Lawmakers call for investigation of Blumenthal
White House aide again denies he was source of anti-Lewinsky stories
February 7, 1999
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, February 7) -- House impeachment managers and senators on both sides of the aisle called Sunday for an investigation into allegations that White House aide Sidney Blumenthal may have made false statements in the deposition he gave last week in President Bill Clinton's trial.
In a sworn affidavit and in an appearance Sunday on NBC's "Meet The Press," journalist Christopher Hitchens said Blumenthal told him and other reporters derogatory information about Monica Lewinsky, including a description of her as a stalker.
In his Senate deposition, Blumenthal said he had "no idea" how negative comments about Lewinsky came to be attributed to a White House source in the media.
Earlier, in front of Independent Counsel Ken Starr's grand jury, Blumenthal testified that Clinton provided him with derogatory information about Lewinsky, including saying that other people described her a stalker. In his Senate deposition, Blumenthal said he now believes Clinton lied to him, but he said he did not pass those lies on to reporters.
But Hitchens said he believes that "of most of the people I know in the (journalism) profession who heard that story, they know it either directly or indirectly from Mr. Blumenthal."
"As far as I could see, there was only one reason that that story was in print, and it was because the White House wanted it to be," he said on "Meet The Press."
Hitchens also said that "I don't expect anyone to come and contradict me."
In a statement released Sunday by his lawyer, Blumenthal reiterated that he "was never a source for any story about Monica Lewinsky's personal life." He said that while he doesn't remember the particular conversation to which Hitchens is referring, any conversations with Hitchens were with a friend, not a reporter.
"I did not reveal what the president told me to any reporter. As I testified to the Senate, I talked every day about the stories in the news concerning Miss Lewinsky to my friends and family, just as everyone else is doing." the statement read.
"Though I do not recall the luncheon with my then-friend of 15 years, Christopher Hitchens and his wife, the notion that I was trying to plant a story with this rabid anti-Clinton friend is absurd. My wife and I are saddened that Christopher has chosen to end our friendship in this meaningless way," he said.
Hitchens, who writes for Vanity Fair and The Nation, has been a longtime Clinton critic.
Both Democratic and Republican senators called Sunday for an investigation into the possible discrepancies in Blumenthal's testimony by either the Senate or the Justice Department
"(It) raises very serious questions about whether Sidney Blumenthal was truthful in his sworn deposition," said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) on CBS's "Face The Nation." "It's an affront to the Senate if he wasn't truthful."
"I would hope that he isn't lying. I think if he is, it's serious," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) on "Meet The Press." "I think one of the most difficult parts of all of this for me has been the concept of Monica Lewinsky as a stalker, because that has a certain diabolical ring to it. And it isn't a nice thing to do."
"Blumenthal may have a problem, because he clearly said that he didn't do what (Hitchens) now says that he did," said Sen. John Breaux (D-Louisiana) on "Face The Nation." But Breaux said the allegation "doesn't have anything to do with regard to the president."
"He lied to Sidney Blumenthal, but he did not instruct Sidney Blumenthal to go out and tell everybody in America about it," Breaux said.
However, Rep. Bill McCollum (R-Florida), one of the House impeachment managers, said Hitchens' allegations point to a "pattern" of behavior in which the president tells "his aides lies, really big whoppers" with the intent of getting them to pass the stories along.
But should there be an investigation of Blumenthal, Hitchens indicated Sunday that he may be reluctant to help. He said the idea that Blumenthal could be prosecuted while Clinton is acquitted on impeachment charges by the Senate "would be a scandal and a disgrace."
"I would rather be held in contempt than support such a scandalous outcome. I won't testify if it's just against (Blumenthal)," Hitchens said. "The point is (that) the president made sure, some way or another, that the story got into print. It was a threat against a potential witness -- a very vulgar and crude one, very typical of his modus operandi."
Sunday, February 7, 1999
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