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Narrative Pt. VIII: Continuing Meetings and Calls

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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VIII. June-October 1997: Continuing Meetings and Calls

Ms. Lewinsky tried to return to the White House staff and to revive her sexual relationship with the President, but she failed at both.

A. Continuing Job Efforts

Although Ms. Lewinsky was not offered another White House job, some testimony indicates that the President tried to get her one.

According to Betty Currie, the President instructed her and Marsha Scott to help Ms. Lewinsky find a White House job.(479) Ms. Currie testified that she resisted the request, because her opinion of Ms. Lewinsky had shifted over time. At first, she testified, she considered Ms. Lewinsky "a friend" who "had been wronged" and had been "maligned improperly."(480) But "[l]ater on, I considered her as a pain in the neck, more or less."(481) The change of heart resulted in part from Ms. Currie's many phone calls in 1997 from Ms. Lewinsky, who was often distraught and sometimes in tears over her inability to get in touch with the President.(482) Deeming her "a little bit pushy," Ms. Currie argued against bringing Ms. Lewinsky back to work at the White House, but the President told her and Ms. Scott, in Ms. Currie's words, "to still pursue her coming back."(483) Indeed, according to Ms. Currie, the President "was pushing us hard" on the matter.(484) To the best of Ms. Currie's recollection, it was the only time the President instructed her to try to get someone a White House job.(485)

   


According to Ms. Lewinsky, the President told her to talk with Ms. Scott about a White House job in spring 1997.(486) On June 16, she met with Ms. Scott.(487) The meeting did not go as Ms. Lewinsky anticipated. She later recounted in an email message:

There is most certainly a disconnect on what [the President] said he told her and how she acted. She didn't even know what my title or my job was . . . . She didn't have any job openings to offer. Instead, she made me go over what happened when I had to leave (who told me), and then proceeded to confirm the Evelyn [Lieberman] story about my "inappropriate behavior." Then she asked me: with such nasty women there and people gossiping about me, why did I want to come back? I was so upset. I really did not feel it was her place to question me about that. Later on, I said something about being told I could come back after November and she wanted to know who told me that! So I have placed a call to him but I don't know what is going to happen.

Ms. Lewinsky added that she was inclined "to walk away from it all," but acknowledged that "I'm always saying this and then I change my mind."(488)

Though she characterized her recollection as "all jumbled," Ms. Scott corroborated much of Ms. Lewinsky's account.(489) Ms. Scott said that at some point she did ask Ms. Lewinsky why she wanted to return to the White House.(490) Ms. Scott also said that she was unaware of Ms. Lewinsky's job title before their meeting.(491)

Over the next three weeks, Ms. Lewinsky tried repeatedly, without success, to talk with the President about her job quest. In a draft of a letter to Ms. Currie, she wrote that the President "said to me that he had told [Ms. Scott] I had gotten a bum deal, and I should get a good job in the West Wing," but Ms. Scott did not seem eager to arrange for Ms. Lewinsky's return. Ms. Lewinsky wrote:

I was surprised that she would question his judgment and not just do what he asked of her. Is it possible that, in fact, he did not tell her that? Does he really not want me back in the complex? He has not responded to my note, nor has he called me. Do you know what is going on? If so, are you able to share it with me?(492)

Ms. Currie testified to "a vague recollection" of having seen this letter.(493)

On June 29, 1997, Ms. Lewinsky wrote several notes. In a draft letter to Ms. Scott, Ms. Lewinsky wrote that "our last conversation was very upsetting to me," and added:

Marsha, I was told that I could come back after the election. I knew why I had to leave last year by mid-April, and I have been beyond patient since then. I do not think it is fair to . . . be told by the person whom I was told would get me a job that there is nothing for me and she doesn't really hear about positions [in] the complex anyway. I know that in your eyes I am just a hindrance -- a woman who doesn't have a certain someone's best interests at heart, but please trust me when I say I do.(494)

Ms. Lewinsky also drafted a note to the President pleading for a brief meeting the following Tuesday. Referring to her inability to get in touch with him, she wrote: "Please do not do this to me. I feel disposable, used and insignificant. I understand your hands are tied, but I want to talk to you and look at some options."(495) Around this time, Ms. Lewinsky told a friend that she was considering moving to another city or country.(496)

B. July 3 Letter

"[V]ery frustrated" over her inability to get in touch with the President to discuss her job situation, Ms. Lewinsky wrote him a peevish letter on July 3, 1997.(497) Opening "Dear Sir," the letter took the President to task for breaking his promise to get her another White House job.(498) Ms. Lewinsky also obliquely threatened to disclose their relationship. If she was not going to return to work at the White House, she wrote, then she would "need to explain to my parents exactly why that wasn't happening." Some explanation was necessary because she had told her parents that she would be brought back after the election.(499) (Ms. Lewinsky testified that she would not actually have told her father about the relationship -- she had already told her mother -- but she wanted to remind the President that she had "left the White House like a good girl in April of '96," whereas other people might have threatened disclosure in order to retain the job.(500))

Ms. Lewinsky also raised the possibility of a job outside Washington. If returning to the White House was impossible, she asked in this letter, could he get her a job at the United Nations in New York?(501) It was the first time that she had told the President that she was considering moving.(502)

Although not questioned about this particular letter, the President testified that he believed Ms. Lewinsky might disclose their intimate relationship once he stopped it. He testified:

After I terminated the improper contact with her, she wanted to come in more than she did. She got angry when she didn't get in sometimes. I knew that that might make her more likely to speak, and I still did it because I had to limit the contact.(503)

After receiving the July 3 letter, though, the President agreed to see Ms. Lewinsky. In her account, Ms. Currie called that afternoon and told her to come to the White House at 9 a.m. the next day.(504)

C. July 4 Meeting

On Friday, July 4, 1997, Ms. Lewinsky had what she characterized as a "very emotional" visit with the President.(505) Records show that Ms. Lewinsky entered the White House at 8:51 a.m.; no exit time is recorded.(506) Logs indicate that the President was in the Oval Office from 8:40 until after 11 a.m.(507)

In Ms. Lewinsky's recollection, their meeting began contentiously, with the President scolding her: "[I]t's illegal to threaten the President of the United States."(508) He then told her that he had not read her July 3 letter beyond the "Dear Sir" line; he surmised that it was threatening because Ms. Currie looked upset when she brought it to him. (Ms. Lewinsky suspected that he actually had read the whole thing.)(509) Ms. Lewinsky complained about his failure to get her a White House job after her long wait. Although the President claimed he wanted to be her friend, she said, he was not acting like it. Ms. Lewinsky began weeping, and the President hugged her. While they hugged, she spotted a gardener outside the study window, and they moved into the hallway by the bathroom.(510)

There, the President was "the most affectionate with me he'd ever been," Ms. Lewinsky testified. He stroked her arm, toyed with her hair, kissed her on the neck, praised her intellect and beauty.(511) In Ms. Lewinsky's recollection:

[H]e remarked . . . that he wished he had more time for me. And so I said, well, maybe you will have more time in three years. And I was . . . thinking just when he wasn't President, he was going to have more time on his hands. And he said, well, I don't know, I might be alone in three years. And then I said something about . . . us sort of being together. I think I kind of said, oh, I think we'd be a good team, or something like that. And he . . . jokingly said, well, what are we going to do when I'm 75 and I have to pee 25 times a day? And . . . I told him that we'd deal with that. . . .(512)

Ms. Lewinsky testified that "I left that day sort of emotionally stunned," for "I just knew he was in love with me."(513)

Just before leaving, according to Ms. Lewinsky, she told the President "that I wanted to talk to him about something serious and that while I didn't want to be the one to talk about this with him, I thought it was important he know."(514) She informed him that Newsweek was working on an article about Kathleen Willey, a former White House volunteer who claimed that the President had sexually harassed her during a private meeting in the Oval Office on November 23, 1993. (Ms. Lewinsky knew of the article from Ms. Tripp, who had worked at the White House at the time of the alleged incident and had heard about the incident from Ms. Willey. Michael Isikoff of Newsweek had talked with Ms. Tripp about the episode in March 1997 and again shortly before July 4, and Ms. Tripp had subsequently related the Isikoff conversations to Ms. Lewinsky.(515)) Ms. Lewinsky told the President what she had learned from Ms. Tripp (whom she did not name), including the fact that Ms. Tripp had tried to get in touch with Deputy White House Counsel Bruce Lindsey, who had not returned her calls.(516)

Ms. Lewinsky testified about why she conveyed this information to the President: "I was concerned that the President had no idea this was going on and that this woman was going to be another Paula Jones and he didn't really need that."(517) She understood that Ms. Willey was looking for a job, and she thought that the President might be able to "make this go away" by finding her a job.(518)

The President responded that the harassment allegation was ludicrous, because he would never approach a small-breasted woman like Ms. Willey.(519) He further said that, during the previous week, Ms. Willey had called Nancy Hernreich to warn that a reporter was working on a story about Ms. Willey and the President; Ms. Willey wondered how she could get out of it.(520)

According to Ms. Lewinsky, the President had no telephone calls during her time with him. At 10:19 a.m., probably after her departure (her exit time is not shown on logs), he placed two calls, both potentially follow-ups to the conversation about the Newsweek article. First, he spoke with Bruce Lindsey for three minutes, then with Nancy Hernreich for 11 minutes.(521)

D. July 14-15 Discussions of Linda Tripp

On the evening of Monday, July 14, 1997, just after Ms. Lewinsky had returned from an overseas trip, the President had her come to the White House to discuss Linda Tripp and Newsweek.(522) Ms. Lewinsky entered the White House at 9:34 p.m. and exited at 11:22 p.m.(523) The President was in the Oval Office area from 9:28 to 11:25 p.m.(524)

Ms. Lewinsky testified that, at around 7:30 p.m. that evening, Ms. Currie telephoned and said that the President wanted to talk to her or see her. At about 8:30 or 9:00 p.m., Ms. Currie called again and asked Ms. Lewinsky to come to the White House.(525)

Ms. Lewinsky testified that the President met her in Ms. Currie's office, then took her into Ms. Hernreich's office.(526) (Records show that seven minutes after Ms. Lewinsky's entry to the White House complex, the President left the Oval Office for the appointment secretary's office.)(527) According to Ms. Lewinsky:

   


It was an unusual meeting . . . . It was very distant and very cold. . . . [A]t one point he asked me if the woman that I had mentioned on July 4th was Linda Tripp. And I hesitated and then answered yes, and he talked about that there was some issue . . . to do with Kathleen Willey and that, as he called it, that there was something on the Sludge Report, that there had been some information.(528)

The President told Ms. Lewinsky that Ms. Willey had called the White House again, this time to report that Mr. Isikoff somehow knew of her earlier White House call.(529) The President wondered if Ms. Lewinsky had mentioned the Willey call to Ms. Tripp, who in turn might have told Mr. Isikoff. Ms. Lewinsky acknowledged that she had done so. Ms. Lewinsky testified: "[H]e was concerned about Linda, and I reassured him. He asked me if I trusted her, and I said yes."(530) The President asked Ms. Lewinsky to try to persuade Ms. Tripp to call Mr. Lindsey.(531) The President, according to Ms. Lewinsky, also asked if she had confided anything about their relationship to Ms. Tripp. Ms. Lewinsky said (falsely) that she had not.(532)

The President left to participate in a conference call, which Ms. Lewinsky understood was with his attorneys, while Ms. Lewinsky sat with Ms. Currie.(533) According to White House records, at 10:03 p.m. the President participated in a 51-minute conference call with Robert Bennett, his private attorney in the Jones case, and Charles Ruff, White House Counsel. Immediately after completing that call, the President had a six-minute phone conversation with Bruce Lindsey.(534)

Afterward, the President returned and told Ms. Lewinsky, in her recollection, to notify Ms. Currie the following day, "without getting into details with her, even mentioning names with her," whether Ms. Lewinsky had "'mission-accomplished' . . . with Linda."(535)

The next day, according to Ms. Lewinsky, she did talk with Ms. Tripp, then called Ms. Currie and said she needed to talk with the President. He called her that evening. She told him "that I had tried to talk to Linda and that she didn't seem very receptive to trying to get in touch with Bruce Lindsey again, but that I would continue to try."(536) The President was in a sour mood, according to Ms. Lewinsky, and their conversation was brief.(537)

E. July 16 Meeting with Marsha Scott

On July 16, 1997, Ms. Lewinsky met again with Ms. Scott about returning to the White House.(538) Ms. Scott said she would try to detail Ms. Lewinsky from the Pentagon to Ms. Scott's office on a temporary basis, according to Ms. Lewinsky.(539) In that way, Ms. Scott said, Ms. Lewinsky could prove herself. Ms. Scott also said that "they had to be careful and protect [the President]."(540) Both Ms. Scott and Ms. Currie confirmed that Ms. Scott talked with Ms. Lewinsky about the possibility of being detailed to work at the White House.(541) Ms. Scott testified that she tried to arrange the detail on her own, without any direction from the President; Ms. Currie, however, testified that the President instructed her and Ms. Scott to try to get Ms. Lewinsky a job.(542)

F. July 24 Meeting

On Thursday, July 24, 1997, the day after her 24th birthday, Ms. Lewinsky visited the White House from 6:04 to 6:26 p.m., admitted by Ms. Currie.(543) The President was in the Oval Office when she arrived; he moved to the study at 6:14 p.m. and remained there until her departure.(544) He had no telephone calls during Ms. Lewinsky's visit.(545)

According to Ms. Lewinsky, she went to the White House to pick up a photograph from Ms. Currie, who said the President might be available for a quick meeting. Ms. Currie put Ms. Lewinsky in the Cabinet Room while the President finished another meeting, then took her to see him. They chatted for five to ten minutes, and the President gave Ms. Lewinsky, as a birthday present, an antique pin.(546)

G. Newsweek Article and Its Aftermath

Newsweek published the Kathleen Willey story in its August 11, 1997, edition (which appeared a week before the cover date). The article quoted Ms. Tripp as saying that Ms. Willey, after leaving the Oval Office on the day of the President's alleged advances, looked "disheveled," "flustered, happy, and joyful." The article also quoted Robert Bennett as saying that Ms. Tripp was "not to be believed."(547)

After the article appeared, Ms. Tripp wrote a letter to Newsweek charging that she had been misquoted, but the magazine did not publish it.(548) Ms. Lewinsky subsequently told the President about Ms. Tripp's letter. He replied, Ms. Lewinsky said in a recorded conversation, "Well, that's good because it sure seemed like she screwed me from that article."(549)

H. August 16 Meeting

On Saturday, August 16, 1997, Ms. Lewinsky tried, unsuccessfully, to resume her sexual relationship with the President. She visited the White House on that day from 9:02 to 10:20 a.m.(550) The President moved from the Residence to the Oval Office at 9:20 a.m. and remained in the Oval Office until 10:03 a.m.(551) After a one-minute call to Betty Currie at her desk at 9:18 a.m., evidently from the Residence, the President had no calls while Ms. Lewinsky was at the White House.(552) The next day he left for a vacation on Martha's Vineyard.(553)

Ms. Lewinsky testified that she brought birthday gifts for the President (his birthday is August 19):

I had set up in his back office, I had brought an apple square and put a candle and had put his birthday presents out. And after he came back in and I sang happy birthday and he got his presents, I asked him . . . if we could share a birthday kiss in honor of our birthdays, because mine had been just a few weeks before. So, he said that that was okay and we could kind of bend the rules that day. And so . . . we kissed.(554)

Ms. Lewinsky touched the President's genitals through his pants and moved to perform oral sex, but the President rebuffed her.(555) In her recollection: "[H]e said, I'm trying not to do this and I'm trying to be good. . . . [H]e got visibly upset. And so . . . I hugged him and I told him I was sorry and not to be upset."(556) Later, in a draft note to "Handsome," Ms. Lewinsky referred to this visit: "It was awful when I saw you for your birthday in August. You were so distant that I missed you as I was holding you in my arms."(557)

I. Continuing Job Efforts

Ms. Lewinsky and Ms. Scott talked by phone on September 3, 1997, for 47 minutes.(558) According to notes that Ms. Lewinsky wrote to two friends, Ms. Scott told her that the detail slot in her office had been eliminated.(559) Ms. Lewinsky told one friend:

So for now, there isn't any place for me to be detailed. So I should be PATIENT. I told her I was very upset and disappointed (even though I really didn't want to work for her) and then she and I got into it. She didn't understand why I wanted to come back when there were still people there who would give me a hard time and that it isn't the right political climate for me to come back. . . . She asked me why I kept pushing the envelope on coming back there -- after all, I had the experience of being there already. So it's over. I don't know what I will do now but I can't wait any more and I can't go through all of this crap anymore. In some ways I hope I never hear from him again because he'll just lead me on because he doesn't have the balls to tell me the truth.(560)

Ms. Scott testified that "[t]he gist" of Ms. Lewinsky's email message describing the conversation "fits with what I remember telling her."(561)

Ms. Lewinsky expressed her escalating frustration in a note to the President that she drafted (but did not send).(562) She wrote:

I believe the time has finally come for me to throw in the towel. My conversation with Marsha left me disappointed, frustrated, sad and angry. I can't help but wonder if you knew she wouldn't be able to detail me over there when I last saw you. Maybe that would explain your coldness. The only explanation I can reason for your not bringing me back is that you just plain didn't want to enough or care about me enough.

Ms. Lewinsky went on to discuss other women rumored to be involved with the President who enjoy "golden positions," above criticism, "because they have your approval." She continued: "I just loved you -- wanted to spend time with you, kiss you, listen to you laugh -- and I wanted you to love me back." She closed: "As I said in my last letter to you I've waited long enough. You and Marsha win. I give up. You let me down, but I

shouldn't have trusted you in the first place.(563)

Ms. Lewinsky continued trying to discuss her situation with the President. On Friday, September 12, 1997, she arrived at the White House without an appointment, called Ms. Currie, and had a long wait at the gate. When Ms. Currie came to meet her, Ms. Lewinsky was crying. Ms. Currie explained that sometimes the President's hands are tied -- but, she said, she had gotten his authorization to ask John Podesta, the Deputy Chief of Staff, to help Ms. Lewinsky return to work at the White House.(564)

J. Black Dog Gifts

Before the President had left for vacation, Ms. Lewinsky had sent a note asking if he could bring her a T-shirt from the Black Dog, a popular Vineyard restaurant.(565) In early September, Ms. Currie gave several Black Dog items to Ms. Lewinsky.(566) In an email message to Catherine Davis, Ms. Lewinsky wrote: "Well, I found out from Betty yesterday that he not only brought me a t-shirt, he got me 2 t-shirts, a hat and a dress!!!! Even though he's a big schmuck, that is surprisingly sweet -- even that he remembered!"(567)

K. Lucy Mercer Letter and Involvement of Chief of Staff

A letter dated September 30, 1997, styled as an official memo, was found in Ms. Lewinsky's apartment. According to Ms. Lewinsky, she sent this letter or a similar one to the President.(568) Addressed to "Handsome" and bearing the subject line "The New Deal," the faux memo proposed a visit that evening after "everyone else goes home." Ms. Lewinsky wrote: "You will show me that you will let me visit you sans a crisis, and I will be on my best behavior and not stressed out when I come (to see you, that is)." She closed with an allusion to a woman rumored to have been involved with an earlier President: "Oh, and Handsome, remember FDR would never have turned down a visit with Lucy Mercer!"(569)

Ms. Lewinsky did not visit the White House the night of September 30, but the President called her late the night of September 30 or October 1.(570) According to Ms. Lewinsky, he may have mentioned during this call that he would get Erskine Bowles to help her find a White House job.(571)

At around this time, the President did ask the White House Chief of Staff to help in the job search. Mr. Bowles testified about a conversation with the President in the Oval Office: "He told me that there was a young woman -- her name was Monica Lewinsky -- who used to work at the White House; that Evelyn . . . thought she hung around the Oval Office too much and transferred her to the Pentagon."(572) The President asked Mr. Bowles to try to find Ms. Lewinsky a job in the Old Executive Office Building.(573) Mr. Bowles assigned his deputy, John Podesta, to handle it.(574)

L. News of Job Search Failure

On October 6, 1997, according to Ms. Lewinsky, she was told that she would never work at the White House again. Ms. Tripp conveyed the news, which she indicated had come from a friend on the White House staff. Ms. Lewinsky testified:

Linda Tripp called me at work on October 6th and told me that her friend Kate in the NSC . . . had heard rumors about me and that I would never work in the White House again . . . . [Kate's] advice to me was "get out of town."(575)

For Ms. Lewinsky, who had previously considered moving to New York, this call was the "straw that broke the camel's back."(576) She was enraged.(577)

In a note she drafted (but did not send), Ms. Lewinsky expressed her frustration. She wrote:

Any normal person would have walked away from this and said, "He doesn't call me, he doesn't want to see me -- screw it. It doesn't matter." I can't let go of you. . . . I want to be a source of pleasure and laughter and energy to you. I want to make you smile.

She went on to relate that she had heard second-hand from a White House employee "that I was 'after the President' and would never be allowed to work [in] the complex." Ms. Lewinsky said she could only conclude "that all you have promised me is an empty promise. . . . I am once again totally humiliated. It is very clear that there is no way I am going to be brought back." She closed the note: "I will never do anything to hurt you. I am simply not that kind of person. Moreover, I love you."(578)

When terminating their sexual relationship on May 24, the President had told Ms. Lewinsky that he hoped they would remain friends, for he could do a great deal for her.(579) Now, having learned that he could not (or would not) get her a White House job, Ms. Lewinsky decided to ask him for a job in New York, perhaps at the United Nations -- a possibility that she had mentioned to him in passing over the summer. On the afternoon of October 6, Ms. Lewinsky spoke of this plan to Ms. Currie, who quoted the President as having said earlier: "Oh, that's no problem. We can place her in the UN like that."(580)

In a recorded conversation later on October 6, Ms. Lewinsky said she wanted two things from the President. The first was contrition: He needed to "acknowledge . . . that he helped fuck up my life."(581) The second was a job, one that she could obtain without much effort: "I don't want to have to work for this position . . . . I just want it to be given to me."(582) Ms. Lewinsky decided to write the President a note proposing that the two of them "get together and work on some way that I can come out of this situation not feeling the way I do."(583) After composing the letter, she said: "I want him to feel a little guilty, and I hope that this letter did that."(584)

In this letter, which was sent via courier on October 7, Ms. Lewinsky said she understood that she would never be given a White House job, and she asked for a prompt meeting to discuss her job situation.(585) She went on to advance a specific request:

I'd like to ask you to help me secure a position in NY beginning 1 December. I would be very grateful, and I am hoping this is a solution for both of us. I want you to know that it has always been and remains more important to me to have you in my life than to come back. . . . Please don't let me down.(586)

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