Sources: Currie Testified Lewinsky Directed Gift Return
Lindsey back before grand jury
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Aug. 28) -- While a federal grand jury heard testimony Friday from presidential pal Bruce Lindsey in the sex-and-perjury investigation of President Bill Clinton, sources told CNN that conflicting testimony has already been given by Oval Office secretary Betty Currie and Monica Lewinsky about the return of gifts from Clinton.
Currie said under oath it was Lewinsky who asked her to retrieve gifts the president gave the former White House intern, two sources familiar with Currie's testimony tell CNN.
Lewinsky has testified under oath that Currie, the president's personal secretary, instigated an encounter at which Lewinsky surrendered the gifts, which were the subject of a subpoena in the Paula Jones sexual harassment suit.
The discrepancy is critical as Independent Counsel Ken Starr explores
whether there was an effort by the president and his allies to obstruct the
Jones lawsuit or the Starr investigation.
Lewinsky's account claims Currie came to Lewinsky's Watergate apartment and said she understood Lewinsky had something for her. This would suggest that Clinton or someone close to him told Currie to go pick up the gifts.
Currie's account says Lewinsky called her and asked her to come to the Watergate and pick up the gifts.
Both Clinton and Lewinsky have acknowledged, under oath, that they
discussed the gifts at a Dec. 28, 1997 meeting, after Lewinsky had been
subpoenaed in the Jones case.
According to sources, the president testified he told Lewinsky she
would have to turn over any gifts in her possession and that he was not aware
Lewinsky had turned over the gifts until it was reported during the early days
of the Lewinsky investigation.
Sources familiar with Lewinsky's account say she interpreted what the
president told her to mean that she would not have to turn the gifts
over if she did not have them in her possession.
Lindsey's return appearance to the grand jury had been anticipated for weeks. The elusive Lindsey is a significant figure in the probe even though he spent only five hours before the grand jury Friday.
Lindsey has been a major player in Clinton's life for 30 years, and it is his role as his confidential troubleshooter that has made Starr so intent on forcing his testimony.
The White House has been just as intent on blocking it, claiming Lindsey is covered by attorney-client privilege. And it has taken its fight to the Supreme Court. In April, federal Judge Norma Holloway Johnson rejected the privilege claim, ruling that Lindsey's testimony was vital.
"If the president disclosed to a senior adviser," Johnson wrote, "that he committed perjury, suborned perjury or obstructed justice, such a disclosure is not only unlikely to be recorded on paper, but it also would constitute some of the most relevant and important evidence to the grand jury."
Still unanswered questions: Just what advice did Lindsey give the president? What confidences did the president share with him? What contact did Lindsey have with other figures in the investigation like Linda Tripp or Lewinsky?
So even now, with the grand jury investigation in its late stages, Starr considers Lindsey so essential that he has ordered him in on a Friday when the regular grand jury is off. Instead, prosecutors will once again use a "borrowed" grand jury that is meeting.
At his last appearance Lindsey's testimony was interrupted when he claimed executive and attorney-client privilege.
The tortured appeals process continues to this day, and there was the possibility Lindsey could have made a similar claims this time , as was the case when White House special counsel Lanny Breuer made a recent grand jury appearance.
Meanwhile, a close associate of the president's says Clinton's thinking is mixed on expounding on his Aug. 17 speech regarding Lewinsky.
That source that Clinton sees indications in the polls that the American people heard his speech as an apology and want the country, as he does, to move on. But the source said Clinton does recognize that the speech did not please Democratic members of Congress or the media, the so-called "elites."
"It will be at a time or place the president feels right," says the source, indicating it may well be a spur-of-the-moment decision, though his words will be carefully chosen.
On Friday, although not directly mentioning the Lewinsky scandal, Clinton alluded to his personal problem during a speech marking the 35th anniversary of the historic civil rights march on Washington.
"All of you know I'm having to become quite an expert in this business of asking for forgiveness," Clinton said. "It gets a little easier the more you do it, and if you have a family, an administration, a Congress and a whole country to ask, you're going to get a lot of practice."
Tripp grand jury hears from Radio Shack workers
Over in Maryland, the grand jury investigating whether Linda Tripp broke the law when she secretly taped more than 20 hours of conversations with Lewinsky, heard from the Radio Shack employees who sold Tripp her recording device.
Radio Shack says it is company policy to warn customers that recording someone without consent is illegal in Maryland.
Tripp insists she didn't know the practice was illegal and reportedly denies she was informed of the law.
While it is illegal to tape someone without consent in Maryland, the law also states a person must be aware of the law in order to break it. Therefore, ignorance of the wiretapping law could be a defense for Tripp.
Tripp eventually gave her the tapes of Lewinsky to Starr, triggering the independent counsel's current investigation of the president.
CNN's John King, Bob Franken and Eileen O'Connor contributed to this report.