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Monica Talks to Impeachment Lawyers

January 25, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Amid the oriental carpets, polished wood and crystal of the Mayflower Hotel’s fanciest suite _ the Presidential _ Monica Lewinsky told her story once again, this time to a covey of congressmen.

With dozens of reporters and gawkers camped outside the downtown hotel’s entrances Sunday, Ms. Lewinsky kept mostly out of sight. It was reminiscent of her days hiding inside the family’s Watergate apartment as the news media lusted after details of her affair with President Clinton.

She had disappeared for months into the anonymity of her sprawling hometown, Los Angeles, only to be called back for an interview that could be pivotal to the course of Clinton’s Senate trial. One source familiar with the meeting described Ms. Lewinsky’s demeanor as calm and professional.

The three House Republicans who met with her for one hour, 45 minutes were full of praise. She was poised and intelligent, a ``very personable and impressive young woman,″ said Rep. Bill McCollum of Florida.

Afterward, one of her lawyers, Plato Chacheris, referred to her entire scandal experience as a ``long nightmare″ that he hoped would end soon.

The meeting came just over a year after Ms. Lewinsky’s first encounter with Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr’s prosecutors, who questioned late into the night in another ritzy hotel, this one in the Washington suburbs. Ms. Lewinsky has said she felt threatened, and it was months before she signed an agreement to cooperate with Starr in exchange for immunity from prosecution.

This time, the interview, also attended by some of Starr’s team, took place in the same Presidential Suite where Clinton’s mother, Virginia Kelley, stayed during his 1993 inaugural ceremonies. It boasts special security monitors, two bedrooms and three bathrooms and normally rents for $5,000 per night.

Ms. Lewinsky looked cheery during a brief appearance in the hotel lobby earlier Sunday, when she came down for breakfast with her mother, Marcia Lewis, in the hotel’s chandelier-bedecked restaurant. In her familiar pearls and a black pantsuit, she chatted and smiled. She ate two pancakes and orange juice, hotel staff said.

It was a sharp contrast from her harried arrival Saturday afternoon, when hotel security men helped her push her through a throng of reporters and cameras, her head down and face hidden beneath a black baseball cap.

On Sunday, the TV cameras were kept outside in the drizzling rain.

Consuelo Cuadros, who lives in a condo three blocks away, waited at the hotel in hopes of seeing the three House members _ McCollum, Rep. Asa Hutchinson, D-Ark., and Rep. Ed Bryant, R-Tenn. _ to tell them, ``You’re doing an excellent job. God bless you.″

Although he was willing to stand a while in the drizzle, hoping for a glimpse of Ms. Lewinsky, 17-year-old Avi Stern of Rockland County, N.Y., insisted he was unimpressed by the scandal. ``It’s overrated _ the whole thing,″ he said.

But even at a hotel accustomed to serving presidents, foreign dignitaries and movie stars, Ms. Lewinsky’s presence caused a hubbub.

The hotel staff fielded calls from people who tried all sorts of ploys in vain efforts to get through to Ms. Lewinsky. ```I’m her grandmother,′ ‘her manicurist,’ ‘her hairstylist,’ any excuse to get to her,″ concierge Hirono Castagnola said.

About a dozen faxes arrived for her, a few with off-color comments but mostly handwritten missives wishing Ms. Lewinsky well. ``‘We’re praying for you,’ ‘It will all be over soon’ _ that sort of thing,″ said concierge John Dignan.

After checking with Ms. Lewinsky, the hotel threw them all away. One telegram for her was refused. ``She really doesn’t want to see these things,″ Dignan said.

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