Lead Secret Service Agent Testifies
Harold Ickes makes a surprise appearance; Monica turns 25
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, July 23) -- Independent Counsel Ken Starr enlisted two grand juries Thursday to hear testimony on the Monica Lewinsky matter from several Secret Service agents and officers, including Larry Cockell, the lead agent on President Bill Clinton security detail.
And in another surprise move by the independent counsel, Harold Ickes, a former deputy White House chief of staff, was subpoenaed to testify as well.
Members of the president's Secret Service security detail who paraded in and out of the federal courthouse began testifying last week under a court order. This time though Cockell didn't just hang out like he did last Friday but instead actually testified.
In order to expedite testimony from the many witnesses, Starr had another grand jury, in addition to the normal Lewinsky panel, hear from the Secret Service personnel.
At the end of Cockell's hour-long testimony his attorney, John Kotelly, told reporters, "Agent Cockell testified to every question asked of him, he testified truthfully, he did not have to invoke privilege for any of the questions that were asked."
Cockell planned to refuse to answer any questions pertaining to conversations he overheard between Clinton and the president's personal attorney while riding back to the White House last January after Clinton's deposition in the Paula Jones civil case.
The president's former top bodyguard instructed his lawyer not to comment on the content of his testimony because he "believes very strongly that things he sees and hears when in protective service for the president, is confidential and should not be talked about in public," Kotelly said.
Kotelly said he believes Cockell's testimony is complete now and the 17-year Secret Service veteran now hopes to return to his lead post protecting the president. Administration sources say they are deciding whether and when he can resume his duties as head of the president's security detail.
Kotelly acknowledged some of the difficult the public dispute over Secret Service testimony has caused Cockell: "Obviously, he will not be anonymous because of the notoriety, his picture has been in every newspaper, he's been on TV, he's had cameras outside his home, he will not be able to have the same type of anonymity he had before, and obviously he regrets losing that anonymity, because in some ways that affects his ability to do his job in protecting the president."
Ickes received a surprise subpoena from Starr's office Thursday morning and showed up at the courthouse that afternoon. He said his testimony only lasted for about 25 minutes and that he was told he would be called back.
Sources familiar with his questioning say the emphasis was on his days as deputy chief of staff when Lewinsky was at the White House.
They say prosecutors timed Ickes' recall so they could compare his account with observations of the Secret Service agents and officers.
Ickes served at the White House post during Lewinsky's internship, when she had a paying White House job, and at the time another deputy chief of staff, Evelyn Lieberman, had Lewinsky transferred to a Pentagon job after receiving complaints from a Secret Service officer about Lewinsky's West Wing visits.
Starr is investigating allegations the president had a sexual relationship with Lewinsky and asked her to lie about it under oath. Clinton has repeatedly denied both charges.
Ickes is currently serving as an unpaid White House adviser on damage control in the Lewinsky investigation.
The alleged relationship took place in 1995 when Lewinsky was a White House intern. Thursday, she celebrates her 25th birthday.
Lewinsky is still in California visiting her father.
As is their custom, officials with the Office of the Bar Counsel of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals are refusing to comment on a report that Starr's staff, including top deputy Jackie Bennett, are being investigated for alleged ethics violations.
The D.C. Bar Association refers any complaints to the Office of the Bar Counsel of the D.C. Court of Appeals, which is the highest local court in the District of Columbia. The Bar Association itself does not investigate ethical questions.
Leonard Becker of the Office of the Bar Counsel said, "No comment."
Under court rules, officials can release details of any investigation only after it is completed and disciplinary action is taken. Until then, all proceedings are confidential.
Bennett was cited by Starr in the magazine "Brill's Content" as his main conduit to reporters.
There was no immediate reaction from the Office of the Independent Counsel.
USA Today reported Thursday the D.C. Bar has notified Staff's staff, including Bennett, that they are subject to an inquiry involving ethics violations.
The independent counsel's office has come under investigation because of allegations by Clinton's attorneys that illegal leaks of secret grand jury information were made to the news media.
Starr is fighting an order by presiding Judge Norma Holloway Johnson that would force him and his staff to cooperate with the president's lawyers in the investigation, including releasing documents and making prosecutors available for questioning by the president's attorneys.
Maryland investigator denies political motivation
The Maryland state prosecutor, Stephen Montanarelli, has responded to questions that his decision to investigate Linda Tripp for taping phone calls with Lewinsky might be politically motivated.
On Wednesday, Montanarelli released a statement saying he was responding to a Freedom of Information request by a state delegate asking for all communications the state prosecutor's office has had with elected officials or anyone else who might have encouraged or questioned him about a Tripp investigation.
Montanarelli disclosed about eight communications with state politicians, none of which exerted any pressure, he said, to either pursue the Tripp investigation or call it off.
As to Tripp's attorneys' claim that Montanarelli has told them that he is receiving pressure to investigate, he wrote, "They are in error."
Montanarelli wrote that a letter from 49 Democratic Maryland delegates had not been sent to his office directly; it was forwarded to him from Marna McClendon, the Howard County prosecutor who turned the investigation over to Montanarelli after determining that the case was too political for an elected prosecutor to handle.
Montanarelli says he has met with Tripp's attorneys on two occasions, Feb. 16 and June 8.
They asked him to decline the investigation, he said. The request was denied and Montanarelli said it would be investigated.
"I assume that they related that to their client so that it would not have surprised Ms. Tripp or intimidated her when I announced the grand jury investigation," he said. "If it did, then I attribute it to poor timing on my part.
"There was no malice intended. Investigations are initiated based on the workload of the office, priorities and other factors, not the wishes of the subjects of the investigation," Montanarelli wrote. "As to my political motivations, I have none. I intend to serve my remaining years as a public official as State Prosecutor."
Montanarelli also wrote that he signed an affidavit on May 18, 1998, in accordance with Maryland's law governing his office, stating that he will not accept appointment or be a candidate for any state or local office while serving as state prosecutor or for a three-year period after.