Clinton Blasts Leak in Monica Case
Mar. 05, 1998
WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Clinton denounced the leak of his sworn testimony about Monica Lewinsky on Thursday, while presidential friend Vernon Jordan denied his assistance to Clinton's former intern had any sinister motive.
Jordan, a prominent lawyer and Clinton confidant, said that while he kept the president apprised of his effort to find Ms. Lewinsky a lawyer and a job, he was not trying to influence a statement she filed in the Paula Jones case denying a sexual relationship with Clinton.
``I did not in any way tell her, encourage her, to lie. ... My efforts to find her a job were not a quid pro quo for the affidavit she signed,'' Jordan said after finishing a second day of grand jury testimony.
In a busy day at the federal courthouse, nearly overshadowed by the surfacing of Clinton's deposition, Ms. Lewinsky's lawyers also met in private with the chief judge as they tried to compel prosecutors to give her full immunity in exchange for her cooperation.
While none of Ms. Lewinsky's lawyers would comment on the purpose of the hearing before U.S. District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson, lead attorney William Ginsburg, has contended that his client has a valid deal with prosecutor Kenneth Starr for limited immunity in return for her testimony. Starr has contended there is no deal.
As he left the courthouse, the normally talkative Ginsburg said he would not comment, saying ``I follow court rules. That's not unlike me at all.''
Two individuals familiar with Clinton's deposition, given in connection with Mrs. Jones' sexual harassment suit, said he acknowledged under oath that he and Jordan discussed efforts to find a job for Ms. Lewinsky. But he denied in the deposition that he had had a sexual relationship with the former intern.
In a brief exchange with reporters at the White House, Clinton refused to discuss his answers in the sworn deposition.
``The court has made it absolutely clear it is illegal to leak and discuss it. I'm going to follow the law. That's what I wish everyone else would do,'' Clinton said.
The president's private lawyers were poised to file papers in Little Rock, Ark., with U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright, seeking an order to stop the leaks and punish those responsible.
In his deposition, Clinton testified that the job-seeking effort on behalf of the Ms. Lewinsky was initiated by his personal secretary, Betty Currie, according to the individuals, who spoke only on condition of anonymity.
Clinton also said in the deposition that he discussed with Ms. Lewinsky the likelihood she would be asked to testify in the Jones case. But Clinton described it as a quick, casual exchange in the presence of Mrs. Currie, according to The Washington Post and the individuals.
Attorneys for Mrs. Jones, the newspaper said, had given the president a written list of activities that they said constituted sexual relations when they asked him about his relationship with Ms. Lewinsky. The list included groping and oral sex, but not mouth-to-mouth kissing. Clinton denied in the deposition _ as he has publicly _ that he had a sexual relationship with Ms. Lewinsky.
At the federal courthouse here, several major figures appeared _ all for different reasons.
While Jordan was on the third floor for more questioning from Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr's prosecutors, Ginsburg was in conference on the second floor and Clinton lawyer Robert Bennett arrived to give a speech to legal interns.
Bennett wasted little time going before the throng of reporters and television camera crews to denounce the leak of details of the deposition, which first appeared in Thursday's Post.
Bennett called the leak ``one of the most reckless, reprehensible and unethical things I've seen in this town for a very, very long time. ... It's almost impossible to determine how these things get leaked, but there can be no doubt the antagonists, those who want to hurt him, and hurt him badly, have done this.''
Starr said that ``we categorically deny that we were either directly or indirectly thre source of the story.''
Lawyers for Mrs. Jones issued a statement saying they ``have released no part of defendant Clinton's deposition transcript. We welcome any inquiry from the court concerning the source of the leaks.''
A conservative group, Judicial Watch, sought the public release of Clinton's deposition, saying that leaking it ``serves the purpose of permitting President Clinton to tell his side of the story without having to go before the American people.''
``The leak is a matter this court should look into since the 'spin' in this article appears to serve the interests of President William Jefferson Clinton,'' Judicial Watch said in a motion in the Jones case.
Presidential spokesman Mike McCurry said he believed there was only one copy of the transcript at the White House and no one there leaked it.
In Fayetteville, Ark., Frank Mandanici, one of Starr's chief critics, asked a panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a lower court ruling throwing out his complaint against Starr. Mandanici, an assistant public defender in New Haven, Conn., had argued that Starr is biased against Clinton and should be dismissed.
But the independent counsel got strong words of support from four former attorneys general.
Saying they were concerned with the ``severity of the attacks'' on Starr, the four said that ``we believe any independent counsel, including Mr. Starr, should be allowed to carry out his or her duties without harassment by government officials and members of the bar.''
The letter was signed by former Atttorney General Griffin Bell, who served in the administration of President Jimmy Carter, and former Republican attorneys general Edwin Meese III, Richard Thornburgh and William Barr.