ad info

CNN.com
 MAIN PAGE
 WORLD
 ASIANOW
 U.S.
 U.S. LOCAL
 ALLPOLITICS
  TIME
  analysis
  community
 WEATHER
 BUSINESS
 SPORTS
 TECHNOLOGY
 NATURE
 ENTERTAINMENT
 BOOKS
 TRAVEL
 FOOD
 HEALTH
 STYLE
 IN-DEPTH

 custom news
 Headline News brief
 daily almanac
 CNN networks
 on-air transcripts
 news quiz

 CNN WEB SITES:
CNN Websites
 TIME INC. SITES:
 MORE SERVICES:
 video on demand
 video archive
 audio on demand
 news email services
 free email accounts
 desktop headlines
 pointcast
 pagenet

 DISCUSSION:
 message boards
 chat
 feedback

 SITE GUIDES:
 help
 contents
 search

 FASTER ACCESS:
 europe
 japan

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

3. Initial Denials to the American Public

On the afternoon of January 21, the President made his first of a series of previously scheduled media appearances. In an interview on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered," the following colloquy took place:

Q: Mr. President, . . . . [m]any Americans woke up to the news today that the Whitewater independent counsel is investigating an allegation that you . . . encouraged a young woman to lie to lawyers in the Paula Jones civil suit. Is there any truth to that allegation?

WJC: No, sir, there's not. It's just not true.

Q: Is there any truth to the allegation of an affair between you and the young woman?

WJC: No. That's not true either. . . . The charges are not true. And I haven't asked anybody to lie.(1131)

That evening, the President appeared on the PBS program "The News Hour with Jim Lehrer." He was asked again whether the allegation of an affair with a White House intern was true. The President replied, "That is not true. That is not true. I did not ask anyone to tell anything other than the truth. There is no improper relationship. And I intend to cooperate with this inquiry. But that is not true." When asked to define what he meant by the term "improper relationship," the President answered, "Well, I think you know what it means. It means that there is not a sexual relationship, an improper sexual relationship, or any other kind of improper relationship."(1132)

The following morning, on January 22, 1998, the President again denied he had done anything improper. Speaking at a televised White House photo opportunity with Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, the President stated: "[T]he allegations are false, and I would never ask anybody to do anything other than tell the truth. That is false."(1133)

The President also gave an interview to Roll Call that day. He stated: "[T]he relationship was not improper, and I think that's important enough to say. . . . But let me answer -- it is not an improper relationship and I know what the word means. . . . The relationship was not sexual. And I know what you mean, and the answer is no."(1134)

At each of these interviews, the President pledged he would cooperate fully with the investigation. On NPR, the President stated: "I have told people that I would cooperate in the investigation, and I expect to cooperate with it. I don't know any more about it, really, than you do. But I will cooperate. . . . I'm doing my best to cooperate with the investigation."(1135) To Mr. Lehrer, he said: "[W]e are doing the best to cooperate here, but we don't know much yet. . . . I think it's important that we cooperate, I will cooperate, but I want to focus on the work at hand."(1136)

In his photo opportunity with Mr. Arafat, the President stated:

[T]he American people have a right to get answers. We are working very hard to comply, get all the requests for information up here. And we will give you as many answers as we can, as soon as we can, at the appropriate time, consistent with our obligation to also cooperate with the investigations. And that's not a dodge; that's really what I've -- I've talked with our people. I want to do that. I'd like for you to have more rather than less, sooner rather than later. So we will work through it as quickly as we can and get all those questions out there to you."(1137)

Finally, in his Roll Call interview, the President vowed: "I'm going to cooperate with this investigation. . . . And I'll cooperate."(1138)

4. "We Just Have To Win"

Amidst the flurry of press activity on January 21, 1998, the President's former political consultant, Dick Morris, read the Post story and called the President.(1139) According to Mr. Morris, he told the President, "You poor son of a bitch. I've just read what's going on."(1140) The President responded, Mr. Morris recalled, "Oh, God. This is just awful. . . . I didn't do what they said I did, but I did do something. I mean, with this girl, I didn't do what they said, but I did . . . do something(1141). . . . And I may have done enough so that I don't know if I can prove my innocence. . . . There may be gifts. I gave her gifts, . . . . [a]nd there may be messages on her phone answering machine."(1142)

Mr. Morris assured the President, "[t]here's a great capacity for forgiveness in this country and you should consider tapping into it."(1143) The President said, "But what about the legal thing? You know, the legal thing? You know, Starr and perjury and all. . . . You know, ever since the election, I've tried to shut myself down. I've tried to shut my body down, sexually, I mean. . . . But sometimes I slipped up and with this girl I just slipped up."(1144)

Mr. Morris suggested that he take a poll on the voters' willingness to forgive confessed adultery. The President agreed.(1145)

Mr. Morris telephoned the President later that evening with the poll results, which showed that the voters were "willing to forgive [the President] for adultery, but not for perjury or obstruction of justice[.]"(1146) When Mr. Morris explained that the poll results suggested that the President should not go public with a confession or explanation, he replied, "Well, we just have to win, then."(1147)

The President had a follow-up conversation with Mr. Morris during the evening of January 22, 1998, when Mr. Morris was considering holding a press conference to "blast Monica Lewinsky 'out of the water.'"(1148) The President told Mr. Morris to "be careful". According to Mr. Morris, the President warned him not to "be too hard on [Ms. Lewinsky] because there's some slight chance that she may not be cooperating with Starr and we don't want to alienate her by anything we're going to put out."(1149)

Meanwhile, in California, the President's good friend and Hollywood producer, Harry Thomason, had seen the President's interview with Jim Lehrer on televison.(1150) Mr. Thomason, who had occasionally advised the President on matters relating to the media, traveled to Washington, D.C., and met with him the next day.(1151) Mr. Thomason told the President that "the press seemed to be saying that [the President's comments were] weak" and that he, Mr. Thomason, "thought his response wasn't as strong as it could have been."(1152) Mr. Thomason recommended that the President "should explain it so there's no doubt in anybody's mind that nothing happened."(1153) The President agreed: "You know, you're right. I should be more forceful than that."(1154)

In the ensuing days, the President, through his Cabinet, issued a number of firm denials. On January 23, 1998, the President started a Cabinet meeting by saying the allegations were untrue.(1155) Afterward, several Cabinet members appeared outside the White House. Madeline Albright, Secretary of State, said: "I believe that the allegations are completely untrue." The others agreed. "I'll second that, definitely," Commerce Secretary William Daley said. Secretary of Education Richard Riley and Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala concurred.(1156)

The next day, Ann Lewis, White House Communications Director, publicly announced that "those of us who have wanted to go out and speak on behalf of the president" had been given the green light by the President's legal team.(1157) She reported that the President answered the allegations "directly" by denying any improper relationship. She believed that, in issuing his public denials, the President was not "splitting hairs, defining what is a sexual relationship, talking about 'is' rather than was.(1158) You know, I always thought, perhaps I was naive, since I've come to Washington, when you said a sexual relationship, everybody knew what that meant." Ms. Lewis expressly said that the term includes "oral sex."(1159)

* * *

On Monday, January 26, 1998, in remarks in the Roosevelt Room in the White House, President Clinton gave his last public statement for several months on the Lewinsky matter. At an event promoting after-school health care, the President denied the allegations in the strongest terms: "I want to say one thing to the American people. I want you to listen to me. I'm going to say this again: I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. I never told anybody to lie, not a single time. Never. These allegations are false."(1160)

1. Lewinsky 8/6/98 GJ at 31-32, 39-40; DB Photos 0004 (photo of dress).

2. FBI Lab Report, 8/3/98.

3. OIC letter to David Kendall, 7/31/98 (1st letter of day).

4. Kendall letter to OIC, 7/31/98; OIC letter to Kendall, 7/31/98 (2d letter of day); Kendall letter to OIC, 8/3/98; OIC letter to Kendall, 8/3/98.

5. FBI Observation Report (White House), 8/3/98.

6. FBI Lab Reports, 8/6/98 & 8/17/98. The FBI Laboratory performed polymerase chain reaction analysis (PCR) and restriction fragment length polymorphisim analysis (RFLP). RFLP, which requires a larger sample, is the more precise method. United States v. Hicks, 103 F.3d 837, 844-847 (9th Cir. 1996).

7. FBI Lab Report, 8/17/98, at 2.

8. Lewinsky 7/27/98 Int. During earlier negotiations with this Office, Ms. Lewinsky provided a 10-page handwritten proffer statement summarizing her dealings with the President and other matters under investigation. Lewinsky 2/1/98 Statement. Ms. Lewinsky later confirmed the accuracy of the statement in grand jury testimony. Lewinsky 8/20/98 GJ at 62-63. The negotiations in January and February 1998 (which produced the written proffer) did not result in a cooperation agreement because Ms. Lewinsky declined to submit to a face-to-face proffer interview, which the OIC deemed essential because of her perjurious Jones affidavit, her efforts to persuade Linda Tripp to commit perjury, her assertion in a recorded conversation that she had been brought up to regard lying as necessary, and her forgery of a letter while in college. In July 1998, Ms. Lewinsky agreed to submit to a face-to-face interview, and the parties were able to reach an agreement.

9. Ex. ML-7 to Lewinsky 8/6/98 GJ.

10. Lewinsky 8/26/98 Depo. at 5-6; Lewinsky 8/6/98 GJ at 27-28.

11. Lewinsky 8/26/98 Depo. at 69.

12. Lewinsky 8/6/98 GJ at 59-60, 87; Lewinsky 8/20/98 GJ at 82; Lewinsky 8/24/98 Int. at 8.

13. Ms. Tripp testified that she took notes on two occasions. Tripp 6/30/98 GJ at 141-42; Tripp 7/7/98 GJ at 153-54; Tripp 7/16/98 GJ at 112-13.

14. Kassorla 8/28/98 Int. at 2-3. Ms. Lewinsky (who voluntarily waived therapist-patient privilege) consulted Dr. Kassorla in person from 1992 to 1993 and by telephone thereafter. Id. at 1. Anticipating that the White House might fire Ms. Lewinsky in order to protect the President, Dr. Kassorla cautioned her patient that workplace romances are generally ill-advised. Id. at 2.

15. Kassorla 8/28/98 Int. at 2, 4. Ms. Lewinsky also consulted another counselor, Kathleen Estep, three times in November 1996. While diagnosing Ms. Lewinsky as suffering from depression and low self-esteem, Ms. Estep considered her self-aware, credible, insightful, introspective, relatively stable, and not delusional. Estep 8/23/98 Int. at 1-4.

16. Catherine Davis 3/17/98 GJ at 21-22.

17. Young 6/23/98 GJ at 40. See also Catherine Davis 3/17/98 GJ at 73; Erbland 2/12/98 GJ at 25 ("I never had any reason to think she would lie to me. I never knew of her to lie to me before and we talked about our boyfriends and, you know, sexual relationships throughout our friendship and I never knew her as a liar."); Finerman 3/18/98 Depo. at 113-16 (characterizing Ms. Lewinsky as trustworthy and honest); Raines 1/29/98 GJ at 87 ("I have no reason to believe that [Ms. Lewinsky's statements] were lies or made up."); Tripp 7/29/98 GJ at 187 ("There were so many reasons why I believed her. She just had way too much detail. She had detail that none of us could really conceivably have if you had not been exposed in a situation that she claimed to be."); Ungvari 3/19/98 GJ at 19 ("[s]he's never lied to me before"); id. at 21, 61-62; Young 6/23/98 GJ at 38-40.

18. Ms. Lewinsky testified that she has "always been a date-oriented person." Lewinsky 8/6/98 GJ at 28. See also Tripp 6/30/98 GJ at 141-42 (Ms. Lewinsky "had a photographic memory for the entire relationship").

19. Clinton 1/17/98 Depo. at 78, 204. The transcript of this deposition testimony appears in Document Supp. A. For reasons of privacy, the OIC has redacted the names of three women from the transcript. The OIC will provide an unredacted transcript if the House of Representatives so requests.

20. Clinton 1/17/98 Depo. at 57.

21. Clinton 1/17/98 Depo. at 54.

22. Clinton 1/17/98 Depo. at 204. Beyond his denial of a sexual relationship with Ms. Lewinsky, the President testified that he could not recall many details of their encounters. He said he could not specifically remember whether he had ever been alone with Ms. Lewinsky, or any of their in-person conversations, or any notes or messages she had sent him, or an audiocassette she had sent him, or any specific gifts he had given her. Alone together: Clinton 1/17/98 Depo. at 52-53, 56-59. Conversations: Id. at 59. Cards and letters: Id. at 62. Audiocassette: Id. at 63-64. Gifts from the President to Ms. Lewinsky: Id. at 75. When asked about their last conversation, the President referred to a December encounter when, he said, Ms. Lewinsky had been visiting his secretary and he had "stuck [his] head out" to say hello. Id. at 68. He did not mention a private meeting with Ms. Lewinsky on December 28, 1997, or a telephone conversation with her on January 5, 1998. Lewinsky 8/6/98 GJ at 27-28 & Ex. ML-7; Clinton 8/17/98 GJ at 34-36, 126-28.

Previous   Next


© 1998 Cable News Network, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.
Who we are.