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 TIME on politics Congressional Quarterly CNN/AllPolitics CNN/AllPolitics - Resources

President Clinton testifies before the Kenneth Starr grand jury to discuss his relationship with Monica Lewinsky

Segment One

September 21, 1998
NEWS EVENT
WILLIAM J. CLINTON
PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
WASHINGTON, D.C.
TESTIFIES TO GRAND JURY

AUGUST 17, 1998

SPEAKER: WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES

(UNKNOWN): Mr. President, would you raise your right hand, please? Do you solemnly swear that the testimony you're about to give in this matter will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?

CLINTON: I do.

QUESTION: Good afternoon, Mr. President.

CLINTON: Good afternoon.

QUESTION: Could you please state your full name for the record, sir?

CLINTON: William Jefferson Clinton.

QUESTION: My name is Sol Wisenberg. I'm a deputy independent counsel with the Office of Independent Counsel. And with me today are some other attorneys from the Office of Independent Counsel.

At the courthouse are the ladies and gentlemen of the grand jury prepared to receive your testimony as you give it. Do you understand, sir?

CLINTON: Yes, I do.

QUESTION: This proceeding is subject to Rule 6(e) of the federal rules of criminal procedure as modified by Judge Johnson's order.

You are appearing voluntarily today as part of an agreement worked out between your attorney, the Office of the Independent Counsel, and with the approval of Judge Johnson. Is that correct, sir?

CLINTON: That is correct.

(UNKNOWN): Mr. Wisenberg, excuse me. You referred to Judge Johnson's order. I'm not familiar with that order. Have we been served that or not?

QUESTION: No. My understand is that that is an order that the judge is going to sign today. She didn't have the name of Awaka (ph). A person -- basically, my understanding is that it will cover all of the attorneys here today and the technical people in the room. So that they would be authorized personally to be permitted to hear grand jury testimony that they otherwise wouldn't be authorized to hear.

(UNKNOWN): Thank you.

QUESTION: The grand jury, Mr. President, has been empaneled by a United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Do you understand that, sir?

CLINTON: I do.

QUESTION: And among other things, it's currently investigating under the authority of the Court of Appeals upon application by the attorney general whether Monica Lewinsky or others obstructed justice, intimidated witnesses or committed other crimes related to the case of Jones versus Clinton. Do you understand that, sir?

CLINTON: I do.

QUESTION: And today, you will be receiving questions not only from attorneys on the OIC staff, but from some of the grand jurors, too. Do you understand that?

CLINTON: Yes, sir. I do.

QUESTION: I'm going to talk briefly about your rights and responsibilities as a grand jury witness. Normally, grand jury witnesses, while not allowed to have attorneys in the grand jury room with them, can stop and consult with their attorneys.

But our arrangement today, your attorneys are here and present for consultation. (OFF-MIKE) to consult with them as necessary, but it won't count against (OFF-MIKE). Do you understand that, sir?

CLINTON: I do understand that.

QUESTION: You have a privilege against self-incrimination. If a truthful answer to any question would tend to incriminate you, you can invoke the privilege and that application will not be used against you. Do you understand that?

CLINTON: I do.

QUESTION: And if you don't invoke it, however, any of the answers that you do give can and will be used against you. Do you understand that, sir?

CLINTON: I do.

QUESTION: Mr. President, do you understand that your testimony here today is under oath?

CLINTON: I do.

QUESTION: And do you understand that because you've been sworn to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, that if you were to lie or intentionally mislead the grand jury you could be prosecuted for perjury and/or obstruction of justice?

CLINTON: I believe that's correct.

QUESTION: Is there anything that you -- I have stated to you regarding your rights and responsibilities that you would like me to clarify that you don't understand?

CLINTON: No, sir.

QUESTION: Mr. President, I'd like to read for you a portion of federal ...(ph) 603, which discusses the important function the oath has in our judicial system.

It says that the purpose of the oath is 1) quote, "calculated to awaken the witness' conscience and impress the witness' mind with the duty" end quote -- to tell the truth.

Could you please tell the grand jury what that oath means to you for today's testimony?

CLINTON: I have sworn an oath to tell the grand jury the truth and that's what I intend to do.

QUESTION: You understand it requires you to give the whole truth, that is a complete answer to each question, sir?

CLINTON: I will answer each question as accurately and fully as I can.

QUESTION: Now, you took the same oath to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth on January 17, 1998 in a deposition in the Paul Jones litigation, is that correct, sir?

CLINTON: I did take an oath there.

QUESTION: Did the oath you took on that occasion mean the same to you then as it does today?

CLINTON: I believed then that I had to answer the questions truthfully, that's correct.

QUESTION: I'm sorry, I didn't hear you, sir.

CLINTON: I believe that I had to answer the questions truthfully, that's correct.

QUESTION: And it meant the same to you then as it does today?

CLINTON: Well, no one read me a definition then and we didn't go through this exercise then. I swore an oath to tell the truth and I believed I was bound to be truthful and I tried to be.

QUESTION: At the Paula Jones deposition, you were represented by Mr. Robert Bennett, your counsel, is that correct?

CLINTON: That is correct.

QUESTION: He was authorized by you to be your representative, or your attorney, is that correct?

CLINTON: That is correct.

QUESTION: Your counsel, Mr. Bennett, indicated that -- page five of the deposition, lines 10 through 12, I'm quoting: "The president intends to give full and complete answers as Ms. Jones is entitled to have." End quote.

QUESTION: My question to you is -- Do you agree with your counsel that his client in the sexual harassment case is, to use his words, "entitled to have the truth"?

CLINTON: I believe that I was bound to give truthful answers. Yes, sir.

QUESTION: But the question is, sir, do you agree with your counsel that a plaintiff in a sexual harassment case is entitled to have the truth?

CLINTON: I believe when a witness is under oath in a civil case or otherwise under oath, the witness should do everything possible to answer the questions truthfully.

QUESTION: I want to turn over questioning now to Mr. Bittman of our office, Mr. President.

QUESTION: Good afternoon, Mr. President.

CLINTON: Good afternoon, Mr. Bittman.

QUESTION: My name is Robert Bittman. I'm an attorney with the Office of Independent Counsel.

Mr. President, we are first going to turn to some of the details of your relationship with Monica Lewinsky that follow on your deposition that you provided in the Paula Jones case as was referenced on January 17, 1998.

The questions are uncomfortable and I apologize for that in advance. I'll try to be as brief and direct as possible.

Mr. President, were you physically intimate with Monica Lewinsky?

CLINTON: Mr. Bittman, I think maybe I can save the -- you and the grand jurors a lot of time if I read a statement which I think will make it clear what the nature of my relationship with Ms. Lewinsky was, how it related to the testimony I gave, what I was trying to do in that testimony. And I think it will perhaps make it possible for you to ask even more relevant questions from your point of view.

CLINTON: And with your permission, I'd like to read that statement.

(UNKNOWN): Absolutely. Please, Mr. President.

CLINTON: When I was alone with Ms. Lewinsky on certain occasions in early 1996, and once in early 1997, I engaged in conduct that was wrong. These encounters did not consist of sexual intercourse. They did not constitute sexual relations, as I understood that term to be defined at my January 17th, 1998 deposition.

But they did involve inappropriate, intimate contact. These inappropriate encounters ended at my insistence in early 1997. I also had occasional telephone cone dignity of the office I hold, this is all I will say about the specifics of these particular matters.

I will try to answer to the best of my ability other questions, including questions about my relationship with Ms. Lewinsky, questions about my understanding of the term of sexual relations, as I understood it to be defined at my January 17th, 1998, deposition, and questions concerning alleged subordination of perjury, obstruction of justice and intimidation of witnesses.

CLINTON: That, Mr. Bittman, is my statement.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. And we would like to take a break.

CLINTON: Would you like to have this?

QUESTION: Yes, please. As a matter of fact, why don't we have that marked as grand jury exhibit WBAC-1 (ph).

CLINTON: So, are we going to take a break?

QUESTION: Yes, we'll take a break. And we have the camera off now, please.

End Segment One


Continue on to Segment Two


Transcript by The Federal Document Clearing House.


Investigating the President
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