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Narrative Pt. XI: The Witness List and Job Search

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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XI. December 5-18, 1997:

The Witness List and Job Search

On Friday, December 5, Paula Jones's attorneys faxed a list of their potential witnesses -- including Ms. Lewinsky -- to the President's personal attorneys. The following day, President Clinton saw Ms. Lewinsky in an unscheduled visit and then discussed the Jones case with his attorneys and Deputy White House Counsel Bruce Lindsey. A few days later, Ms. Lewinsky met with Mr. Jordan at his office, and he arranged interviews for Ms. Lewinsky at three companies. In the middle of the night on December 17, the President called and informed Ms. Lewinsky that she was on the witness list and that she might have to testify under oath in the Jones case.

A. December 5: The Witness List

On Friday December 5, 1997, attorneys for Paula Jones identified Ms. Lewinsky as a potential witness in Ms. Jones's sexual harassment case.(708) At 5:40 p.m., they faxed their witness list to the President's attorney, Robert Bennett.(709) Ms. Lewinsky, however, would not learn of her potential involvement in the Jones case for twelve more days, when the President informed her.(710)

President Clinton was asked in the grand jury when he learned that Ms. Lewinsky's name was on the witness list. The President responded: "I believe that I found out late in the afternoon on the sixth."(711)

B. December 5: Christmas Party at the White House

On Friday, December 5, Ms. Lewinsky returned from Department of Defense travel in Europe.(712) She asked Ms. Currie if the President could see her the next day, but Ms. Currie said he was busy meeting with his lawyers.(713) In the late afternoon, she attended a Christmas party at the White House with a Defense Department colleague.(714) Ms. Lewinsky exchanged a few words with the President in the reception line.(715)

The Christmas reception encounter heightened Ms. Lewinsky's frustration. On the evening of December 5, she drafted an anguished letter to the President.(716) "[Y]ou want me out of your life," she wrote. "I guess the signs have been made clear for awhile -- not wanting to see me and rarely calling. I used to think it was you putting up walls."(717) She had purchased several gifts for him, and, she wrote, "I wanted to give them to you in person, but that is obviously not going to happen."(718) Ms. Lewinsky reminded the President of his words during their October 10 telephone argument:

I will never forget what you said that night we fought on the phone -- if you had known what I was really like you would never have gotten involved with me. I'm sure you're not the first person to have felt that way about me. I am sorry that this has been such a bad experience.(719)

She concluded the letter: "I knew it would hurt to say goodbye to you; I just never thought it would have to be on paper. Take care."(720)

   


C. December 6: The Northwest Gate Incident

1. Initial Visit and Rejection

On the morning of Saturday, December 6, Ms. Lewinsky went to the White House to deliver the letter and gifts to the President. The gifts included a sterling silver antique cigar holder, a tie, a mug, a "Hugs and Kisses" box, and an antique book about Theodore Roosevelt.(721) Ms. Lewinsky planned to leave the parcel with Ms. Currie, who had told Ms. Lewinsky that the President would be busy with his lawyers and unable to see her.(722)

Ms. Lewinsky arrived at the White House at approximately 10:00 a.m. She told the Secret Service uniformed officers at the Northwest Gate that she had gifts to drop off for the President, but that Ms. Currie did not know she was coming.(723) Ms. Lewinsky and the officers made several calls in an attempt to locate Ms. Currie.(724) The officers eventually invited Ms. Lewinsky inside the guard booth.(725) When Ms. Currie learned that Ms. Lewinsky was at the Northwest Gate, she sent word that the President "already had a guest in the [O]val," so the officers should have Ms. Lewinsky wait there for about 40 minutes.(726)

While Ms. Lewinsky was waiting, one officer mentioned that Eleanor Mondale was in the White House.(727) Ms. Lewinsky correctly surmised that the President was meeting with Ms. Mondale, rather than his lawyers, and she was "livid."(728) She stormed away, called and berated Ms. Currie from a pay phone, and then returned to her Watergate apartment.(729)

Hands shaking and almost crying, Ms. Currie informed several Secret Service officers that the President was "irate" that someone had disclosed to Ms. Lewinsky whom he was meeting with.(730) Ms. Currie told Sergeant Keith Williams, a supervisory uniformed Secret Service Officer, that if he "didn't find out what was going on, someone could be fired."(731) She also told Captain Jeffrey Purdie, the Secret Service watch commander for the uniformed division at the time, that the President was "so upset he wants somebody fired over this."(732)

2. Ms. Lewinsky Returns to the White House

From her apartment, Ms. Lewinsky reached the President on the phone.(733) According to Ms. Lewinsky, the President was angry that she had "made a stink" and said that "it was none of my business . . . what he was doing."(734)

Then, to Ms. Lewinsky's surprise, the President invited her to visit him.(735) She testified that "none of the other times that we had really fought on the phone did it end up resulting in a visit that day."(736) WAVES records reflect that Ms. Lewinsky was cleared to enter the White House at 12:52 p.m. and exited at 1:36 p.m.(737)

During their meeting, Ms. Lewinsky told the President that Mr. Jordan had done nothing to help her find a job.(738) The President responded, "Oh, I'll talk to him. I'll get on it."(739)

Ms. Lewinsky testified that, overall, she had a "really nice" and "affectionate" visit with the President.(740) In an email to a friend a few days later, she wrote that, although "things have been crazy with the creep, . . . I did have a wonderful visit with him on Saturday. When he doesn't put his walls up, it is always heavenly."(741)

3. "Whatever Just Happened Didn't Happen"

Later that day (December 6), the uniformed Secret Service officers at the Northwest Gate were told that no one would be fired -- so long as they remained quiet. According to Sergeant Williams, Ms. Currie said that, if the officers did not "tell a lot of people what had happened, then nothing would happen."(742)

The President told Captain Jeffrey Purdie, the Secret Service watch commander for the uniformed division at the time, "I hope you use your discretion."(743) Captain Purdie interpreted the President's remark to mean that Captain Purdie "wasn't going to say anything," and he in turn told all of the officers involved not to discuss the incident.(744) One officer recalled that Captain Purdie told him and other officers, "Whatever just happened didn't happen."(745) Captain Purdie told another officer, "I was just in the Oval Office with the President and he wants somebody's ass out here. . . . As far as you're concerned, . . . [t]his never happened."(746) In response, that officer, who considered the Northwest Gate incident a "major event," "just shook [his] head" and "started making a set of [his] own notes" in order to document the incident.(747)

Captain Purdie recommended to his supervisor, Deputy Chief Charles O'Malley, that "no paperwork be generated" regarding the Northwest Gate incident because "Ms. Currie was satisfied with the way things were handled."(748) According to Captain Purdie, Deputy Chief O'Malley agreed, and no record of the incident was made.(749) Deputy Chief O'Malley testified that the meeting between the President and Captain Purdie was the only occasion he could recall in fourteen years at the White House where a President directly addressed a job performance issue with a uniformed division supervisor.(750)

   


The President was questioned in the grand jury about the incident at the Northwest Gate. He testified that he knew that Ms. Lewinsky had become upset upon learning that Ms. Mondale was in the White House "to see us that day."(751) He testified: "As I remember, I had some other work to do that morning. . . . "(752) The President said that the disclosure of information that day was "inappropriate" and "a mistake," but he could not recall whether he wanted a Secret Service officer fired or gave any such orders.(753) He thought that the officers "were . . . told not to let it happen again, and I think that's the way it should have been handled."(754) When asked if he told Captain Purdie that he hoped that he could count on his discretion, the President stated, "I don't remember anything I said to him in that regard."(755)

According to Ms. Lewinsky, the President later indicated to her that he had concerns about the discretion of the Secret Service uniformed officers. On December 28 she asked how Paula Jones's attorneys could have known enough to place her on the witness list. The President replied that the source might be Linda Tripp or "the uniformed officers."(756)

D. The President Confers with His Lawyers

Deputy Counsel Bruce Lindsey testified that he met with the President and the President's personal attorney, Robert Bennett, at around 5:00 p.m. on December 6 to discuss the Jones case.(757) According to Mr. Lindsey, it was "likely" that he learned about Ms. Lewinsky's appearance on the witness list in that meeting.(758)

Earlier in the day, at around 12:00 p.m. (after Ms. Lewinsky stormed away from the Northwest Gate but before she returned and saw the President), Mr. Lindsey had received a page: "Call Betty ASAP."(759) Mr. Lindsey testified that he did not recall the page, nor did he know, at the time, that Ms. Lewinsky had visited the White House.(760)

E. Second Jordan Meeting

The next day (Sunday, December 7), Mr. Jordan visited the White House and met with the President.(761) Mr. Jordan testified that he was "fairly certain" that he did not discuss the Jones suit or Ms. Lewinsky.(762)

On Thursday, December 11, Ms. Lewinsky had her second meeting with Mr. Jordan.(763) Ms. Lewinsky testified that they discussed her job search, and Mr. Jordan told her to send letters to three business contacts that he provided her. Mr. Jordan noted that Ms. Lewinsky was anxious to get a job as quickly as possible, and he took action.(764) In the course of the day, Mr. Jordan placed calls on her behalf to Peter Georgescu, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Young & Rubicam; Richard Halperin, Executive Vice President and Special Counsel to the Chairman of MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings, Inc. (majority stockholder of Revlon); and Ursula Fairbairn, Executive Vice-President, Human Resources and Quality, of American Express.(765) Mr. Jordan told Ms. Lewinsky to keep him informed of the progress of her job search.(766)

At one point in the conversation, according to Ms. Lewinsky, Mr. Jordan said, "[Y]ou're a friend of the President."(767) This prompted Ms. Lewinsky to reveal that she "didn't really look at him as the President"; rather, she "reacted to him more as a man and got angry at him like a man and just a regular person."(768) When Mr. Jordan asked why Ms. Lewinsky got angry at the President, she replied that she became upset "when he doesn't call me enough or see me enough."(769) Ms. Lewinsky testified that Mr. Jordan advised her to take her frustrations out on him rather than the President.(770) According to Ms. Lewinsky, Mr. Jordan summed up the situation: "You're in love, that's what your problem is."(771)

Mr. Jordan recalled a similar conversation, in which Ms. Lewinsky complained that the President did not see her enough, although he thought it took place during a meeting eight days later. He testified that he felt the need to remind Ms. Lewinsky that the President is the "leader of the free world" and has competing obligations.(772)

Mr. Jordan is "certain" that he had a conversation with the President about Ms. Lewinsky at some point after this December 11 meeting.(773) He told the President that he would be trying to get Ms. Lewinsky a job in New York.(774) Mr. Jordan testified that the President "was aware that people were trying to get jobs for her, that Podesta was trying to help her, that Bill Richardson was trying to help her, but that she really wanted to work in the private sector."(775)

F. Early Morning Phone Call

On December 15, 1997, Paula Jones's lawyers served President Clinton with her second set of document requests by overnight mail. These requests asked the President to "produce documents that related to communications between the President and Monica Lewisky" [sic].(776) This was the first Paula Jones discovery request to refer to Monica Lewinsky by name.

Ms. Lewinsky testified that in the early-morning hours of December 17, at roughly 2:00 or 2:30 a.m., she received a call from the President.(777) The call lasted about half an hour.(778)

The President gave Ms. Lewinsky two items of news: Ms. Currie's brother had died in a car accident, and Ms. Lewinsky's name had appeared on the witness list in the Jones case.(779) According to Ms. Lewinsky, the President said "it broke his heart" to see her name on the witness list.(780) The President told her that she would not necessarily be subpoenaed; if she were, he "suggested she could sign an affidavit to try to satisfy [Ms. Jones's] inquiry and not be deposed."(781)

The President told Ms. Lewinsky to contact Ms. Currie in the event she were subpoenaed.(782) He also reviewed one of their established cover stories. He told Ms. Lewinsky that she "should say she visited the [White House] to see Ms. Currie and, on occasion when working at the [White House], she brought him letters when no one else was around."(783) The President's advice "was . . . instantly familiar to [Ms. Lewinsky]."(784) She testified that the President's use of this "misleading" story amounted to a continuation of their pre-existing pattern.(785)

Later in the conversation, according to Ms. Lewinsky, the President said he would try to get Ms. Currie to come in over the weekend so that Ms. Lewinsky could visit and he could give her several Christmas presents.(786) Ms. Lewinsky replied that, since Ms. Currie's brother had just died, perhaps they should "let Betty be."(787)

In his grand jury appearance, the President was questioned about the December 17 phone call. He testified that, although he could not rule it out, he did not remember such a call.(788) The President was also asked whether in this conversation, or a conversation before Ms. Lewinsky's name came up in the Jones case, he instructed her to say that she was coming to bring letters. The President answered: "I might well have said that."(789)

But when asked whether he ever said anything along these lines after Ms. Lewinsky had been identified on the witness list, the President answered: "I don't recall whether I might have done something like that."(790) He speculated that he might have suggested this explanation in the context of a call from a reporter.(791) Nonetheless, he testified, in the context of the Jones case, "I never asked her to lie."(792)

G. Job Interviews

On December 18, Ms. Lewinsky had two job interviews in New York City. At MacAndrews & Forbes, she met with Executive Vice President and Special Counsel to the Chairman Richard Halperin, who viewed the interview as "an accommodation for Vernon Jordan."(793) At Burson-Marstellar, she interviewed with Celia Berk, Managing Director of Human Resources.(794) A few days later, on December 23, Ms. Lewinsky interviewed in Washington, D.C., with Thomas Schick, Executive Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Communications, of American Express.(795)

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