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 TIME on politics Congressional Quarterly CNN/AllPolitics CNN/AllPolitics - Storypage, with TIME and Congressional Quarterly
Investigating The President

B. May 24: Break-up

On Saturday, May 24, 1997, according to Ms. Lewinsky, the President ended their intimate relationship. Ms. Lewinsky was at the White House that day from 12:21 to 1:54 p.m.(472) The President was in the Oval Office during most of this period, from 11:59 a.m. to 1:47 p.m.(473) He did not have any telephone calls.(474)

According to Ms. Lewinsky, she got a call from Ms. Currie at about 11 a.m. that day, inviting her to come to the White House at about 1 p.m. Ms. Lewinsky arrived wearing a straw hat with the hat pin the President had given her, and bringing gifts for him, including a puzzle and a Banana Republic shirt. She gave him the gifts in the dining room, and they moved to the area of the study.(475)

According to Ms. Lewinsky, the President explained that they had to end their intimate relationship.(476) Earlier in his marriage, he told her, he had had hundreds of affairs; but since turning 40, he had made a concerted effort to be faithful.(477) He said he was attracted to Ms. Lewinsky, considered her a great person, and hoped they would remain friends. He pointed out that he could do a great deal for her. The situation, he stressed, was not Ms. Lewinsky's fault.(478) Ms. Lewinsky, weeping, tried to persuade the President not to end the sexual relationship, but he was unyielding, then and subsequently.(479) Although she and the President kissed and hugged thereafter, according to Ms. Lewinsky, the sexual relationship was over.(480)

Three days after this meeting, on May 27, 1997, the Supreme Court unanimously rejected President Clinton's claim that the Constitution immunized him from civil lawsuits. The Court ordered the sexual harassment case Jones v. Clinton to proceed.(481)

VIII. June-October 1997: Continuing Meetings and Calls

Ms. Lewinsky tried to return to the White House staff and to revive her sexual relationship with the President, but she failed at both.

A. Continuing Job Efforts

Although Ms. Lewinsky was not offered another White House job, some testimony indicates that the President tried to get her one.

According to Betty Currie, the President instructed her and Marsha Scott to help Ms. Lewinsky find a White House job.(482) Ms. Currie testified that she resisted the request, because her opinion of Ms. Lewinsky had shifted over time. At first, she testified, she considered Ms. Lewinsky "a friend" who "had been wronged" and had been "maligned improperly."(483) But "[l]ater on, I considered her as a pain in the neck, more or less."(484) The change of heart resulted in part from Ms. Currie's many phone calls in 1997 from Ms. Lewinsky, who was often distraught and sometimes in tears over her inability to get in touch with the President.(485) Deeming her "a little bit pushy," Ms. Currie argued against bringing Ms. Lewinsky back to work at the White House, but the President told her and Ms. Scott, in Ms. Currie's words, "to still pursue her coming back."(486) Indeed, according to Ms. Currie, the President "was pushing us hard" on the matter.(487) To the best of Ms. Currie's recollection, it was the only time the President instructed her to try to get someone a White House job.(488)

According to Ms. Lewinsky, the President told her to talk with Ms. Scott about a White House job in spring 1997.(489) On June 16, she met with Ms. Scott.(490) The meeting did not go as Ms. Lewinsky anticipated. She later recounted in an email message:

There is most certainly a disconnect on what [the President] said he told her and how she acted. She didn't even know what my title or my job was . . . . She didn't have any job openings to offer. Instead, she made me go over what happened when I had to leave (who told me), and then proceeded to confirm the Evelyn [Lieberman] story about my "inappropriate behavior." Then she asked me: with such nasty women there and people gossiping about me, why did I want to come back? I was so upset. I really did not feel it was her place to question me about that. Later on, I said something about being told I could come back after November and she wanted to know who told me that! So I have placed a call to him but I don't know what is going to happen.

Ms. Lewinsky added that she was inclined "to walk away from it all," but acknowledged that "I'm always saying this and then I change my mind."(491)

Though she characterized her recollection as "all jumbled," Ms. Scott corroborated much of Ms. Lewinsky's account.(492) Ms. Scott said that at some point she did ask Ms. Lewinsky why she wanted to return to the White House.(493) Ms. Scott also said that she was unaware of Ms. Lewinsky's job title before their meeting.(494)

Over the next three weeks, Ms. Lewinsky tried repeatedly, without success, to talk with the President about her job quest. In a draft of a letter to Ms. Currie, she wrote that the President "said to me that he had told [Ms. Scott] I had gotten a bum deal, and I should get a good job in the West Wing," but Ms. Scott did not seem eager to arrange for Ms. Lewinsky's return. Ms. Lewinsky wrote:

I was surprised that she would question his judgment and not just do what he asked of her. Is it possible that, in fact, he did not tell her that? Does he really not want me back in the complex? He has not responded to my note, nor has he called me. Do you know what is going on? If so, are you able to share it with me?(495)

Ms. Currie testified to "a vague recollection" of having seen this letter.(496)

On June 29, 1997, Ms. Lewinsky wrote several notes. In a draft letter to Ms. Scott, Ms. Lewinsky wrote that "our last conversation was very upsetting to me," and added:

Marsha, I was told that I could come back after the election. I knew why I had to leave last year by mid-April, and I have been beyond patient since then. I do not think it is fair to . . . be told by the person whom I was told would get me a job that there is nothing for me and she doesn't really hear about positions [in] the complex anyway. I know that in your eyes I am just a hindrance -- a woman who doesn't have a certain someone's best interests at heart, but please trust me when I say I do.(497)

Ms. Lewinsky also drafted a note to the President pleading for a brief meeting the following Tuesday. Referring to her inability to get in touch with him, she wrote: "Please do not do this to me. I feel disposable, used and insignificant. I understand your hands are tied, but I want to talk to you and look at some options."(498) Around this time, Ms. Lewinsky told a friend that she was considering moving to another city or country.(499)

B. July 3 Letter

"[V]ery frustrated" over her inability to get in touch with the President to discuss her job situation, Ms. Lewinsky wrote him a peevish letter on July 3, 1997.(500) Opening "Dear Sir," the letter took the President to task for breaking his promise to get her another White House job.(501) Ms. Lewinsky also obliquely threatened to disclose their relationship. If she was not going to return to work at the White House, she wrote, then she would "need to explain to my parents exactly why that wasn't happening." Some explanation was necessary because she had told her parents that she would be brought back after the election.(502) (Ms. Lewinsky testified that she would not actually have told her father about the relationship -- she had already told her mother -- but she wanted to remind the President that she had "left the White House like a good girl in April of '96," whereas other people might have threatened disclosure in order to retain the job.(503))

Ms. Lewinsky also raised the possibility of a job outside Washington. If returning to the White House was impossible, she asked in this letter, could he get her a job at the United Nations in New York?(504) It was the first time that she had told the President that she was considering moving.(505)

Although not questioned about this particular letter, the President testified that he believed Ms. Lewinsky might disclose their intimate relationship once he stopped it. He testified:

After I terminated the improper contact with her, she wanted to come in more than she did. She got angry when she didn't get in sometimes. I knew that that might make her more likely to speak, and I still did it because I had to limit the contact.(506)

After receiving the July 3 letter, though, the President agreed to see Ms. Lewinsky. In her account, Ms. Currie called that afternoon and told her to come to the White House at 9 a.m. the next day.(507)

C. July 4 Meeting

On Friday, July 4, 1997, Ms. Lewinsky had what she characterized as a "very emotional" visit with the President.(508) Records show that Ms. Lewinsky entered the White House at 8:51 a.m.; no exit time is recorded.(509) Logs indicate that the President was in the Oval Office from 8:40 until after 11 a.m.(510)

In Ms. Lewinsky's recollection, their meeting began contentiously, with the President scolding her: "[I]t's illegal to threaten the President of the United States."(511) He then told her that he had not read her July 3 letter beyond the "Dear Sir" line; he surmised that it was threatening because Ms. Currie looked upset when she brought it to him. (Ms. Lewinsky suspected that he actually had read the whole thing.)(512) Ms. Lewinsky complained about his failure to get her a White House job after her long wait. Although the President claimed he wanted to be her friend, she said, he was not acting like it. Ms. Lewinsky began weeping, and the President hugged her. While they hugged, she spotted a gardener outside the study window, and they moved into the hallway by the bathroom.(513)

There, the President was "the most affectionate with me he'd ever been," Ms. Lewinsky testified. He stroked her arm, toyed with her hair, kissed her on the neck, praised her intellect and beauty.(514) In Ms. Lewinsky's recollection:

[H]e remarked . . . that he wished he had more time for me. And so I said, well, maybe you will have more time in three years. And I was . . . thinking just when he wasn't President, he was going to have more time on his hands. And he said, well, I don't know, I might be alone in three years. And then I said something about . . . us sort of being together. I think I kind of said, oh, I think we'd be a good team, or something like that. And he . . . jokingly said, well, what are we going to do when I'm 75 and I have to pee 25 times a day? And . . . I told him that we'd deal with that. . . .(515)

Ms. Lewinsky testified that "I left that day sort of emotionally stunned," for "I just knew he was in love with me."(516)

Just before leaving, according to Ms. Lewinsky, she told the President "that I wanted to talk to him about something serious and that while I didn't want to be the one to talk about this with him, I thought it was important he know."(517) She informed him that Newsweek was working on an article about Kathleen Willey, a former White House volunteer who claimed that the President had sexually harassed her during a private meeting in the Oval Office on November 23, 1993. (Ms. Lewinsky knew of the article from Ms. Tripp, who had worked at the White House at the time of the alleged incident and had heard about the incident from Ms. Willey. Michael Isikoff of Newsweek had talked with Ms. Tripp about the episode in March 1997 and again shortly before July 4, and Ms. Tripp had subsequently related the Isikoff conversations to Ms. Lewinsky.(518)) Ms. Lewinsky told the President what she had learned from Ms. Tripp (whom she did not name), including the fact that Ms. Tripp had tried to get in touch with Deputy White House Counsel Bruce Lindsey, who had not returned her calls.(519)

Ms. Lewinsky testified about why she conveyed this information to the President: "I was concerned that the President had no idea this was going on and that this woman was going to be another Paula Jones and he didn't really need that."(520) She understood that Ms. Willey was looking for a job, and she thought that the President might be able to "make this go away" by finding her a job.(521)

The President responded that the harassment allegation was ludicrous, because he would never approach a small-breasted woman like Ms. Willey.(522) He further said that, during the previous week, Ms. Willey had called Nancy Hernreich to warn that a reporter was working on a story about Ms. Willey and the President; Ms. Willey wondered how she could get out of it.(523)

According to Ms. Lewinsky, the President had no telephone calls during her time with him. At 10:19 a.m., probably after her departure (her exit time is not shown on logs), he placed two calls, both potentially follow-ups to the conversation about the Newsweek article. First, he spoke with Bruce Lindsey for three minutes, then with Nancy Hernreich for 11 minutes.(524)

D. July 14-15 Discussions of Linda Tripp

On the evening of Monday, July 14, 1997, just after Ms. Lewinsky had returned from an overseas trip, the President had her come to the White House to discuss Linda Tripp and Newsweek.(525) Ms. Lewinsky entered the White House at 9:34 p.m. and exited at 11:22 p.m.(526) The President was in the Oval Office area from 9:28 to 11:25 p.m.(527)

Ms. Lewinsky testified that, at around 7:30 p.m. that evening, Ms. Currie telephoned and said that the President wanted to talk to her or see her. At about 8:30 or 9:00 p.m., Ms. Currie called again and asked Ms. Lewinsky to come to the White House.(528)

Ms. Lewinsky testified that the President met her in Ms. Currie's office, then took her into Ms. Hernreich's office.(529) (Records show that seven minutes after Ms. Lewinsky's entry to the White House complex, the President left the Oval Office for the appointment secretary's office.)(530) According to Ms. Lewinsky:

It was an unusual meeting . . . . It was very distant and very cold. . . . [A]t one point he asked me if the woman that I had mentioned on July 4th was Linda Tripp. And I hesitated and then answered yes, and he talked about that there was some issue . . . to do with Kathleen Willey and that, as he called it, that there was something on the Sludge Report, that there had been some information.(531)

The President told Ms. Lewinsky that Ms. Willey had called the White House again, this time to report that Mr. Isikoff somehow knew of her earlier White House call.(532) The President wondered if Ms. Lewinsky had mentioned the Willey call to Ms. Tripp, who in turn might have told Mr. Isikoff. Ms. Lewinsky acknowledged that she had done so. Ms. Lewinsky testified: "[H]e was concerned about Linda, and I reassured him. He asked me if I trusted her, and I said yes."(533) The President asked Ms. Lewinsky to try to persuade Ms. Tripp to call Mr. Lindsey.(534) The President, according to Ms. Lewinsky, also asked if she had confided anything about their relationship to Ms. Tripp. Ms. Lewinsky said (falsely) that she had not.(535)

The President left to participate in a conference call, which Ms. Lewinsky understood was with his attorneys, while Ms. Lewinsky sat with Ms. Currie.(536) According to White House records, at 10:03 p.m. the President participated in a 51-minute conference call with Robert Bennett, his private attorney in the Jones case, and Charles Ruff, White House Counsel. Immediately after completing that call, the President had a six-minute phone conversation with Bruce Lindsey.(537)

Afterward, the President returned and told Ms. Lewinsky, in her recollection, to notify Ms. Currie the following day, "without getting into details with her, even mentioning names with her," whether Ms. Lewinsky had "'mission-accomplished' . . . with Linda."(538)

The next day, according to Ms. Lewinsky, she did talk with Ms. Tripp, then called Ms. Currie and said she needed to talk with the President. He called her that evening. She told him "that I had tried to talk to Linda and that she didn't seem very receptive to trying to get in touch with Bruce Lindsey again, but that I would continue to try."(539) The President was in a sour mood, according to Ms. Lewinsky, and their conversation was brief.(540)

E. July 16 Meeting with Marsha Scott

On July 16, 1997, Ms. Lewinsky met again with Ms. Scott about returning to the White House.(541) Ms. Scott said she would try to detail Ms. Lewinsky from the Pentagon to Ms. Scott's office on a temporary basis, according to Ms. Lewinsky.(542) In that way, Ms. Scott said, Ms. Lewinsky could prove herself. Ms. Scott also said that "they had to be careful and protect [the President]."(543) Both Ms. Scott and Ms. Currie confirmed that Ms. Scott talked with Ms. Lewinsky about the possibility of being detailed to work at the White House.(544) Ms. Scott testified that she tried to arrange the detail on her own, without any direction from the President; Ms. Currie, however, testified that the President instructed her and Ms. Scott to try to get Ms. Lewinsky a job.(545)

F. July 24 Meeting

On Thursday, July 24, 1997, the day after her 24th birthday, Ms. Lewinsky visited the White House from 6:04 to 6:26 p.m., admitted by Ms. Currie.(546) The President was in the Oval Office when she arrived; he moved to the study at 6:14 p.m. and remained there until her departure.(547) He had no telephone calls during Ms. Lewinsky's visit.(548)

According to Ms. Lewinsky, she went to the White House to pick up a photograph from Ms. Currie, who said the President might be available for a quick meeting. Ms. Currie put Ms. Lewinsky in the Cabinet Room while the President finished another meeting, then took her to see him. They chatted for five to ten minutes, and the President gave Ms. Lewinsky, as a birthday present, an antique pin.(549)

G. Newsweek Article and Its Aftermath

Newsweek published the Kathleen Willey story in its August 11, 1997, edition (which appeared a week before the cover date). The article quoted Ms. Tripp as saying that Ms. Willey, after leaving the Oval Office on the day of the President's alleged advances, looked "disheveled," "flustered, happy, and joyful." The article also quoted Robert Bennett as saying that Ms. Tripp was "not to be believed."(550)

After the article appeared, Ms. Tripp wrote a letter to Newsweek charging that she had been misquoted, but the magazine did not publish it.(551) Ms. Lewinsky subsequently told the President about Ms. Tripp's letter. He replied, Ms. Lewinsky said in a recorded conversation, "Well, that's good because it sure seemed like she screwed me from that article."(552)

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