Clinton Aide Lindsey at Grand Jury
Feb. 18, 1998
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Presidential confidant Bruce Lindsey appeared at a federal grand jury today, as new information surfaced about what may have led a colleague of Monica Lewinsky to turn over to prosecutors secret tapes suggesting a presidential affair and cover-up.
New York book agent Lucianne Goldberg said that a month before Linda Tripp provided her secret recording of conversations with Ms. Lewinsky to prosecutors, Tripp became concerned her tapes might be illegal and began looking for a new lawyer to seek immunity from prosecution.
Goldberg, who was advising Tripp last year, said in an interview Tuesday that it was that concern that eventually led Tripp to an attorney, and eventually, Whitewater Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr.
Tripp's attorneys at the time had convinced her that ``she had done something illegal and awful and she panicked and she wanted immunity, and she had to have a lawyer now who knew how to get her immunity on the tapes,'' Goldberg said.
Victoria Toensing, a prominent Washington attorney, confirmed Tuesday she was approached by a lawyer about Tripp's concerns in December and was asked to represent her, but did not take the case.
James Moody, Tripp's current lawyer, said his client went to Starr in January because she was being asked by Ms. Lewinsky to lie in Mrs. Jones' sexual harassment lawsuit against Clinton.
``She was to a point where there was crime going on, about to go on, and she was going to get dragged into it,'' said Moody. ``She was being asked to participate in a cover-up.''
Lindsey appeared today at the grand jury Starr is using to conduct his investigation. Among those who accompanied Lindsey was Deputy White House counsel Cheryl Mills. Lindsey, a lawyer who has been at Clinton's side since his first campaign for president, has unfettered access to the president and an office on the second floor of the White House`s West Wing.
At the White House, presidential spokesman Mike McCurry declined to say whether Lindsey would refuse to answer questions because of concerns about executive privilege. Recently, White House officials raised the prospect that Lindsey and another top official, deputy chief of staff John Podesta, might not be able to answer questions regarding their conversations with the president and his lawyers about Ms. Lewinsky because of concerns about preserving executive privilege.
A White House official said that, as of midday, Lindsey had not declined to answer any questions out of concern about executive privilege.
Meanwhile, a lawyer for Lewinsky's mother, Marcia Lewis, attended a closed court hearing in what appeared to be an attempt to postpone the continuation of her grand jury testimony. Billy Martin said that Ms. Lewis remained under subpoena but was excused from coming before the grand jury today.
Two days of grand jury testimony last week left her ``emotionally overwhelmed and distraught,'' Martin said, and her ``physical and emotional condition has not changed'' since then.
``Part of what distresses her is that she feels she`s in this situation solely because she took a moment to listen to her daughter, who asked her to talk to her as a mother,'' Martin said after the half-hour proceeding before U.S. District Judge Normal Holloway Johnson.
``Marcia Lewis has done nothing more than be a mother to her daughter,'' Martin said.
In a related matter, the Washington Post reported today the grand jury has issued a subpoena to Kathleen Willey. Ms. Willey is a former volunteer White House aide who reportedly has said in a deposition in the Jones case that Clinton groped her when she went to his office in November 1993 seeking a full-time job.
In Little Rock, Ark., on Tuesday, Clinton's attorneys asked a federal judge to dismiss Mrs. Jones' lawsuit, claiming she had made an ``unfounded case.'' Inside their 500 pages of arguments, supporting affidavits and depositions, the Clinton lawyers for the first time divulged portions of her sworn deposition in the case. Mrs. Jones claims Clinton propositioned her in a Little Rock hotel room in May 1991 while he was governor and she was working at a state development conference and that he later retaliated for rejecting his advances by causing her trouble on the job.
In her deposition, Mrs. Jones said she went to the hotel suite because she was excited to meet the governor. She said after a few minutes of small talk about work, Clinton tried to kiss her but she rebuffed him and tried to turn the discussion toward Hillary Rodham Clinton.
At that point, she said Clinton told her, ``I love the way your hair flows down your back.'' Eventually, she said, Clinton sat on a couch next to her, exposed himself and asked for oral sex. She said she jumped up from the couch, said ``I'm not that kind of girl'' and tried to leave.
``He was just red as he could be. You could tell I had embarrassed him so bad,'' she testified.
In his motion seeking dismissal of the case, Clinton attorney Robert Bennett argued that ``if the court were to permit such a veneer-thin case of sexual harassment and outrage as this to go forward against a sitting president, it would place future presidents at risk for frivolous and vexatious litigation.''
Meanwhile, Goldberg said Tripp, a former White House worker who befriended Ms. Lewinsky when they worked at the Pentagon, asked Goldberg in December to help locate a Washington lawyer who could ensure she wouldn't be prosecuted under a Maryland law forbidding secret recordings of telephone conversations.
At the time, Tripp had secretly recorded dozens of conversations with Ms. Lewinsky in which the former White House intern reportedly alleged she had an affair with Clinton and had been asked to deny it.
``She asked me to find her another lawyer. We needed one who could drop everything and help her out'' _ and work for free, Goldberg said.
Toensing, a former Republican Justice Department appointee, confirmed she received a call in December from a lawyer, whom she declined to identify, asking if she would consider representing Tripp.
Toensing said Tripp's concerns had been relayed to her but that she decided not to represent her because Toensing's husband, Washington attorney Joseph diGenova, was working for Republicans in Congress on a Clinton-related investigation involving the Teamsters.
She said she never forwarded the information she learned to anyone, including Starr.
Eventually, Tripp dropped her longtime attorney, Kirby Behre. She approached prosecutors in Starr's office on Jan. 12 and informed them about her tapes of her conversations with Lewinsky.
Tripp's immediate cooperation with prosecutors earned her a letter stating she would not be prosecuted at the federal level. But that letter does not shield her from prosecution in Maryland, where a special state prosecutor has been named to decide whether Tripp violated state law in recording the conversations with Ms. Lewinsky.