Deal Reached for Ex-Agent Testimony
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Justice and Treasury Departments agreed Friday night to limited grand jury questioning of a former Secret Service officer subpoenaed to tell what he knows about President Clinton’s relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
The agreement with Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr ``will ensure that protective techniques and procedures of the Secret Service are not disclosed,″ the Justice Department said in a three-paragraph statement.
The statement did not spell out exactly what restrictions were to be put on the questioning of former Secret Service uniformed officer Lewis Fox in connection with the investigation into an alleged presidential affair and coverup.
Justice spokesman Bert Brandenburg said the agreement applies only to the questioning of Fox and that negotiations would continue as needed on any other Secret Service uniformed officers or plainclothes agents that Starr seeks to question. An active-duty uniformed officer also has been subpoenaed by a grand jury investigating whether Clinton and Lewinsky had an affair and broke the law by trying to cover it up. Clinton has denied both.
``The Justice and Treasury Departments and the Office of Independent Counsel will continue to discuss these issues as they may arise,″ the statement said.
Starr’s spokeswoman, Deborah Gershman, declined comment. The grand jury prsoecutors have used in the Lewinsky investigation is scheduled to resume meeting Tuesday.
Meanwhile, The Associated Press learned that one of Ms. Lewinsky’s high school friends, Neysa A. Erbland, 24, of Sherman Oaks, Calif., was questioned for 2 1/2 hours by the grand jury on Thursday.
Prosecutors are trying to identify friends and relatives in whom Ms. Lewinsky may have confided her relationship with the president. A friend of Mrs. Erbland confirmed her appearance.
Mrs. Erbland was photographed entering the U.S. Courthouse in Washington with her father, record producer Freddy DeMann. DeMann is the president of Maverick Records, a label he started with pop singer Madonna.
Neither DeMann nor Chris Erbland, the witness’s husband who is a writer for the NBC show ``Mad About You,″ returned a reporter’s telephone call. A man who answered the door at her home in the fashionable Los Angeles suburb of Sherman Oaks declined comment.
Washington attorney Charles Roistacher confirmed his law firm represents Mrs. Erbland, but declined further comment. Roistacher and his partner, Ralph J. Caccia, accompanied Mrs. Erbland as she left the grand jury Thursday.
The joint Treasury-Justice statement said the two departments agreed not to object to limited questioning of Fox, who is retired, after Starr agreed to ensure that techniques for protecting the president and his family are not disclosed.
Fox’s lawyer says his client saw Ms. Lewinsky visit Clinton in the Oval Office in 1995 but the retired officer is not sure whether the two were alone. It is not known what investigators hope to learn from the other officer.
The notion of tightlipped Secret Service agents and officers being compelled to testify about Clinton’s private actions drew resistance from government officials concerned that the level of trust between presidents and their protectors would be jeopardized.
Treasury and Justice officials sought to limit the scope of questioning to what Secret Service members might know about those outside the first family, said officials who spoke on condition of anonymity before the agreement was announced.
Under such an arrangement, agents theoretically could be questioned about what they observed or heard from Ms. Lewinsky or others who came in contact with the first family.
But it was unclear whether Starr pressed for or obtained the right to seek more specific testimony involving Clinton’s actions or words, an area that administration officials had promised to resist.
There was no sign of an agreement to bring Ms. Lewinsky before the grand jury, although the former White House intern was back in Washington after a 10-day visit to California.
A scheduled grand jury appearance by Ms. Lewinsky this week and an earlier appointment for her to give a deposition in the Paula Jones sexual harassment lawsuit both came and went without producing any testimony.
For now, Ms. Lewinsky’s only statement to investigators is an affidavit in the Jones case in which she denied having a sexual relationship with the president. That statement is at odds with tape-recorded conversations in which she spoke of sexual relations with Clinton and of him encouraging her to cover it up.
The president has strongly denied having a sexual relationship with Ms. Lewinsky or asking her to lie about it.
Ms. Lewinsky’s affidavit was given to Mrs. Jones’ attorneys on Jan. 16. That night, Linda Tripp _ a co-worker who had secretly tape recorded conversations in which Ms. Lewinsky claimed to have had an affair with Clinton and discussed details of their relationship _ spent two hours meeting with Mrs. Jones’ attorneys, The Washington Post reported in its Saturday editions.
With the information from Tripp, Mrs. Jones attorneys were able to ask Clinton during a six-hour deposition the next day specific questions about his relationship with and gifts to Ms. Lewinski, the newspaper said.
Prosecutors this week did succeed in compelling testimony from Ms. Lewinsky’s mother, Marcia Lewis, in whom the young woman reportedly confided about her relationship with the president. Ms. Lewis was apparently shaken by two days of grilling, and a return appearance was put off until at least next week.
William Ginsburg, an attorney for Ms. Lewinsky, said the mother’s testimony was such an ordeal that ``I just hope that they have the good sense and discretion not to put her back on the witness stand″ next week.
Later in New York, where he made a brief personal visit for the weekend, Ginsburg said he hadn’t talked to Starr’s office since Wednesday.
Asked whether his client would testify before the grand jury without full immunity, Ginsburg said: ``She’s been designated as a target by Mr. Starr. I don’t know whether she is going to testify or not. Obviously, it hasn’t happened.″
Ms. Lewinsky’s attorneys also have asked the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Reponsibility to investigate if Starr’s office is responsible for alleged leaks of grand jury testimony to the news media.
The Los Angeles Daily Journal, a legal newspaper, said the request was made by lawyer Nathaniel Speights in a five-page letter to the department. ``The OIC’s carefully calculated campaign to cast her in a bad light through selective leaks ... could prevent Ms. Lewinsky from getting a fair trial,″ the letter said.
Earlier this week, Clinton’s attorney, David Kendall, asked a federal court to consider sanctions against Starr’s office over alleged leaks. Starr last week promised his own internal investigation to determine if any leaks have come from his office.
Investigators continue to reach out to additional individuals, hoping to gather information about the case. White House aide Steve Goodin, a former personal assistant to Clinton, is among the latest to be subpoenaed, an administration official said Friday, speaking on condition of anonymity.