merletti, the director of the Secret Service, has said he plans to fight Starr all the way to the Supreme Court to prevent agents from testifying in court.
Separately, a source close to the investigation sharply disputed recent reports that Starr had a June deadline for a report to Congress.
The source said "there is no deadline, period." Disputes over Secret Service testimony, executive privilege and Lewinsky's appeal of a decision that she does not have a binding immunity deal with Starr's office "could take several months or more" to resolve, the source said.