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Lindsey: Clinton Shadow, Soulmate

February 18, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ He is Bill Clinton’s shadow, his soulmate of 30 years. Rail thin and with a perpetually worried look, Bruce Lindsey also is the keeper of presidential secrets.

He is one of the few who can slip into the Oval Office without an appointment. When the president travels, Lindsey is at his side. Countless times, they have played hearts together on Air Force One. When Clinton’s jet lands, Lindsey keeps a cell phone at his ear to take soundings from Washington and around the country.

For Clinton, Lindsey is the fellow Arkansan who speaks the same language.

His title of deputy counsel does not begin to describe his true portfolio. First and foremost, Lindsey is captain of the White House damage control brigade, covering everything from Whitewater to Monica Lewinsky. He advocates a tight-lipped strategy in investigations of Clinton’s problems. Reveal as little information as possible, either to the press or prosecutors.

``He is the ultimate in discretion,″ said presidential spokesman Mike McCurry. ``Part of what a good lawyer does is keep confidences and handle sensitive matters. And he’s done that.″

On Wednesday, Clinton’s confidant was put on the hotseat, subpoenaed before a federal grand jury to testify under oath about what he knows of the president’s alleged affair with Lewinsky, the former White House intern. He was accompanied by fellow White House counsel Cheryl Mills.

The grand jury grilling put Lindsey ``in a complicated spot but one he’ll handle superbly,″ McCurry predicted.

Lindsey has been in tight spots before with Clinton. He has made numerous trips to grand juries in investigations of Clinton’s presidency, incurring legal bills estimated to run upwards of $250,000. Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr named Lindsey an unindicted co-conspirator in the case of two Arkansas bankers accused of concealing cash withdrawals used in Clinton’s 1990 gubernatorial campaign. The publicity-shy Lindsey rushed to the White House driveway to tell reporters, ``I have done nothing wrong. There is no reason or purpose for me to resign.″

He was vindicated when the bankers were acquitted. But the cycle of crises over five years in Washington has taken a toll. Already thin, the 49-year-old Lindsey has noticeably lost weight at an age when most men thicken.

Operating as White House deputy counsel, Lindsey has been thrown into some of the administration’s toughest battles. He was Clinton’s representative in negotiations for a national tobacco deal and settlement of strikes by baseball players and at American Airlines. He also has been the administration’s point man for securities legislation, product liability and tort reform.

Lindsey and Clinton met in 1968 when they both worked for Arkansas Sen. J. William Fulbright. They have been friends ever since.

Lindsey was with Clinton when he decided not to run for president in 1987. He was at his side when Clinton went on ``The Tonight Show″ with Johnny Carson to recover from his disastrous speech at the 1988 Democratic National Convention. And when Clinton began his White House campaign in 1991, Lindsey was named director.

Though he complains about Washington, Lindsey has made no move to escape.

``He is supremely loyal to Bill Clinton,″ McCurry said.

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