Sources: Lewinsky Won't Say Clinton Told Her To Lie
Clinton denies 'legal charges' as Podesta testifies before grand jury
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Feb. 5) -- Former White House intern Monica Lewinsky, even if granted immunity, is not prepared to testify that either President Bill Clinton or his friend Vernon Jordan ever told her flatly to lie under oath about her alleged affair with the president, CNN has learned.
Sources say Lewinsky is prepared to say the president and Jordan urged her to be "evasive," which legal experts say may not meet the test for encouraging perjury and obstructing justice.
The sources say Lewinsky's offer is not good enough for Starr, because, on secretly-recorded conversations with onetime friend Linda Tripp, Lewinsky is heard alleging Clinton and Jordan told her to lie.
This was described as the main reason Starr backed away Wednesday from an immunity agreement reached with Lewinsky's lawyer Monday night.
These same sources, close to the investigation, say Lewinsky is prepared to say she had oral sex with Clinton, though not intercourse.
Clinton has vehemently denied having sexual relations with Lewinsky, or telling anyone to lie.
During an Oval Office appearance Thursday with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Clinton three times refused to say what kind of relationship he had with Lewinsky.
"I have already denied the legal charges, strongly, and I do so again," Clinton said. "But there is an ongoing investigation. Under those circumstances, the right thing for me to do is to go back and do the job the American people hired me to do, and that's what I am doing."
Sources say Starr's staff is now asking that Lewinsky submit to a formal interview before any immunity is granted, though he will not discuss particulars.
In Little Rock, Ark., Starr brushed aside questions Thursday about the status of immunity talks with Lewinsky, but said his investigation into the sex-and-perjury allegations involving Clinton is making progress.
Starr, in Arkansas for a pre-trial hearing in former Gov. Jim Guy Tucker's second trial, said the investigation into the Lewinsky matter is "moving very quickly and we've made very significant progress."
"We are going by the book," Starr said when asked about the immunity discussions with Lewinsky. "We want the truth. We want all the truth. We want it completely, accurately and we will satisfy ourselves that we're getting the truth."
Starr's office is looking into allegations that Clinton had a sexual relationship with Lewinsky, and then urged her to lie about it under oath.
Starr noted that Attorney General Janet Reno gave his office jurisdiction over "very serious allegations" involving the president.
"Those allegations are possible obstruction of justice, intimidation of witnesses and subornation of perjury," Starr said. "That
is an extraordinary set of circumstances. We're investigating those
as promptly, as quickly as we can."
Starr also declined to comment on a report in Thursday's Washington Post that he has given Lewinsky's lawyers until the end of the week to make the former intern available for questioning, or let her face possible prosecution.
In his photo ops with Blair, Clinton was asked about whether his aides might assert executive privilege to limit their grand jury testimony, called that "a hypothetical question."
"First let me make it clear that for four years we have been
cooperating -- exhaustively," Clinton said. "And that's a hypothetical question as far as I know. Should it arise, I will await a recommendation from the White House counsel about the institutional responsibilities of the presidency, and then when I get it I will make a decision."
Executive privilege is a president's right to withhold specific information, usually deliberations with top aides, from Congress or the courts.
In Little Rock, Starr said the purpose for invoking executive privilege would be to prevent the grand jury from "getting specific information," and he would have to assess his options if the White House goes that route.
Meanwhile, Lewinsky's attorney, William Ginsburg, says he was not surprised that Starr rejected a written statement seeking her immunity from prosecution.
Ginsburg told CNN late Wednesday that he had not spoken to Starr and does not anticipate talking to him anytime soon. "Frankly, I don't want to really deal with him anymore," Ginsburg said.
Ginsburg said he was busy preparing a defense for Lewinsky and he
was "hell-bent on telling the truth."
Ginsburg said he was not going to be "intimidated by a man with a mission," saying he had a young woman to defend. He is convinced he will have to defend his client, saying, "That is what I am going to do ... no more games."
"If Judge Starr's object of this whole investigation is to net
Monica Lewinsky in a conviction and jail time, then we have to look
at how our tax dollars are being spent," Ginsburg told reporters.
When asked about the future, Ginsburg said, "The presidency will be
preserved, the American public will have restored confidence in the system, the Congress will have reviewed the office of the Independent Counsel in terms of the legislation that enabled it, and once again we will have some restoration of confidence in government.
"In terms of my client, my client hopefully will be
old news, and she will have a job somewhere and building a career," Ginsburg added. "I will be back to the normal practice of country law and no longer in the Beltway. With any luck at all, my next tour will be of New York, not of Washington."
Ginsburg said he expects to return to Washington sometime next week, probably Tuesday or Wednesday.
Word broke Wednesday that Starr had rejected the
written statement by Lewinsky's lawyers.
Sources familiar with the investigation told CNN that lawyers for Starr and Lewinsky had actually signed an immunity agreement Monday evening, an agreement that Starr has now backed away from.
The sources say Starr's lawyers want to re-open talks, even though Lewinsky and her attorneys, Ginsburg and Nathaniel Speights, signed the agreement on Starr's Office of Independent Counsel stationery.
A well-placed source familiar with the investigation says that Lewinsky's attorneys gave Starr's office a written proffer, or statement, outlining what she would be prepared to say if granted immunity.
But prosecutors apparently concluded that Lewinsky's statement of what she knew was not clear enough. The Washington Post reported today that its source said Lewinsky acknowledged having a sexual relationship with Clinton in the statement, but gave a muddled account of whether she was urged to lie about the relationship when she spoke to lawyers in the Paula Jones case.
Jones, a former Arkansas state employee, has filed a lawsuit against Clinton, alleging that he asked her for oral sex while he was governor, and that after she rebuffed him, she suffered a hostile work environment. That case is due to go to trial in May.
Meanwhile, the Whitewater grand jury continued to hear testimony in the case. White House Deputy Chief of Staff John Podesta testified and is expected to return to answer more questions Friday.
"I did answer all of the questions put to me today," Podesta told waiting reporters afterward. "Nothing in my testimony in any way contradicted the strong denials that the president has
made to these allegations, and since I have been asked to return and answer some additional questions, I think that it's best that I not answer any questions out here and reserve that to the grand jury."
Earlier in the day, the grand jury heard from another former White House intern.
Justin Coleman, a 21-year-old former intern at the White House, testified and then told reporters he had no knowledge of a relationship -- "proper or improper" -- between Lewinsky and Clinton.
"I at no time had knowledge of any relationship -- proper or improper -- between the president and Miss Lewinsky," Coleman said. "I support President Clinton and am grateful for the opportunity to have served him and his administration. I leave now to return to Brown University."
Coleman, from Chapel Hill, N.C., said he worked in the White House from August 1997 through January 1998.
In West Palm Beach, Fla., Starr has subpoenaed videotapes of Clinton's trip to south Florida last year.
A White House source told CNN that Lewinsky was not on the March 1997
visit to golfer Greg Norman's house.
The subpoena, delivered to WPEC-TV Thursday afternoon, asked the
West Palm Beach station to "produce the video tape or video tapes depicting
President William Jefferson Clinton with Miss Monica Lewinsky on a trip
President Clinton made to Florida during which he visited Greg Norman."
It was on that trip that Clinton tore a tendon in his right knee when he lost his footing on a step at Norman's home.
The management at WPEC told CNN that it has scanned most of the tapes of its coverage of Clinton's visit to south Florida and has found no pictures of Lewinsky.
A White House source said Starr may have confused Lewinsky with a female National Security Council (NSC) staffer who was assigned to the trip.
The source said a West Palm Beach newspaper reporter has shown the White House a videotape from the Clinton visit which pictures the president and the NSC employee exiting a limousine.
A WPEC reporter told CNN that over a week ago editors did find a segment
of video showing the president and a dark-haired woman in a limousine, but, when they
checked her identity, it was determined she was an NSC employee.
WPEC management said it had not decided as of Thursday afternoon if it would hand over the tapes or challenge the subpoena in court. The subpoena gives the station until Feb. 10 to respond.
CNN's Wolf Blitzer contributed to this report.