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Narrative Pt. IX: United Nations' Job Offer

From independent counsel Kenneth Starr's report to the House on President Clinton. Some of the language in these documents is sexually explicit.

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IX. October-November 1997:

United Nations' Job Offer

Having learned that she would not be able to return to the White House, Ms. Lewinsky sought the President's help in finding a job in New York City. The President offered to place her at the United Nations. After initial enthusiasm, Ms. Lewinsky cooled on the idea of working at the U.N., and she prodded the President to get her a job in the private sector.

A. October 10: Telephone Conversation

According to Ms. Lewinsky, the President telephoned her at approximately 2:00 to 2:30 a.m. on Friday, October 10.(587) They spent much of the hour-and-a-half call arguing. "[H]e got so mad at me, he must have been purple," she later recalled.(588)

   


According to Ms. Lewinsky, the President said: "If I had known what kind of person you really were, I wouldn't have gotten involved with you."(589) He reminded Ms. Lewinsky that she had earlier promised, "[i]f you just want to stop doing this, I'll

. . . be no trouble."(590) Ms. Lewinsky said she challenged the President: "[T]ell me . . . when I've caused you trouble."(591) The President responded, "I've never worried about you. I've never been worried you would do something to hurt me."(592)

When the conversation shifted to her job search, Ms. Lewinsky complained that the President had not done enough to help her. He responded that, on the contrary, he was eager to help.(593) The President said that he regretted Ms. Lewinsky's transfer to the Pentagon and assured her that he would not have permitted it had he foreseen the difficulty in returning her to the White House.(594) Ms. Lewinsky told him that she wanted a job in New York by the end of October, and the President promised to do what he could.(595)

B. October 11 Meeting

At approximately 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, October 11, according to Ms. Lewinsky, Ms. Currie called and told her that the President wished to see her.(596) Ms. Lewinsky entered the White House at 9:36 a.m. and departed at 10:54 a.m.(597) The President entered the Oval Office at 9:52 a.m.(598)

Ms. Lewinsky met with the President in the study, and they discussed her job search.(599) Ms. Lewinsky told the President that she wanted to pursue jobs in the private sector, and he told her to prepare a list of New York companies that interested her.(600) Ms. Lewinsky asked the President whether Vernon Jordan, a well-known Washington attorney who she knew was a close friend of the President and had many business contacts, might help her find a job.(601) According to Ms. Lewinsky, the President was receptive to the idea.(602)

In a recorded conversation, Ms. Lewinsky said that, at the end of the October 11 meeting, she and the President joined Ms. Currie in the Oval Office. The President grabbed Ms. Lewinsky's arm and kissed her on the forehead.(603) He told her: "I talked to Erskine [Bowles] about . . . trying to get John Hilley to give you . . . a good recommendation for your work here."(604)

Later, Ms. Lewinsky and Ms. Tripp discussed their concerns about the President's involvement in Ms. Lewinsky's job search. Specifically, Ms. Lewinsky was nervous about involving the President's Chief of Staff:

Ms. Lewinsky: Well, see, I don't really think -- I'm going to tell him that I don't think Erskine should have anything to do with this. I don't think anybody who works there should.

Ms. Tripp: I don't see how that's -- how that's a problem.

Ms. Lewinsky: Because look at what happened with Webb Hubbell.(605)

Ms. Lewinsky preferred that Vernon Jordan assist her in her job search:

Ms. Tripp: Well, I don't remember during the Webb Hubbell thing, was Vernon mentioned?

Ms. Lewinsky: Yeah, but there's a big difference. I think somebody could construe, okay? Somebody could construe or say, "Well, they gave her a job to shut her up. They made her happy. . . . And he [Mr. Bowles] works for the government and shouldn't have done that." And with the other one [Mr. Jordan] you can't say that.(606)

   


C. October 16-17: The "Wish List"

On October 16, Ms. Lewinsky sent the President a packet, which included what she called a "wish list" describing the types of jobs that interested her in New York City.(607) The note began: My dream had been to work in Communications or Strategic Planning at the White House. I am open to any suggestions that you may have on work that is similar to that or may intrigue me. The most important things to me are that I am engaged and interested in my work, I am not someone's administrative/ executive assistant, and my salary can provide me a comfortable living in NY.(608)

She identified five public relations firms where she would like to work.(609) Ms. Lewinsky concluded by saying of the United Nations:

I do not have any interest in working there. As a result of what happened in April '96, I have already spent a year and a half at an agency in which I have no interest. I want a job where I feel challenged, engaged, and interested. I don't think the UN is the right place for me.(610)

In a recorded conversation, Ms. Lewinsky said she wanted the President to take her list seriously and not ask her to settle for a U.N. job.(611) She said she hoped "that if he starts to pick a bone with me and the U.N., he sure as hell doesn't do it on the phone. . . . I don't want to start getting into a screaming match with him on the phone."(612)

In addition to the "wish list," Ms. Lewinsky said she enclosed in the packet a pair of sunglasses and "a lot of things in a little envelope," including some jokes, a card, and a postcard.(613) She said that she had written on the card: "Wasn't I right that my hugs are better in person than in cards?"(614) The postcard featured a "very erotic" Egon Schiele painting.(615) Ms. Lewinsky also enclosed a note with her thoughts on education reform.(616)

Ms. Lewinsky testified that she felt that the President owed her a job for several reasons: Her relationship with him was the reason she had been transferred out of the White House; he had promised her a job and so far had done nothing to help her find one; and she had left the White House "quietly," without making an issue of her relationship with the President.(617)

D. The President Creates Options

At some point around this time in the fall of 1997, Ms. Currie asked John Podesta, the Deputy Chief of Staff, to help Ms. Lewinsky find a job in New York.(618) Mr. Podesta testified that, during a Presidential trip to Latin America, he approached then-U.N. Ambassador William Richardson while aboard Air Force One and asked the Ambassador to consider a former White House intern for a position at the U.N.(619) At the time, Mr. Podesta could not recall the intern's name.(620) Ambassador Richardson and the President both testified that they never discussed Ms. Lewinsky with each other.(621)

Ambassador Richardson returned from Latin America on Sunday, October 19.(622) Within a few days, his Executive Assistant, Isabelle Watkins, called Mr. Podesta's secretary and asked whether "she knew anything about a resume that John was going to send us."(623) Mr. Podesta's secretary knew nothing about it and asked Mr. Podesta what to do; he instructed her to call Ms. Currie.(624) At 3:09 p.m. on October 21, Ms. Currie faxed Ms. Lewinsky's resume to the United Nations.(625)

At 7:01 p.m., a six-minute call was placed to Ms. Lewinsky's apartment from a U.N. telephone number identified in State Department records as "Ambassador Richardson's line."(626) Ms. Lewinsky testified that she spoke to Ambassador Richardson. A woman called, Ms. Lewinsky testified, and said, "[H]old for Ambassador Richardson."(627) Then the Ambassador himself came on the line: "I remember, because I was shocked and I was . . . very nervous."(628) The purpose of the call was to schedule a job interview at a Watergate apartment the following week.(629) At odds with Ms. Lewinsky, the Ambassador and Ms. Watkins both testified that Ms. Watkins, not the Ambassador, spoke with Ms. Lewinsky.(630)

A few days later, according to Ms. Lewinsky, the President called her. She had been upset because no one at the White House had prepared her for the Ambassador's recent call and because she did not want the White House to railroad her into taking the U.N. job.(631) She reiterated that she was eager to pursue other opportunities, especially in the private sector.(632) The President reassured her, promising that a U.N. position was just one of many options.(633)

Ms. Lewinsky spoke to the President again one week later. Ms. Lewinsky testified that she told Ms. Currie to ask the President to call her to assuage her nervousness before the U.N. interview.(634)

According to Ms. Lewinsky, on October 30, the night before the interview, the President did call. She characterized the conversation as a "pep talk": "[H]e was trying to kind of build my confidence and reassure me."(635) The President told her to call Ms. Currie after the interview.(636)In his Jones deposition, the President indicated that he learned of her interview with Ambassador Richardson not from Ms. Lewinsky herself but from Ms. Currie.(637)

E. The U.N. Interview and Job Offer

On Friday morning, October 31, Ambassador Richardson and two of his assistants, Mona Sutphen and Rebecca Cooper, interviewed Ms. Lewinsky at the Watergate.(638) According to Ambassador Richardson, he "listen[ed] while Mona and Rebecca were interviewing her."(639) Neither Ambassador Richardson nor any of his staff made inquiries, before or after the interview, about Ms. Lewinsky's prior work performance.(640)

On Sunday, November 2, Ms. Lewinsky drafted a letter to Ms. Currie asking what to do in the event she received an offer from the U.N.(641) She wrote:

I became a bit nervous this weekend when I realized that Amb. Richardson said his staff would be in touch with me this week. As you know, the UN is supposed to be my back-up, but because VJ [Vernon Jordan] has been out of town, this is my only option right now. What should I say to Richardson's people this week when they call?(642)

Ms. Lewinsky asked Ms. Currie to speak to the President about her problem: "If you feel it's appropriate, maybe you could ask 'the big guy' what he wants me to do. Ahhhhh . . . anxiety!!!!!"(643) Ms. Lewinsky also mentioned the President's promise to involve Vernon Jordan in her job search:

I don't think I told you that in my conversation last Thursday night with him that he said that he would ask you to set up a meeting between VJ and myself, once VJ got back. I assume he'll mention this to you at some point -- hopefully sooner rather than later!(644)

Before Ms. Lewinsky sent this letter, in her recollection, she received an offer from the U.N.(645) Phone records reflect that, at 11:02 a.m. on November 3, a three-minute call was placed to Ms. Lewinsky from the U.N. line identified in State Department records as Ambassador Richardson's.(646) Ms. Lewinsky stated that she believes she spoke to Ambassador Richardson, who extended her a job offer.(647)

According to his assistant, Ambassador Richardson made the decision to hire Ms. Lewinsky. Ms. Sutphen testified:

I said, are you sure; and he said, yeah, yeah, I'm sure, why. And I said . . . are you sure, though you don't want to talk to anyone else . . . . And he said, no, no, I think it's fine; why don't you go ahead and give her an offer?(648)

Ambassador Richardson and Ms. Sutphen both testified that Ms. Sutphen, not the Ambassador, extended the job offer to Ms. Lewinsky. They recalled that the offer was made a week or 10 days after the interview, though Ms. Sutphen, when shown the phone records, testified that the November 3 call to Ms. Lewinsky probably was the job offer.(649)

Ms. Lewinsky testified that she told Ms. Currie about the offer and she probably also told the President directly.(650) Ms. Currie first testified that she had "probably" told the President about Ms. Lewinsky's U.N. offer, then testified that she had in fact told him, then testified that she could not remember, though she acknowledged that the President was interested in Ms. Lewinsky's getting a job.(651)

When the President was asked in the Jones deposition whether he knew that Ms. Lewinsky had received the offer of a job at the U.N., he testified: "I know that she interviewed for one. I don't know if she was offered one or not."(652)

F. The U.N. Job Offer Declined

Three weeks after she received an offer, on November 24, Ms. Lewinsky called Ms. Sutphen and asked for more time to consider the offer because she wanted to pursue possibilities in the private sector.(653) Ms. Sutphen told Ambassador Richardson, who, according to Ms. Sutphen, said the delay would be fine.(654) Over a month later, on January 5, 1998, Ms. Lewinsky finally turned down the job.(655)

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