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Narrative Pt. VI: Resumption of Sexual Encounters

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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VI. Early 1997: Resumption of Sexual Encounters

In 1997, President Clinton and Ms. Lewinsky had further private meetings, which now were arranged by Betty Currie, the President's secretary. After the taping of the President's weekly radio address on February 28, the President and Ms. Lewinsky had a sexual encounter. On March 24, they had what proved to be their final sexual encounter. Throughout this period, Ms. Lewinsky continued to press for a job at the White House, to no avail.

A. Resumption of Meetings with the President

   


1. Role of Betty Currie

a. Arranging Meetings

In 1997, with the presidential election past, Ms. Lewinsky and the President resumed their one-on-one meetings and sexual encounters. The President's secretary, Betty Currie, acted as intermediary.

According to Ms. Currie, Ms. Lewinsky would often call her and say she wanted to see the President, sometimes to discuss a particular topic.(378) Ms. Currie would ask President Clinton, and, if he agreed, arrange the meeting.(379) Ms. Currie also said it was "not unusual" that Ms. Lewinsky would talk by phone with the President and then call Ms. Currie to set up a meeting.(380) At times, Ms. Currie placed calls to Ms. Lewinsky for President Clinton and put him on the line.(381)

The meetings between the President and Ms. Lewinsky often occurred on weekends.(382) When Ms. Lewinsky would arrive at the White House, Ms. Currie generally would be the one to authorize her entry and take her to the West Wing.(383) Ms. Currie acknowledged that she sometimes would come to the White House for the sole purpose of having Ms. Lewinsky admitted and bringing her to see the President.(384) According to Ms. Currie, Ms. Lewinsky and the President were alone together in the Oval Office or the study for 15 to 20 minutes on multiple occasions.(385)

Secret Service officers and agents took note of Ms. Currie's role. Officer Steven Pape once observed Ms. Currie come to the White House for the duration of Ms. Lewinsky's visit, then leave.(386) When calling to alert the officer at the West Wing lobby that Ms. Lewinsky was en route, Ms. Currie would sometimes say, "[Y]ou know who it is."(387) On one occasion, Ms. Currie instructed Officer Brent Chinery to hold Ms. Lewinsky at the lobby for a few minutes because she needed to move the President to the study.(388) On another occasion, Ms. Currie told Officer Chinery to have Ms. Lewinsky held at the gate for 30 to 40 minutes because the President already had a visitor.(389)

Ms. Lewinsky testified that she once asked the President why Ms. Currie had to clear her in, and why he could not do so himself. "[H]e said because if someone comes to see him, there's a list circulated among the staff members and then everyone would be questioning why I was there to see him."(390)

b. Intermediary for Gifts

Ms. Lewinsky also sent over a number of packages -- six or eight, Ms. Currie estimated.(391) According to Ms. Currie, Ms. Lewinsky would call and say she was sending something for the President.(392) The package would arrive addressed to Ms. Currie.(393) Courier receipts show that Ms. Lewinsky sent seven packages to the White House between October 7 and December 8, 1997.(394) Evidence indicates that Ms. Lewinsky on occasion also dropped parcels off with Ms. Currie or had a family member do so,(395) and brought gifts to the President when visiting him.(396) Ms. Currie testified that most packages from Ms. Lewinsky were intended for the President.(397)

Although Ms. Currie generally opened letters and parcels to the President, she did not open these packages from Ms. Lewinsky.(398) She testified that "I made the determination not to open" such letters and packages because "I felt [they were] probably personal."(399) Instead, she would leave the package in the President's box, and "[h]e would pick it up."(400) To the best of her knowledge, such parcels always reached the President.(401)

c. Secrecy

Ms. Currie testified that she suspected impropriety in the President's relationship with Ms. Lewinsky.(402) She told the grand jury that she "had concern." In her words: "[H]e was spending a lot of time with a 24-year-old young lady. I know he has said that young people keep him involved in what's happening in the world, so I knew that was one reason, but there was a concern of mine that she was spending more time than most."(403) Ms. Currie understood that "the majority" of the President's meetings with Ms. Lewinsky were "more personal in nature as opposed to business."(404)

Ms. Currie also testified that she tried to avoid learning details of the relationship between the President and Ms. Lewinsky. On one occasion, Ms. Lewinsky said of herself and the President, "As long as no one saw us -- and no one did -- then nothing happened." Ms. Currie responded: "Don't want to hear it. Don't say any more. I don't want to hear any more."(405)

Ms. Currie helped keep the relationship secret. When the President wanted to talk with Ms. Lewinsky, Ms. Currie would dial the call herself rather than go through White House operators, who keep logs of presidential calls made through the switchboard.(406) When Ms. Lewinsky phoned and Ms. Currie put the President on the line, she did not log the call, though the standard procedure was to note all calls, personal and professional.(407) According to Secret Service uniformed officers, Ms. Currie sometimes tried to persuade them to admit Ms. Lewinsky to the White House compound without making a record of it.(408)

In addition, Ms. Currie avoided writing down or retaining most messages from Ms. Lewinsky to the President. In response to a grand jury subpoena, the White House turned over only one note to the President concerning Ms. Lewinsky -- whereas evidence indicates that Ms. Lewinsky used Ms. Currie to convey requests and messages to the President on many occasions.(409)

When bringing Ms. Lewinsky in from the White House gate, Ms. Currie said she sometimes chose a path that would reduce the likelihood of being seen by two White House employees who disapproved of Ms. Lewinsky: Stephen Goodin and Nancy Hernreich.(410) Ms. Currie testified that she once brought Ms. Lewinsky directly to the study, "sneaking her back" via a roundabout path to avoid running into Mr. Goodin.(411) When Ms. Lewinsky visited the White House on weekends and at night, being spotted was not a problem -- in Ms. Currie's words, "there would be no need to sneak" -- so Ms. Lewinsky would await the President in Ms. Currie's office.(412)

According to Ms. Lewinsky, she once expressed concern about records showing the President's calls to her, and Ms. Currie told her not to worry.(413) Ms. Lewinsky also suspected that Ms. Currie was not logging in all of her gifts to the President.(414) In Ms. Lewinsky's evaluation, many White House staff members tried to regulate the President's behavior, but Ms. Currie generally did as he wished.(415)

2. Observations by Secret Service Officers

Officers of the Secret Service Uniformed Division noted Ms. Lewinsky's 1997 visits to the White House. From radio traffic about the President's movements, several officers observed that the President often would head for the Oval Office within minutes of Ms. Lewinsky's entry to the complex, especially on weekends, and some noted that he would return to the Residence a short time after her departure.(416) "It was just like clockwork," according to one officer.(417) Concerned about the President's reputation, another officer suggested putting Ms. Lewinsky on a list of people who were not to be admitted to the White House. A commander responded that it was none of their business whom the President chose to see, and, in any event, nobody would ever find out about Ms. Lewinsky.(418)

   


B. Valentine's Day Advertisement

On February 14, 1997, the Washington Post published a Valentine's Day "Love Note" that Ms. Lewinsky had placed. The ad said:

HANDSOME

With love's light wings did

I o'er perch these walls

For stony limits cannot hold love out,

And what love can do that dares love attempt.

-- Romeo and Juliet 2:2

Happy Valentine's Day.

M(419)

C. February 24 Message

On February 24, Ms. Lewinsky visited the White House on Pentagon business.(420) She went by Ms. Currie's office.(421) Ms. Currie sent a note to the President -- the only such note turned over by the White House in response to a grand jury subpoena: "Monica Lewinsky stopped by. Do you want me to call her?"(422)

D. February 28 Sexual Encounter

According to Ms. Lewinsky, she and the President had a sexual encounter on Thursday, February 28 -- their first in nearly 11 months. White House records show that Ms. Lewinsky attended the taping of the President's weekly radio address on February 28.(423) She was at the White House from 5:48 to 7:07 p.m.(424) The President was in the Roosevelt Room (where the radio address was taped) from 6:29 to 6:36 p.m., then moved to the Oval Office, where he remained until 7:24 p.m.(425) He had no telephone calls while Ms. Lewinsky was in the White House.(426)

Wearing a navy blue dress from the Gap, Ms. Lewinsky attended the radio address at the President's invitation (relayed by Ms. Currie), then had her photo taken with the President.(427) Ms. Lewinsky had not been alone with the President since she had worked at the White House, and, she testified, "I was really nervous."(428) President Clinton told her to see Ms. Currie after the photo was taken because he wanted to give her something.(429) "So I waited a little while for him and then Betty and the President and I went into the back office," Ms. Lewinsky testified.(430) (She later learned that the reason Ms. Currie accompanied them was that Stephen Goodin did not want the President to be alone with Ms. Lewinsky, a view that Mr. Goodin expressed to the President and Ms. Currie.(431)) Once they had passed from the Oval Office toward the private study, Ms. Currie said, "I'll be right back," and walked on to the back pantry or the dining room, where, according to Ms. Currie, she waited for 15 to 20 minutes while the President and Ms. Lewinsky were in the study.(432) Ms. Currie (who said she acted on her own initiative) testified that she accompanied the President and Ms. Lewinsky out of the Oval Office because "I didn't want any perceptions, him being alone with someone."(433)

In the study, according to Ms. Lewinsky, the President "started to say something to me and I was pestering him to kiss me, because . . . it had been a long time since we had been alone."(434) The President told her to wait a moment, as he had presents for her.(435) As belated Christmas gifts, he gave her a hat pin and a special edition of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass.(436)

Ms. Lewinsky described the Whitman book as "the most sentimental gift he had given me . . . it's beautiful and it meant a lot to me."(437) During this visit, according to Ms. Lewinsky, the President said he had seen her Valentine's Day message in the Washington Post, and he talked about his fondness for "Romeo and Juliet."(438)

Ms. Lewinsky testified that after the President gave her the gifts, they had a sexual encounter:

[W]e went back over by the bathroom in the hallway, and we kissed. We were kissing and he unbuttoned my dress and fondled my breasts with my bra on, and then took them out of my bra and was kissing them and touching them with his hands and with his mouth.

And then I think I was touching him in his genital area through his pants, and I think I unbuttoned his shirt and was kissing his chest. And then . . . I wanted to perform oral sex on him . . . and so I did. And then . . . I think he heard something, or he heard someone in the office. So, we moved into the bathroom.

And I continued to perform oral sex and then he pushed me away, kind of as he always did before he came, and then I stood up and I said . . . I care about you so much; . . . I don't understand why you won't let me . . . make you come; it's important to me; I mean, it just doesn't feel complete, it doesn't seem right.(439)

Ms. Lewinsky testified that she and the President hugged, and "he said he didn't want to get addicted to me, and he didn't want me to get addicted to him." They looked at each other for a moment.(440) Then, saying that "I don't want to disappoint you," the President consented.(441) For the first time, she performed oral sex through completion.(442)

When Ms. Lewinsky next took the navy blue Gap dress from her closet to wear it, she noticed stains near one hip and on the chest.(443) FBI Laboratory tests revealed that the stains are the President's semen.(444)

In his grand jury testimony, the President -- who, because the OIC had asked him for a blood sample (and had represented that it had ample evidentiary justification for making such a request), had reason to suspect that Ms. Lewinsky's dress might bear traces of his semen -- indicated that he and Ms. Lewinsky had had sexual contact on the day of the radio address. He testified:

I was sick after it was over and I, I was pleased at that time that it had been nearly a year since any inappropriate contact had occurred with Ms. Lewinsky. I promised myself it wasn't going to happen again. The facts are complicated about what did happen and how it happened. But, nonetheless, I'm responsible for it.(445)

Later the President added, referring to the evening of the radio address: "I do believe that I was alone with her from 15 to 20 minutes. I do believe that things happened then which were inappropriate."(446) He said of the intimate relationship with Ms. Lewinsky: "I never should have started it, and I certainly shouldn't have started it back after I resolved not to in 1996."(447)

E. March 29 Sexual Encounter

According to Ms. Lewinsky, she had what proved to be her final sexual encounter with the President on Saturday, March 29, 1997. Records show that she was at the White House from 2:03 to 3:16 p.m., admitted by Ms. Currie.(448) The President was in the Oval Office during this period (he left shortly after Ms. Lewinsky did, at 3:24 p.m.), and he did not have any phone calls during her White House visit.(449)

According to Ms. Lewinsky, Ms. Currie arranged the meeting after the President said by telephone that he had something important to tell her. At the White House, Ms. Currie took her to the study to await the President. He came in on crutches, the result of a knee injury in Florida two weeks earlier.(450)

According to Ms. Lewinsky, their sexual encounter began with a sudden kiss: "[T]his was another one of those occasions when I was babbling on about something, and he just kissed me, kind of to shut me up, I think."(451) The President unbuttoned her blouse and touched her breasts without removing her bra.(452) "[H]e went to go put his hand down my pants, and then I unzipped them because it was easier. And I didn't have any panties on. And so he manually stimulated me."(453) According to Ms. Lewinsky, "I wanted him to touch my genitals with his genitals," and he did so, lightly and without penetration.(454) Then Ms. Lewinsky performed oral sex on him, again until he ejaculated.(455)

According to Ms. Lewinsky, she and the President had a lengthy conversation that day. He told her that he suspected that a foreign embassy (he did not specify which one) was tapping his telephones, and he proposed cover stories. If ever questioned, she should say that the two of them were just friends. If anyone ever asked about their phone sex, she should say that they knew their calls were being monitored all along, and the phone sex was just a put-on.(456)

In his grand jury testimony, the President implicitly denied this encounter. He acknowledged "inappropriate intimate contact" with Ms. Lewinsky "on certain occasions in early 1996 and once in early 1997."(457) The President indicated that "the one occasion in 1997" was the radio address.(458)

F. Continuing Job Efforts

With the 1996 election past, meanwhile, Ms. Lewinsky had continued striving to get a job at the White House. She testified that she first broached the issue in a telephone call with the President in January 1997, and he said he would speak to Bob Nash, Director of Presidential Personnel.(459) She understood that Mr. Nash was supposed to "find a position for me to come back to the White House."(460)

Over the months that followed, Ms. Lewinsky repeatedly asked the President to get her a White House job. In her recollection, the President replied that various staff members were working on it, including Mr. Nash and Marsha Scott, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Director for Presidential Personnel.(461) According to Ms. Lewinsky, the President told her:

"Bob Nash is handling it," "Marsha's going to handle it" and "We just sort of need to be careful." You know, and . . . he would always sort of . . . validate what I was feeling by telling me something that I don't necessarily know is true. "Oh, I'll talk to her," "I'll -- you know, I'll see blah, blah, blah," and it was just "I'll do," "I'll do," "I'll do." And didn't, didn't, didn't.(462)

Ms. Lewinsky came to wonder if she was being "strung along."(463)

Testifying before the grand jury, the President acknowledged that Ms. Lewinsky had complained to him about her job situation:

You know, she tried for months and months to get a job back in the White House, not so much in the West Wing but somewhere in the White House complex, including the Old Executive Office Building. . . . She very much wanted to come back. And she interviewed for some jobs but never got one. She was, from time to time, upset about it.(464)

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