White House Appeals Lindsey Privilege Ruling
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, June 15) -- Attorneys for the White House have filed an appeal of a decision by Judge Norma Holloway Johnson to deny government attorney-client privilege to presidential aide Bruce Lindsey.
The ruling would have forced Lindsey to testify before the grand jury investigating the sex-and-perjury allegations against President Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.
Independent Counsel Ken Starr won the ruling from Johnson May 1. Anticipating the appeal, he then asked the Supreme Court to intervene and compel Lindsey to testify. The high court denied Starr's request on June 4, stating that the appellate court would proceed expeditiously.
The White House's brief on the appeal was due at the Circuit Court of Appeals Monday. The contents of the brief are under seal and secret.
Starr must submit his response brief on June 22. Arguments will be scheduled the week of the June 29. By then, the briefs, as well as the Secret Service's pleadings for privilege for three of its employees who have been ordered to testify, are expected to be publicly released in edited form.
Starr has argued that government-paid lawyers have no attorney-client privilege with the president and therefore must disclose the details of conversations regarding the Lewinsky scandal when called before the grand jury.
Lindsey and other White House lawyers have been in charge of tracking Starr's investigation by debriefing grand jury witnesses and their lawyers. During his initial visits to the grand jury, Lindsey declined to answer Starr's questions about his conversations with witnesses, the president and first lady and other senior White House aides, citing attorney-client privilege.
A lawyer familiar with the White House legal strategy tells CNN drafts of the White House brief to the Court of Appeals called Lindsey's conduct routine, and asserted it should be privileged because the Lewinsky investigation was certain to become a political issue and the possible source of congressional hearings. In the White House view, this justified having lawyers who technically represent the presidency -- not any president -- involved in the president's defense.