Justice Files 'Intent to Appeal' In Secret Service Privilege Dispute
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, June 1) -- The Justice Department has filed a notice of intent to appeal a court ruling compelling Secret Service personnel to testify in the investigation of President Bill Clinton's relationship with Monica Lewinsky.
The notice of intent does not guarantee an appeal, but does give the Justice Department the option should it choose to do so.
U.S. District Court Judge Norma Holloway Johnson ruled last month that Secret Service personnel who protect the president must answer questions before the grand jury investigating reports that Clinton had a sexual relationship with the former White House intern, and encouraged her to lie about it under oath. Clinton has denied both accusations.
The Justice Department and the Secret Service had attempted to invoke a "protective function privilege," arguing the possibility of testimony could force the president to distance himself from his protectors.
Johnson disagreed, saying she doubted presidents would automatically put themselves at risk if Secret Service personnel were to testify.
The Justice Department notice was filed under seal.
Weighing in with his opinion on the issue, former President Gerald Ford said Monday Secret Service agents guarding Clinton should testify if criminal charges are brought in the Lewinsky investigation.
Ford refrained from saying whether the president's top aides should be compelled to testify, though.
In comments at the Gerald R. Ford Foundation journalism awards ceremony, Ford also said Clinton should go ahead with his planned trip to China despite the current tensions in East Asia.
And the former president said House Speaker Newt Gingrich should refrain from criticizing the administration, particularly when traveling abroad. Gingrich was sharply critical of the administration's Middle East policy when traveling in Israel last month.
CNN's Pierre Thomas and Dave Adhicary contributed to this report.