He Said, She Said: Clinton Prepares To Testify
(Editor's note: This report contains explicit language)
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Aug. 16) -- On the eve of President Bill Clinton's historic grand jury testimony, perhaps only the president himself knows exactly what he intends to tell the grand jurors about the nature of his relationship with Monica Lewinsky.
But speculation has abounded.
Both Clinton and Lewinsky denied under oath in depositions for the Paula Jones sexual harassment lawsuit that they had a sexual relationship.
And in January the president forcefully announced, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky."
But sources say during her grand jury appearance Aug. 6, Lewinsky told the grand jury she did have several sexual encounters with Clinton, none of which included actual sexual intercourse.
So if it is a question of he-said, she-said, what exactly did he say? And could the president's definition of what happened with the former intern have created the alleged discrepancy? Did the president's denial specifically cover the activities Lewinsky is claiming?
In the Paula Jones case, the president was asked, "Did you have an extramarital affair with Monica Lewinsky?"
"No," Clinton answered.
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But Clinton is famous for hairsplitting evasions. During the 1992 presidential campaign, he denied having an affair with Gennifer Flowers, then years later admitted that, in fact, they did have sex once, in 1977.
So during his initial deposition, Jones' lawyers worked to pin him down on the Lewinsky matter.
"Have you ever had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky as that term is defined in Deposition Exhibit One?" they asked.
Exhibit One defined "sexual relations" far more broadly than mere intercourse.
"When the person knowingly engages in or causes contact with the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks of any person, with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person," the definition read.
After the judge said Clinton could be shown that definition, he said: "I have never had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky."
Some suggest the president's lawyers could argue he was confused about what he was being asked, but that would be a tough sell.
On the matter of sex the conflict is stark. But on other matters, the president left himself more wiggle room than people commonly suppose.
For example, when questioned about gifts he allegedly gave to Lewinsky, Clinton claimed not to have a clear memory.
"Have you ever given any gifts to Monica Lewinsky?" Jones' team asked.
"I don't recall. Do you know what they were?" Clinton responded.
"A hat pin?" the lawyer answered.
"I don't, I don't remember. But I certainly, I could have," Clinton countered.
"A book about Walt Whitman?" the lawyer asked.
"I could have given her a gift, but I don't remember a specific gift," Clinton answered.
The president admitted shopping for gifts at the Black Dog gift shop in Martha's Vineyard, but said it was his secretary's idea and "I bought a lot of things for a lot of people."
"What in particular was given to Monica?" Jones' team questioned.
"I don't remember," Clinton said.
It's hard to make a perjury case against anyone who keeps saying, "I don't remember, I don't recall." And the president did that repeatedly.
Another example: Were they ever alone?
"At any time, were you and Monica Lewinsky alone together in the Oval Office?" Jones' lawyers asked.
"I don't recall. ... It's possible that she ... brought something to me and that at the time she brought it to me, she was the only person there. That's possible, " Clinton explained.
"At any time have you and Monica Lewinsky ever been alone together in any room in the White House?" the lawyers questioned.
"I have no specific recollection, " Clinton said.
"Have you ever met with Monica Lewinsky in the White House between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m.?" the team asked.
"I just can't say that, there could have been a time when that occurred, I just -- but I don't remember it, " Clinton responded.
And as to whether the president coached Lewinsky to cover up their relationship, his testimony was so vague it could hardly conflict with anything Lewinsky says.
"Have you ever talked to Monica Lewinsky about the possibility that she might be asked to testify in this lawsuit?" the legal team asked.
"I'm not sure. ... I might have mentioned something to her about it ... I don't want to say for sure I didn't," Clinton said.
"What, if anything, did Monica Lewinsky say in response?" the lawyer asked.
"Nothing that I can remember," Clinton answered.
And what about the job interviews that presidential pal Vernon Jordan lined up for her? The president said he knew very little.
"I thought he had given her some advice about her move to New York. Seems like that's what Betty [Currie] said." Clinton said.
Betty Currie is the president's personal secretary.
The president claimed a foggy memory on almost every point, except sex. He said there wasn't any. Lewinsky reportedly says otherwise. It's as clear a conflict as one can imagine.
After Clinton is presumably asked Monday to clarify his vague answers, it will be up to Independent Counsel Ken Starr to sort out the legal consequences of any remaining conflict between the testimony of the president and the testimony of the 25-year-old former intern.
CNN's Brooks Jackson contributed to this report.