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Judge: Secret Service Can Testify

May 22, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A federal judge today ruled Secret Service agents can be compelled to testify before a grand jury in the Monica Lewinsky investigation, rejecting Clinton administration arguments they had a special privilege, a source familiar with the ruling said.

The decision is the latest in a string of legal victories for Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr who is trying to overcome several obstacles to his effort to investigate an alleged presidential affair and cover-up.

The source familiar with the ruling, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Judge Norma Hollaway Johnson granted Starr’s motion seeking to compel a small number of Secret Service employees to testify.

In so doing, the judge rejected the Clinton administration’s effort to argue a novel legal theory that Secret Service agents must have a special ``protective function privilege″ to avoid testifying before grand juries about things they observe while protecting a president.

Starr had argued that no such privilege exists in the law.

The decision leaves the administration with several choices, including an appeal or a change in legal strategy: the president could still invoke executive privilege to try to stop the agents from testifying.

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