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Transcript highlights of the witness depositions

Deposition highlights of Monica Lewinsky | Vernon Jordan | Sidney Blumenthal

Monica Lewinsky's deposition

Rep. Ed Bryant (R-Tennessee), who conducts the questioning for the House managers, welcomes former White House intern Monica Lewinsky to the deposition:

Bryant. Ms. Lewinsky, welcome back to Washington, and we wanted to just gather a few of our friends here to have this deposition now. We do have quite a number of people present, but we -- in spite of the numbers, we do want you to feel as comfortable as possible because I think we -- everyone present today has an interest in getting to the truth of this matter, and so as best as you can, we would appreciate your answers in a -- in a truthful and a fashion that you can recall.


Bryant. "I think, to be fair, we're -- we're obviously going to have to talk about some things for eight hours here, or else we can go home."

Lewinsky. "Sounds good to me."


Bryant. "Did you lie before the grand jury and to your friends about the nature of that relationship with the president?"

Lewinsky. "No."


Lewinsky describes her feelings about the president:

Bryant. Do you still have feelings for the President?

Lewinsky. I have mixed feelings.

Bryant. What, uh- - maybe you could tell us a little bit more about what those mixed feelings are.

Lewinsky. I think what you need to know is that my grand jury testimony is truthful irrespective of whatever those mixed feelings are in my testimony today.

Bryant. I know in your grand jury you mentioned some of your feelings that you felt after he spoke publicly about the relationship, but let me ask you more about the positive--you said there were mixed feelings. What about--do you still, uh, respect the President, still admire the President?

Lewinsky. Yes.

Bryant. Do you still appreciate what he is doing for this country as the President?

Lewinsky. Yes.

(Later)

I wanted to ask you--I talked to you a little bit about the President today and your feelings today that persist that you think he's a good President, and I assume you think he's a very intelligent man?

Lewinsky. I think he's an intelligent President.

[Laughter.]


Lewinsky testifies that she and Clinton did not discuss her affidavit in the Paula Jones case:

Bryant. "Was there any discussion of how you would accomplish preparing or filing an affidavit at that point?"

Lewinsky. "No."

Bryant. "Why didn't you want to testify? Why would not you -- why would you have wanted to avoid testifying?"

Lewinsky. "First of all, I thought it was nobody's business. Second of all, I didn't want to have anything to do with Paula Jones or her case."


Clinton testified to the grand jury that he told Lewinsky to turn over the subpoenaed gifts to the Jones attorneys. Here's her version:

Bryant. "Did the president ever tell you to turn over the gifts?"

Lewinsky. "Not that I remember."


Bryant asks Lewinsky if the president influenced the content of her Jones affidavit:

Bryant. "In his answer to this proceeding in the Senate, he has indicated that he thought he had -- might have had a way that he could have you -- get you to file a -- basically a true affidavit, but yet still skirt these issues enough that you wouldn't be called as a witness. Did he offer you any of these suggestions at this time?"

Lewinsky. "He didn't discuss the content of my affidavit with me at all, ever."

Bryant. "But, I mean, he didn't make an offer that, you know, 'Here's what you can do,' or 'Let me send you over something that can maybe keep you from committing perjury?"'

Lewinsky. "No. We never discussed perjury."


Lewinsky refuses to characterize Clinton's grand jury testimony as perjury:

Bryant. "Let me ask you, though -- I realize none of us were there -- but that statement, 'I was never really alone with Monica; right?' -- that was not -- he was alone with you on many occasions, was he not?

Lewinsky. "I'm not trying to be difficult, but I feel very uncomfortable making judgments on what someone else's statement when they're defining things however they want to define it. So if you -- if you ask me, Monica, were you alone with the president, I will say yes, but I'm not comfortable characterizing what someone else says."


Lewinsky objects to Bryant's continued use of the word "salacious" to describe her sexual encounters with the president:

Bryant. Let me shift gears just a minute and ask you about--and I'm going to be delicate about this because I'm conscious of people here in the room and my--my own personal concerns--but I want to refer you to the first so-called salacious occasion, and I'm not going to get into the details. I'm not--

Lewinsky. Can--can we--can you call it something else?

Bryant. Okay.

Lewinsky. I mean, this is--this is my relationship--

Bryant. What would you like to call it?

Lewinsky. --so, I mean, is--

Bryant. This is the--or this was--

Lewinsky. It was my first encounter with the President, so I don't really see it as my first salacious--that's not what this was.

Bryant. Well, that's kind of been the word that's been picked up all around. So--

Lewinsky. Right.

Bryant. --let's stay on this first--

Lewinsky. Encounter, maybe?

Bryant. Encounter, okay.

Lewinsky. Okay.


Vernon Jordan's testimony

Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R-Arkansas), the House managers who conducted the questioning, asked presidential friend and lobbyist Vernon Jordan about the law firm he works for, Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer and Feld:

Jordan. We have about 800 lawyers, yes.

Hutchinson. Which is an incredible number for lawyers from someone who practiced law in Arkansas. How do all of those lawyers--

Jordan. We have some members of our law firm who are from Arkansas, so it's not unusual for them.

Hutchinson. And how is it that you are able to obtain enough business for 800 lawyers?

Jordan. I don't think that's my entire responsibility. I'm just one of 800 lawyers, and that is what I do in part, but I'm not alone in that process of making rain.

Hutchinson. When you say "making rain," that's the terminology of being a rainmaker?

Jordan. I think even in Arkansas, you understand what rainmaking is.


Jordan describes his impression of Monica Lewinsky:

Hutchinson. During the course of the meeting with Ms. Lewinsky, what did you learn about her?

Jordan. Uh, enthusiastic, quite taken with herself and her experience, uh, bubbly, effervescent, bouncy, confident, uh-- actually, I sort of had the same impression that you House managers had of her when you met with her. You came out and said she was impressive, and so we come out about the same place.


Jordan gives his impressions of Lewinsky's feelings toward the president:

Hutchinson. And did she--from your conversation with her, did you determine that in your opinion, there was a fascination on her part with the President?

Jordan. No question about that.

Hutchinson. And I think you previously described it that she had a "thing" for the President?

Jordan. "Thing," yes.

Hutchinson. And did you make any specific inquiry as to the nature of the relationship that she had with the President?

Jordan. Yes. At some point during that conversation, I asked her directly if she had had sexual relationships with the President.

Hutchinson. And is this not an extraordinary question to ask a 24-year-old intern, whether she had sexual relations with the President of the United States?

Jordan. Not if you see--not if you had witnessed her emotional state and this "thing," as I say. It was not.

Hutchinson. And her emotional state and what she expressed to you about her feelings for the President is what prompted you to ask that question?

Jordan. That, plus the question of whether or not the President at the end of his term would leave the First Lady; and that was alarming and stunning to me.


Lewinsky testified that she told Jordan of her "phone sex" conversations with Clinton, but Jordan testifies that he cannot recall that disclosure:

Hutchinson. Let me go on. Did Ms. Lewinsky tell you that she and the President had had phone sex?

Jordan. I think Ms.--I know Ms. Lewinsky told me about, uh, telephone conversations with the President. If Ms. Lewinsky had told me something about phone sex, I think I would have remembered that.

Hutchinson. And therefore, if she testifies that she told you that Ms. Lewinsky and the President had phone sex, then you'd simply deny her testimony in that regard?

Jordan. I--

David Kendall: Object to the form.

Jordan. I have no recollection, Congressman, of Ms. Lewinsky telling me about phone sex--but given my age, I would probably have been interested in what that was all about.


In his grand jury testimony, Jordan denied that he met with Lewinsky at Washington's Park Hyatt hotel on December 31. When confronted with a breakfast meeting, Jordan said he still could not recall the meeting but didn't deny that it took place. Hutchinson questions Jordan about that receipt:

Hutchinson. And this receipt, is this a receipt for a charge that you had at the Park Hyatt on December 31st?

Jordan. That's an American Express receipt for breakfast.

Hutchinson. And is the date December 31st?

Jordan. That is correct.

Hutchinson. And does it reflect the items that were consumed at that breakfast?

Jordan. It reflects the items that were paid for at that breakfast.

[Laughter.]


There was a dispute between Jordan and Lewinsky's testimony over notes that the former intern had written to the president. Lewinsky said a remark Jordan made at the December 31 breakfast gave her the impression that she should get rid of the notes. Jordan denies that he suggested Lewinsky destroy the notes:

Hutchinson. And did you make a statement to her, "Go home and make sure they're not there"?

Jordan. Mr. Hutchinson, I'm a lawyer and I'm a loyal friend, but I'm not a fool, and the notion that I would suggest to anybody that they destroy anything just defies anything that I know about myself. So the notion that I said to her go home and destroy notes is ridiculous.

Hutchinson. Well, I appreciate that reminder of ethical responsibilities. It was--

Jordan. No, it had nothing to do with ethics, as much as it's just good common sense, mother wit. You remember that in the South.

Hutchinson. And so--and let me read a statement that she made to the grand jury on August 6th, 1998. This is the testimony of Ms. Lewinsky, referring to a conversation with you at the Park Hyatt that, "She," referring to Linda Tripp, "was my friend. I didn't really trust her. I used to trust her, but I didn't trust her anymore, and I was a little bit concerned because she had spent the night at my home a few times, and I thought--I told Mr. Jordan. I said, 'Well, maybe she's heard some'--you know, I mean, maybe she saw some notes lying around, and Mr. Jordan said, 'Notes from the President to you?,' and I said, 'No. Notes from me to the President,' and he said, 'Go home and make sure they're not there."'

Jordan. And, Mr. Hutchinson, I'm saying to you that I never heard the name "Linda Tripp" until I read the Judge--Drudge Report. Secondly, let me say to you that I, too, have read Ms. Lewinsky's testimony about that breakfast, and I can say to you, without fear of contradiction on my part, maybe on her part, that the notion that I told her to go home and destroy notes is just out of the question.


Sidney Blumenthal's testimony

House manager Jim Rogan (R-California) questions White House aide Sidney Blumenthal about a conversation Clinton and Blumenthal had about the nature of Clinton's relationship with Monica Lewinsky. In the conversation Clinton told Blumenthal that he tried to help Lewinsky because she was "troubled."

Rogan. Do you also remember in that conversation saying to him, "You really need to not do that at this point, that you can't get near anybody who is even remotely crazy. You're President"?

Blumenthal. Yes. I think that was a little later in the conversation, but I do recall saying that.

Rogan. When you told the President that he should avoid contact with troubled people, what did the President say to you in response?

Blumenthal. I'm trying to remember the sequence of it. He--he said that was very difficult for him. He said he--he felt a need to help troubled people, and it was hard for him to--to cut himself off from doing that.

Rogan. Do you remember him saying specifically, "It's very difficult for me to do that, given how I am. I want to help people"?

Blumenthal. I recall--I recall that.

Rogan. And when the President referred to trying to help people, did you understand him in that conversation to be referring to Monica Lewinsky?

Blumenthal. I think it included Monica Lewinsky, but also many others.


Blumenthal testified the president did lie to him when Clinton described the nature of his relationship with Lewinsky. Rogan asked Blumenthal whether the president ever recanted this story before Blumenthal's grand jury appearances:

Rogan. After you testified before the grand jury, did you ever communicate to the President the answers which you gave to those questions?

Blumenthal. No.

Rogan. After you were subpoenaed to testify but before you testified before the Federal grand jury, did the President ever recant his earlier statements to you about Monica Lewinsky?

Blumenthal. No.

Rogan. After you were subpoenaed but before you testified before the federal grand jury, did the President ever say that he did not want you to mislead the grand jury with a false statement?

Blumenthal. No. We didn't have any subsequent conversation about this matter.

Rogan. So it would be fair also to say that after you were subpoenaed but before you testified before the Federal grand jury, the President never told you that he was not being truthful with you in that January 21st conversation about Monica Lewinsky?

Blumenthal. Uh, he never spoke to me about that at all.

Rogan. The President never instructed you before your testimony before the grand jury not to relay his false account of his relationship with Monica Lewinsky?

Blumenthal. We--we didn't speak about anything.


Rep. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) questions Blumenthal about the White House's claim of executive privilege concerning his testimony:

Graham. When executive privilege was asserted, do you know how it came about? Do you have any knowledge of how it came about?

Blumenthal. What I recall is that I--in my first appearance before the grand jury, I was asked questions about my conversations with the President. And I went out into the hall, asked if I could go out in the hall, and I spoke with the White House legal counsel who was there, Cheryl Mills, and said, "What do I say?"

Graham. And she said?

Blumenthal. And I was advised to assert privilege.

Graham. So the executive privilege assertion came about from advice to you by White House counsel?

Blumenthal. Yes.


Investigating the President

MORE STORIES:

Friday, February 5, 1999

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