Clinton Leans Against A Second Lewinsky Speech
Starr's report unlikely to include explicit details of Clinton-Lewinsky relationship
By John King and Bob Franken/CNN
WASHINGTON (Aug. 26) -- President Bill Clinton has all but ruled out a second major speech to the American people about the Monica Lewinsky controversy, several senior administration officials told CNN.
These officials, however, say many senior aides believe the
president should say something about the controversy before the news conference scheduled during his upcoming summit meeting with President Boris Yeltsin of Russia.
Whether the president will accept that advice, however, is unclear.
Clinton has three scheduled opportunities between now and his Monday departure for Moscow: a Thursday appearance in Massachusetts, his weekly radio address Saturday and an Aug. 31 education speech before leaving for Russia.
Several aides said it was possible Clinton would allude to the time spent with his family on Martha's Vineyard or make some other brief reference to the controversy in some public setting. But they said no decisions have been made and the prepared remarks for Thursday's event contain no reference to Lewinsky or the investigation, direct or indirect.
One of a half-dozen top aides interviewed Wednesday by CNN said that it was now a consensus within the White House that the president would not deliver a second formal message to the American people on the controversy. One of the advisers warned that "that is the current thinking and this situation is very fluid."
The first lady and attorney David Kendall are among those urging the president to say as little as possible, because of the uncertainty of what Independent Counsel Ken Starr will report to Congress.
These aides acknowledge that the president will likely have no choice but to address the controversy at news conferences like the one scheduled with Yelstin.
Will it be X-rated?
No decision has been made about whether to go into explicit detail about Clinton's sexual relationship with Lewinsky in the so-called "executive summary" that Starr plans to send to Congress, a source familiar with the Starr's investigation told CNN.
In fact, that document -- intended for public release -- will "probably not go into such detail," said the source, who is familiar with Starr's thinking about the matter. "That is not Ken Starr's style," he said.
A Newsweek report that the summary would contain descriptions of some "pretty unusual" behavior are "probably not right," said the source, who pointed out that the details will be part of the voluminous grand jury record that will go to Capitol Hill.
An alternate report?
Some of Clinton's close advisers in the Lewinsky controversy are pushing for his lawyers to compile and release an "alternative" to any report to Congress by Starr.
Advocates of such a document contend it would be a powerful tool for rebutting allegations expected in the Starr report.
If the Clinton legal team drafted such a report, it would be based on public information as well as dozens of interviews lawyers loyal to the White House have conducted with witnesses called before Starr's Lewinsky grand jury.
Two advisers told CNN Wednesday they think a report is necessary to counter Starr's evidence. The two however, in addition to a third source, said no decision to draft such a report had been made.
As for the Lewinsky grand jury, no significant witness is expected Thursday, sources say. Rather it will be a so-called "summary witness."
That most likely will be a staff FBI agent or prosecutor to bring the jurors up to date on context. This kind of witness is routine for this grand jury and all grand juries.
There have been no decisions on witnesses next week, CNN is told. There have been no decisions yet on whether Betty Currie, the president's personal secretary, or presidential confidant and Deputy White House Counsel Bruce Lindsey will be recalled.
Also, there has been no decision on whether the president will be subpoenaed.
This source points out that the grand jury proceedings could continue even after the independent counsel sends his report to Congress.