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Investigating The President

F. Gifts

Ms. Lewinsky and the President exchanged numerous gifts. By her estimate, she gave him about 30 items, and he gave her about 18.(72) Ms. Lewinsky's first gift to him was a matted poem given by her and other White House interns to commemorate "National Boss Day," October 24, 1995.(73) This was the only item reflected in White House records that Ms. Lewinsky gave the President before (in her account) the sexual relationship began, and the only item that he sent to the archives instead of keeping.(74) On November 20 -- five days after the intimate relationship began, according to Ms. Lewinsky -- she gave him a necktie, which he chose to keep rather than send to the archives.(75) According to Ms. Lewinsky, the President telephoned the night she gave him the tie, then sent her a photo of himself wearing it.(76) The tie was logged pursuant to White House procedures for gifts to the President.(77)

In a draft note to the President in December 1997, Ms. Lewinsky wrote that she was "very particular about presents and could never give them to anyone else -- they were all bought with you in mind."(78) Many of the 30 or so gifts that she gave the President reflected his interests in history, antiques, cigars, and frogs. Ms. Lewinsky gave him, among other things, six neckties, an antique paperweight showing the White House, a silver tabletop holder for cigars or cigarettes, a pair of sunglasses, a casual shirt, a mug emblazoned "Santa Monica," a frog figurine, a letter opener depicting a frog, several novels, a humorous book of quotations, and several antique books.(79) He gave her, among other things, a hat pin, two brooches, a blanket, a marble bear figurine, and a special edition of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass.(80)

Ms. Lewinsky construed it as a sign of affection when the President wore a necktie or other item of clothing she had given him. She testified: "I used to say to him that 'I like it when you wear my ties because then I know I'm close to your heart.' So -- literally and figuratively."(81) The President was aware of her reaction, according to Ms. Lewinsky, and he would sometimes wear one of the items to reassure her -- occasionally on the day they were scheduled to meet or the day after they had met in person or talked by telephone.(82) The President would sometimes say to her, "Did you see I wore your tie the other day?"(83)

In his grand jury testimony, the President acknowledged that he had exchanged a number of gifts with Ms. Lewinsky. After their intimate relationship ended in 1997, he testified, "[S]he continued to give me gifts. And I felt that it was a right thing to do to give her gifts back."(84)

G. Messages

According to Ms. Lewinsky, she sent the President a number of cards and letters. In some, she expressed anger that he was "not paying enough attention to me"; in others, she said she missed him; in still others, she just sent "a funny card that I saw."(85) In early January 1998, she sent him, along with an antique book about American presidents, "[a]n embarrassing mushy note."(86) She testified that the President never sent her any cards or notes other than formal thank-you letters.(87)

Testifying before the grand jury, the President acknowledged having received cards and notes from Ms. Lewinsky that were "somewhat intimate" and "quite affectionate," even after the intimate relationship ended.(88)

H. Secrecy

1. Mutual Understanding

Both Ms. Lewinsky and the President testified that they took steps to maintain the secrecy of the relationship. According to Ms. Lewinsky, the President from the outset stressed the importance of keeping the relationship secret. In her handwritten statement to this Office, Ms. Lewinsky wrote that "the President told Ms. L to deny a relationship, if ever asked about it. He also said something to the effect of if the two people who are involved say it didn't happen -- it didn't happen."(89) According to Ms. Lewinsky, the President sometimes asked if she had told anyone about their sexual relationship or about the gifts they had exchanged; she (falsely) assured him that she had not.(90) She told him that "I would always deny it, I would always protect him," and he responded approvingly.(91) The two of them had, in her words, "a mutual understanding" that they would "keep this private, so that meant deny it and . . . take whatever appropriate steps needed to be taken."(92) When she and the President both were subpoenaed to testify in the Jones case, Ms. Lewinsky anticipated that "as we had on every other occasion and every other instance of this relationship, we would deny it."(93)

In his grand jury testimony, the President confirmed his efforts to keep their liaisons secret.(94) He said he did not want the facts of their relationship to be disclosed "in any context," and added: "I certainly didn't want this to come out, if I could help it. And I was concerned about that. I was embarrassed about it. I knew it was wrong."(95) Asked if he wanted to avoid having the facts come out through Ms. Lewinsky's testimony in Jones, he said: "Well, I did not want her to have to testify and go through that. And, of course, I didn't want her to do that, of course not."(96)

2. Cover Stories

For her visits to see the President, according to Ms. Lewinsky, "[T]here was always some sort of a cover."(97) When visiting the President while she worked at the White House, she generally planned to tell anyone who asked (including Secret Service officers and agents) that she was delivering papers to the President.(98) Ms. Lewinsky explained that this artifice may have originated when "I got there kind of saying, 'Oh, gee, here are your letters,' wink, wink, wink, and him saying, 'Okay, that's good.'"(99) To back up her stories, she generally carried a folder on these visits.(100) (In truth, according to Ms. Lewinsky, her job never required her to deliver papers to the President.(101)) On a few occasions during her White House employment, Ms. Lewinsky and the President arranged to bump into each other in the hallway; he then would invite her to accompany him to the Oval Office.(102) Later, after she left the White House and started working at the Pentagon, Ms. Lewinsky relied on Ms. Currie to arrange times when she could see the President. The cover story for those visits was that Ms. Lewinsky was coming to see Ms. Currie, not the President.(103)

While the President did not expressly instruct her to lie, according to Ms. Lewinsky, he did suggest misleading cover stories.(104) And, when she assured him that she planned to lie about the relationship, he responded approvingly. On the frequent occasions when Ms. Lewinsky promised that she would "always deny" the relationship and "always protect him," for example, the President responded, in her recollection, "'That's good,' or -- something affirmative. . . . [N]ot -- 'Don't deny it.'"(105)

Once she was named as a possible witness in the Jones case, according to Ms. Lewinsky, the President reminded her of the cover stories. After telling her that she was a potential witness, the President suggested that, if she were subpoenaed, she could file an affidavit to avoid being deposed. He also told her she could say that, when working at the White House, she had sometimes delivered letters to him, and, after leaving her White House job, she had sometimes returned to visit Ms. Currie.(106) (The President's own testimony in the Jones case mirrors the recommendations he made to Ms. Lewinsky for her testimony. In his deposition, the President testified that he saw Ms. Lewinsky "on two or three occasions" during the November 1995 government furlough, "one or two other times when she brought some documents to me," and "sometime before Christmas" when Ms. Lewinsky "came by to see Betty."(107))

In his grand jury testimony, the President acknowledged that he and Ms. Lewinsky "might have talked about what to do in a nonlegal context" to hide their relationship, and that he "might well have said" that Ms. Lewinsky should tell people that she was bringing letters to him or coming to visit Ms. Currie.(108) But he also stated that "I never asked Ms. Lewinsky to lie."(109)

3. Steps to Avoid Being Seen or Heard

After their first two sexual encounters during the November 1995 government shutdown, according to Ms. Lewinsky, her encounters with the President generally occurred on weekends, when fewer people were in the West Wing.(110) Ms. Lewinsky testified:

He had told me . . . that he was usually around on the weekends and that it was okay to come see him on the weekends. So he would call and we would arrange either to bump into each other in the hall or that I would bring papers to the office.(111)

From some of the President's comments, Ms. Lewinsky gathered that she should try to avoid being seen by several White House employees, including Nancy Hernreich, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Oval Office Operations, and Stephen Goodin, the President's personal aide.(112)

Out of concern about being seen, the sexual encounters most often occurred in the windowless hallway outside the study.(113) According to Ms. Lewinsky, the President was concerned that the two of them might be spotted through a White House window. When they were in the study together in the evenings, he sometimes turned out the light.(114) Once, when she spotted a gardener outside the study window, they left the room.(115) Ms. Lewinsky testified that, on December 28, 1997, "when I was getting my Christmas kiss" in the doorway to the study, the President was "looking out the window with his eyes wide open while he was kissing me and then I got mad because it wasn't very romantic." He responded, "Well, I was just looking to see to make sure no one was out there."(116)

Fear of discovery constrained their sexual encounters in several respects, according to Ms. Lewinsky. The President ordinarily kept the door between the private hallway and the Oval Office several inches ajar during their encounters, both so that he could hear if anyone approached and so that anyone who did approach would be less likely to suspect impropriety.(117) During their sexual encounters, Ms. Lewinsky testified, "[W]e were both aware of the volume and sometimes . . . I bit my hand -- so that I wouldn't make any noise."(118) On one occasion, according to Ms. Lewinsky, the President put his hand over her mouth during a sexual encounter to keep her quiet.(119) Concerned that they might be interrupted abruptly, according to Ms. Lewinsky, the two of them never fully undressed.(120)

While noting that "the door to the hallway was always somewhat open," the President testified that he did try to keep the intimate relationship secret: "I did what people do when they do the wrong thing. I tried to do it where nobody else was looking at it."(121)

4. Ms. Lewinsky's Notes and Letters

The President expressed concern about documents that might hint at an improper relationship between them, according to Ms. Lewinsky. He cautioned her about messages she sent:

There were . . . some occasions when I sent him cards or notes that I wrote things that he deemed too personal to put on paper just in case something ever happened, if it got lost getting there or someone else opened it. So there were several times when he remarked to me, you know, you shouldn't put that on paper.(122)

She said that the President made this point to her in their last conversation, on January 5, 1998, in reference to what she characterized as "[a]n embarrassing mushy note" she had sent him.(123) In addition, according to Ms. Lewinsky, the President expressed concerns about official records that could establish aspects of their relationship. She said that on two occasions she asked the President if she could go upstairs to the Residence with him. No, he said, because a record is kept of everyone who accompanies him there.(124)

The President testified before the grand jury: "I remember telling her she should be careful what she wrote, because a lot of it was clearly inappropriate and would be embarrassing if somebody else read it."(125)

5. Ms. Lewinsky's Evaluation of Their Secrecy Efforts

In two conversations recorded after she was subpoenaed in the Jones case, Ms. Lewinsky expressed confidence that her relationship with the President would never be discovered.(126) She believed that no records showed her and the President alone in the area of the study.(127) Regardless of the evidence, in any event, she would continue denying the relationship. "If someone looked in the study window, it's not me," she said.(128) If someone produced tapes of her telephone calls with the President, she would say they were fakes.(129)

In another recorded conversation, Ms. Lewinsky said she was especially comforted by the fact that the President, like her, would be swearing under oath that "nothing happened."(130) She said:

[T]o tell you the truth, I'm not concerned all that much anymore because I know I'm not going to get in trouble. I will not get in trouble because you know what? The story I've signed under -- under oath is what someone else is saying under oath.(131)

II. 1995: Initial Sexual Encounters

Monica Lewinsky began her White House employment as an intern in the Chief of Staff's office in July 1995. At White House functions in the following months, she made eye contact with the President. During the November 1995 government shutdown, the President invited her to his private study, where they kissed. Later that evening, they had a more intimate sexual encounter. They had another sexual encounter two days later, and a third one on New Year's Eve.

A. Overview of Monica Lewinsky's White House Employment

Monica Lewinsky worked at the White House, first as an intern and then as an employee, from July 1995 to April 1996. With the assistance of family friend Walter Kaye, a prominent contributor to political causes, she obtained an internship starting in early July, when she was 21 years old.(132) She was assigned to work on correspondence in the office of Chief of Staff Leon Panetta in the Old Executive Office Building.(133)

As her internship was winding down, Ms. Lewinsky applied for a paying job on the White House staff. She interviewed with Timothy Keating, Special Assistant to the President and Staff Director for Legislative Affairs.(134) Ms. Lewinsky accepted a position dealing with correspondence in the Office of Legislative Affairs on November 13, 1995, but did not start the job (and, thus, continued her internship) until November 26.(135) She remained a White House employee until April 1996, when -- in her view, because of her intimate relationship with the President -- she was dismissed from the White House and transferred to the Pentagon.(136)

B. First Meetings with the President

The month after her White House internship began, Ms. Lewinsky and the President began what she characterized as "intense flirting."(137) At departure ceremonies and other events, she made eye contact with him, shook hands, and introduced herself.(138) When she ran into the President in the West Wing basement and introduced herself again, according to Ms. Lewinsky, he responded that he already knew who she was.(139) Ms. Lewinsky told her aunt that the President "seemed attracted to her or interested in her or something," and told a visiting friend that "she was attracted to [President Clinton], she had a big crush on him, and I think she told me she at some point had gotten his attention, that there was some mutual eye contact and recognition, mutual acknowledgment."(140)

In the autumn of 1995, an impasse over the budget forced the federal government to shut down for one week, from Tuesday, November 14, to Monday, November 20.(141) Only essential federal employees were permitted to work during the furlough, and the White House staff of 430 shrank to about 90 people for the week. White House interns could continue working because of their unpaid status, and they took on a wide range of additional duties.(142)

During the shutdown, Ms. Lewinsky worked in Chief of Staff Panetta's West Wing office, where she answered phones and ran errands.(143) The President came to Mr. Panetta's office frequently because of the shutdown, and he sometimes talked with Ms. Lewinsky.(144) She characterized these encounters as "continued flirtation."(145) According to Ms. Lewinsky, a Senior Adviser to the Chief of Staff, Barry Toiv, remarked to her that she was getting a great deal of "face time" with the President.(146)

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