Clinton Confidant Testifies Again
Clinton Confidant Testifies Again
Mar. 12, 1998
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Presidential confidant Bruce Lindsey had a return date with the Monica Lewinsky grand jury Thursday, but came without a cadre of lawyers this time around, indicating no immediate fight over executive privilege.
Arriving in early afternoon in sunny but unseasonably cold weather in the capital, Lindsey, was accompanied only by his personal lawyer and one from the White House counsel's office in contrast to the team of attorneys he had in tow the first time around.
Emerging from the courthouse after just under three hours of testimony, Lindsey was asked what he had told the grand jury and whether any executive privilege controversies had arisen. ``You know I'm not talking about that,'' he replied.
In the revolving-door scenario that has characterized life at the U.S. Courthouse for the past several weeks, a White House steward also made an encore appearance.
Prosecutors working for independent counsel Kenneth Starr are interested in Bayani Nelvis because he works in a pantry adjacent to the Oval Office and President Clinton's private study in the West Wing.
As they try to determine whether Clinton and Ms. Lewinsky had an affair and tried to cover it up, Starr's prosecutors want to hear from anyone who might have seen them alone together. Leaving the courthouse at midday at his behind-closed-doors session with the grand jury, Nelvis declined comment.
Ms. Lewinsky has claimed on secretly recorded tapes that she had a lengthy sexual relationship with Clinton beginning in late 1995 and that he urged her to lie about it to attorneys in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case against the president.
Her lawyer, Williams Ginsburg, has gone to court to enforce what he insists was an agreement with Starr granting Ms. Lewinsky immunity from prosecution for her testimony, although the prosecutor has argued no agreement was ever made.
On the second floor of the federal courthouse, one floor below the grand jury, Chief U.S. District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson held a closed hearing on leaks to the news media in the Lewinsky matter.
Clinton's private lawyer, David Kendall, and Ginsburg, had filed motions blaming Starr's office for leaks of grand jury matters. The lawyers demanded that the disclosures be stopped. Starr has denied being the source of the leaks.
Starr, Kendall and Ginsburg were all present for Thursday's hearing. None of them had anything to say afterwards. ``No comment at all, in the courthouse or out of the courthouse,'' Ginsburg said.
Lawyers representing several news organizations, including The Associated Press, attempted to have the hearing opened to reporters and the public. Judge Johnson said it would be ``premature'' to rule because the non-media attorneys had not read the written arguments.
The judge did say, however, that she would consider requests for releasing transcripts of the hearing.
In his initial testimony earlier this month, Lindsey reportedly balked at answering some questions, leading to negotiations over executive privilege between prosecutors and attorneys for the White House. While those talks have led to no agreement on the privilege question, there is plenty of room for questioning that clearly would not be shielded.
Executive privilege is a legal theory, upheld by the courts, that allows a president to keep private the confidential advice he receives from advisers. Presidents have argued that they could not have these frank discussions if there was a danger of the conversations some day becoming public.
The White House has not formally invoked the claim, and there are numerous questions that could be asked that would not spark a legal battle _ such as whether Lindsey saw Clinton and Ms. Lewinky alone.
However, asking Lindsey about strategy on handling the Lewinsky matter could trigger a privilege claim.
It is not known just how often Clinton discussed Ms. Lewinsky with Lindsey, but the deputy White House counsel has been a friend and confidant of the president for several decades.
In another development, a former intern who served at the White House at the same time as Lewinsky has been subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury, it was reported.
WCBS-TV in New York identified her as Sherrie Kelly Densuk of Manhattan. She told the station that two investigators showed up at her door last Thursday and handed her the subpoena. Densuk said she did not know Ms. Lewinsky but admitted that she contacted her, seeking legal advice after getting the subpoena.
Also, Linda Tripp, who tape-recorded conversations she had with Lewinsky about the president, has had her assignment changed at the Pentagon, chief spokesman Kenneth Bacon said Thursday.
Tripp had told USA Today that she had been demoted. But Bacon told reporters that ``she has the same title and she has the same salary. She has different responsibilities.''
Tripp has been working at home in her $88,000-a-year ``public affairs specialist'' job since the Lewinsky controversy broke, working out an agreement with her employers for the ``flexi-place arrangements.'' Bacon said that working relationship was established in response to Tripp's concerns about ``extraordinary press coverage'' of her and any distractions that might bring about.
Bacon said Pentagon officials decided, however, that Tripp could not continue to run the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference program from her home because the assignment requires ``a certain amount of travel.'' He said officials ``assigned her different duties'' and that ``she is performing those duties.''