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Secret Service Agents' Attorneys: Starr May Be Disappointed

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Larry Cockell walks with other Secret Service agents to the courthouse  

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, July 19) -- As at least seven Secret Service agents prepare to testify this week before Independent Counsel Ken Starr's grand jury, attorneys representing some of them are downplaying speculation that they might have knowledge about President Clinton's alleged relationship with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

"It just seems inconceivable to me that the president would be having conversations with persons he wanted to talk in private with in the presence of his Secret Service agents," said John Kotelly, an attorney for agent Larry Cockell, the head of Clinton's security detail.

In an interview on ABC's "This Week," Kotelly also said that there are many times when agents are out of earshot.

"In cases where [Clinton] is in private situations, secure situations like in the White House, the president has privacy, and the Secret Service respects that privacy," he said.

Lawyer Michael Leibig, who represents three uniformed agents, says Secret Service personnel are actually trained not to pay attention to a president's activities and conversations.

Starr
Starr  

"Normal police officers -- say a homicide detective -- is a trained witness to perceive and notice things. But the training of the uniformed division officers is specifically not to pay attention, once they've cleared the security issues," he said in an interview Sunday on NBC's "Meet The Press."

Stepped up schedule for grand jury

Starr's grand jury, which normally meets twice a week, is scheduled to meet three days this week, on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The Secret Service agents are on a list of anticipated witnesses that also includes Linda Tripp and Clinton's personal secretary, Betty Currie.

The agents' testimony comes after the Secret Service lost a court fight last week to quash Starr's subpoenas on the grounds that anything agents see or hear while protecting a president should be privileged. Three agents already testified Friday.

In its latest issue, Time magazine is reporting that Starr may ask Cockell whether Lewinsky and Clinton spoke on the telephone while he was traveling in Bosnia last year. And Newsweek is reporting that at least two Secret Service officers have already told Justice Department lawyers that they saw Lewinsky and Clinton alone together, though not in any embarrassing situations.

Starr is investigating allegations that Clinton and Lewinsky had a sexual affair, then lied about it under oath and encouraged Tripp and others to give false testimony as part of a cover-up. The president has denied the charges.

Lott: Agents 'appear to be hiding something'

In an interview on "Fox News Sunday," Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) urged Clinton to testify in front of Starr's grand jury, saying "the truth will set you free."

Lewinsky
Lewinsky  

He also said that Secret Service officers "appear to be hiding something."

"What is it?," he said. "If there's no problem, just come forward, tell the truth and that'll be it. We'll move on."

But Leibig said charges that Secret Service agents may not be telling the truth are "offensive."

"There's absolutely no basis for anyone to say anybody appears to be hiding something," he said in an interview on CNN's "Late Edition."

CNN's John King, Wolf Blitzer, Bob Franken and Gene Randall contributed to this report.
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Sunday, July 19, 1998

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Secret Service Agents' Attorneys: Starr May Be Disappointed
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