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Grounds for Impeachment, No. III

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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III. There is substantial and credible information that President Clinton lied under oath during his civil deposition when he stated that he could not recall being alone with Monica Lewinsky and when he minimized the number of gifts they had exchanged.

The President testified to the grand jury and stated to the Nation on August 17 that his testimony in his civil deposition had been "legally accurate." Even apart from his answers about the sexual relationship, the President's deposition testimony was inaccurate on several other points.

During President Clinton's deposition in the Jones case, Ms. Jones's attorneys asked the President many detailed questions about the nature of his relationship with Ms. Lewinsky, apart from whether the relationship was sexual. The questions included: (i) whether the President had been alone with Ms. Lewinsky in the White House and, if so, how many times; and (ii) whether he and Ms. Lewinsky exchanged gifts.(118) Both issues were important in determining the nature of the relationship.(119)

There is substantial and credible information that the President lied under oath about those subjects.

   


A. There is substantial and credible information that President Clinton lied under oath when he testified that he could not specifically recall instances in which he was alone with Monica Lewinsky.

1. The President's Civil Deposition Testimony

President Clinton was asked at his deposition whether he had ever been alone with Ms. Lewinsky. He testified as follows:

Q: . . . At any time were you and Monica Lewinsky together alone in the Oval Office?

[videotape shows approximately five-second pause before answer]

WJC: I don't recall, but as I said, when she worked at the legislative affairs office, they always had somebody there on the weekends. I typically worked some on the weekends. Sometimes they'd bring me things on the weekends. She -- it seems to me she brought things to me once or twice on the weekends. In that case, whatever time she would be in there, drop it off, exchange a few words and go, she was there. I don't have any specific recollections of what the issues were, what was going on, but when the Congress is there, we're working all the time, and typically I would do some work on one of the days of the weekends in the afternoon.

Q: So I understand, your testimony is that it was possible, then, that you were alone with her, but you have no specific recollection of that ever happening?

WJC: Yes, that's correct. It's possible that she, in, while she was working there, brought something to me and that at the time she brought it to me, she was the only person there. That's possible.(120)

The President also was asked whether he had ever been alone with Ms. Lewinsky in the hallway that runs from the Oval Office, past the study, to the dining room and kitchen area.(121)

Q: At any time were you and Monica Lewinsky alone in the hallway between the Oval Office and this kitchen area?

WJC: I don't believe so, unless we were walking back to the back dining room with the pizza.(122) I just, I don't remember. I don't believe we were alone in the hallway, no.(123)

The President was then asked about any times he may have been alone in any room with Ms. Lewinsky:

Q: At any time have you and Monica Lewinsky ever been alone together in any room of the White House?

WJC: I think I testified to that earlier. I think that there is a, it is -- I have no specific recollection, but it seems to me that she was on duty on a couple of occasions working for the legislative affairs office and brought me some things to sign, something on the weekend. That's -- I have a general memory of that.(124)

2. Evidence That Contradicts the President's Testimony

In the seven months preceding the President's grand jury testimony on August 17, the OIC gathered substantial and credible information that the President lied under oath in his deposition statements about being alone with Monica Lewinsky.

First, Monica Lewinsky testified before the grand jury that she was alone with the President on numerous occasions(125) and in numerous areas, including the Oval Office,(126) Nancy Hernreich's office,(127) the President's private study,(128) the private bathroom across from the study,(129) and the hallway that leads from the Oval Office to the private dining room.(130) Ms. Lewinsky confirmed that she and the President were alone during sexual activity.(131)

Second, Betty Currie testified that President Clinton and Ms. Lewinsky were alone together in the Oval Office area a number of times.(132) She specifically remembered three occasions when the President and Ms. Lewinsky were alone together: February 28, 1997,(133) early December 1997,(134) and December 28, 1997.(135)

Third, six current or former members of the Secret Service testified that the President and Ms. Lewinsky were alone in the Oval Office area -- Robert Ferguson,(136) Lewis Fox,(137) William Bordley,(138) Nelson Garabito,(139) Gary Byrne,(140) and John Muskett.(141)

Fourth, White House steward Glen Maes testified that on some weekend day after Christmas 1997,(142) the President came out of the Oval Office, saw Ms. Lewinsky with a gift, and escorted her into the Oval Office. Mr. Maes testified that the President and Ms. Lewinsky were alone together for approximately eight minutes, and then Ms. Lewinsky left.(143)

3. The President's Grand Jury Testimony

On August 17, 1998, the President testified to the grand jury and began his testimony by reading a statement admitting that he had been alone with Ms. Lewinsky:

When I was alone with Ms. Lewinsky on certain occasions in early 1996 and once in early 1997, I engaged in conduct that was wrong.(144)

The President acknowledged being alone with Ms. Lewinsky on multiple occasions, although he could not pinpoint the precise number.(145) Perhaps most important, the President admitted that he was alone with Ms. Lewinsky on December 28, 1997,(146) less than three weeks before his deposition in the Jones case. Indeed, he acknowledged that he would have to have been an "exhibitionist" for him not to have been alone with Ms. Lewinsky when they were having sexual encounters.(147)

4. Summary

Substantial and credible information demonstrates that the President made three false statements under oath in his civil deposition regarding whether he had been alone with Ms. Lewinsky.

   


First, the President lied when he said "I don't recall" in response to the question whether he had ever been alone with Ms. Lewinsky. The President admitted to the grand jury that he had been alone with Ms. Lewinsky. It is not credible that he actually had no memory of this fact six months earlier, particularly given that they were obviously alone when engaging in sexual activity.

Second, when asked whether he had been alone with Ms. Lewinsky in the hallway in the Oval Office, the President answered, "I don't believe so, unless we were walking back to the back dining room with the pizza."(148) That statement, too, was false: Most of the sexual encounters between the President and Ms. Lewinsky occurred in that hallway (and on other occasions, they walked through the hallway to the dining room or study), and it is not credible that the President would have forgotten this fact.

Third, the President suggested at his civil deposition that he had no specific recollection of being alone with Ms. Lewinsky in the Oval Office, but had a general recollection that Ms. Lewinsky may have brought him "papers to sign" on certain occasions when she worked at the Legislative Affairs Office.(149) This statement was false. Ms. Lewinsky did not bring him papers for official purposes. To the contrary, "bringing papers" was one of the sham "cover stories" that the President and Ms. Lewinsky had originally crafted to conceal their sexual relationship.(150) The fact that the President resorted to a previously designed cover story when testifying under oath at the Jones deposition confirms that he made these false denials in a calculated manner with the intent and knowledge that they were false.

The President had an obvious motive to lie in this respect. He knew that it would appear odd for a President to have been alone with a female intern or low-level staffer on so many occasions. Such an admission might persuade Judge Wright to deny any motion by Ms. Lewinsky to quash her deposition subpoena. It also might prompt Ms. Jones's attorneys to oppose efforts by Ms. Lewinsky not to be deposed and to ask specific questions of Ms. Lewinsky about the times she was alone with the President. It also might raise questions publicly if and when the President's deposition became public; at least parts of the deposition were likely to become public at trial, if not at the summary judgment stage.

Because lying about their sexual relationship was insufficient to avoid raising further questions, the President also lied about being alone with Ms. Lewinsky -- or at least feigned lack of memory as to specific occurrences.(151)

B. There is substantial and credible information that the President lied under oath in his civil deposition about gifts he exchanged with Monica Lewinsky.

During his civil deposition, the President also was asked several questions about gifts he and Monica Lewinsky had exchanged. The evidence demonstrates that he answered the questions falsely. As with the questions about being alone, truthful answers to these questions would have raised questions about the nature of the relationship. Such answers also would have been inconsistent with the understanding of the President and Ms. Lewinsky that, in response to her subpoena, Ms. Lewinsky would not produce all of the gifts she had received from the President (an issue discussed more fully in Ground V).

1. The President's Civil Deposition Testimony About His Gifts to Monica Lewinsky

During the President's deposition in the Jones case, Ms. Jones's attorneys asked several questions about whether he had given gifts to Monica Lewinsky.

Q: Well, have you ever given any gifts to Monica Lewinsky?

WJC: I don't recall. Do you know what they were?

Q: A hat pin?

WJC: I don't, I don't remember. But I certainly, I could have.

Q: A book about Walt Whitman?

WJC: I give -- let me just say, I give people a lot of gifts, and when people are around I give a lot of things I have at the White House away, so I could have given her a gift, but I don't remember a specific gift.

Q: Do you remember giving her a gold broach?

WJC: No.(152)

2. Evidence that Contradicts the President's Civil Deposition Testimony

(i) Just three weeks before the President's deposition, on December 28, 1997, President Clinton gave Ms. Lewinsky a number of gifts, the largest number he had ever given her.(153) They included a large Rockettes blanket, a pin of the New York skyline, a marble-like bear's head from Vancouver, a pair of sunglasses, a small box of cherry chocolates, a canvas bag from the Black Dog, and a stuffed animal wearing a T-shirt from the Black Dog.(154) Ms. Lewinsky produced the Rockettes blanket, the bear's head, the Black Dog canvas bag, the Black Dog stuffed animal, and the sunglasses to the OIC on July 29, 1998.(155)

(ii) The evidence also demonstrates that the President gave Ms. Lewinsky a hat pin as a belated Christmas gift on February 28, 1997.(156) The President and Ms. Lewinsky discussed the hatpin on December 28, 1997, after Ms. Lewinsky received a subpoena calling for her to produce all gifts from the President, including any hat pins.(157) In her meeting with the President on December 28, 1997, according to Ms. Lewinsky, "I mentioned that I had been concerned about the hat pin being on the subpoena and he said that that had sort of concerned him also and asked me if I had told anyone that he had given me this hat pin and I said no."(158) The President's secretary Betty Currie also testified that she had previously discussed the hat pin with the President.(159)

(iii) Ms. Lewinsky testified that the President gave her additional gifts over the course of their relationship, such as a brooch,(160) the book Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman,(161) an Annie Lennox compact disk,(162) and a cigar.(163)

3. President's Civil Deposition Testimony About Gifts from Monica Lewinsky to the President

When asked at his civil deposition in the Jones case whether Monica Lewinsky had ever given him gifts, President Clinton testified as follows:

Q: Has Monica Lewinsky ever given you any gifts?

WJC: Once or twice. I think she's given me a book or two.

Q: Did she give you a silver cigar box?

WJC: No.

Q: Did she give you a tie?

WJC: Yes, she has given me a tie before. I believe that's right. Now, as I said, let me remind you, normally when I get these ties, I get ties, you know, together, and then they're given to me later, but I believe that she has given me a tie.(164)

4. Evidence that Contradicts the President's Testimony

(i) Monica Lewinsky's Testimony

The evidence reveals that Ms. Lewinsky gave the President approximately 38 gifts; she says she almost always brought a gift or two when she visited.(165)

a. Ms. Lewinsky testified before the grand jury that she gave the President six neckties.(166)

b. Ms. Lewinsky testified that she gave the President a pair of sunglasses on approximately October 22, 1997.(167) The President's attorney, David E. Kendall, stated in a letter on March 16, 1998: "We believe that Ms. Lewinsky might have given the President a few additional items, such as ties and a pair of sunglasses, but we have not been able to locate these items."(168)

c. On November 13, 1997, Ms. Lewinsky gave the President an antique paperweight that depicted the White House.(169) Ms. Lewinsky testified that on December 6, 1997, and possibly again on December 28, 1997, she saw this paperweight in the dining room, where the President keeps many items of political memorabilia.(170) The President turned over the paperweight to the OIC in response to a second subpoena calling for it.(171)

d. Ms. Lewinsky gave the President at least seven books:

The Presidents of the United States, on January 4, 1998;(172)

  • Our Patriotic President: His Life in Pictures, Anecdotes, Sayings, Principles and Biography,(173) on December 6, 1997;(174)


  • an antique book on Peter the Great, on August 16, 1997;(175)


The Notebook, on August 16, 1997;(176)

  • Oy Vey, in early 1997;(177)


  • a small golf book, in early 1997;(178) and


her personal copy of Vox, a novel about phone sex, on March 29, 1997.(179)

e. Ms. Lewinsky gave the President an antique cigar holder, on December 6, 1997.(180)

f. Ms. Lewinsky testified that she gave the President a number of additional gifts.(181)

5. Grand Jury Testimony of the President and Ms. Currie

When he testified to the grand jury, President Clinton acknowledged giving Monica Lewinsky several gifts, stating that "it was a right thing to do to give her gifts back."(182) He acknowledged giving her gifts on December 28, 1997,(183) just three weeks before the civil deposition.

During the criminal investigation, the President has produced seven gifts that Ms. Lewinsky gave him. He testified to the grand jury that Ms. Lewinsky had given him "a tie, a coffee cup, a number of other things I had."(184) In addition, the President acknowledged that "there were some things that had been in my possession that I no longer had, I believe."(185)

Betty Currie testified that Ms. Lewinsky sent a number of packages for the President -- six or eight, she estimated.(186) Ms. Lewinsky also sometimes dropped parcels off or had family members do so.(187) When the packages came to the White House, Ms. Currie would leave the packages from Ms. Lewinsky in the President's box outside the Oval Office, and "[h]e would pick [them] up."(188) To the best of her knowledge, such parcels always reached the President: "The President got everything anyone sent him."(189) Ms. Currie testified that to her knowledge, no one delivered packages or something as many times as Ms. Lewinsky did.(190)

6. Summary

The President stated in his civil deposition that he could not recall whether he had ever given any gifts to Ms. Lewinsky;(191) that he could not remember whether he had given her a hat pin although "certainly, I could have"; and that he had received a gift from Ms. Lewinsky only "once or twice."(192) In fact, the evidence demonstrates that they exchanged numerous gifts of various kinds at many points over a lengthy period of time. Indeed, on December 28, only three weeks before the deposition, they had discussed the hat pin. Also on December 28, the President had given Ms. Lewinsky a number of gifts, more than he had ever given her before.

A truthful answer to the questions about gifts at the Jones deposition would have raised further questions about the President's relationship with Monica Lewinsky. The number itself would raise questions about the relationship and prompt further questions about specific gifts; some of the specific gifts (such as Vox and Leaves of Grass) would raise questions whether the relationship was sexual and whether the President had lied in denying that their relationship was sexual. Ms. Lewinsky explained the point: Had they admitted the gifts, it would "at least prompt [the Jones attorneys] to want to question me about what kind of friendship I had with the President and they would want to speculate and they'd leak it and my name would be trashed and he [the President] would be in trouble."(193)

A truthful answer about the gifts to Ms. Lewinsky also would have raised the question of where they were. Ms. Lewinsky had been subpoenaed for gifts, as the President knew. The President knew also from his conversation with Ms. Lewinsky on December 28, 1997 (an issue discussed more fully in Ground V) that Ms. Lewinsky would not produce all of the gifts she had received from the President.

For those reasons, the President had a clear motive when testifying under oath to lie about the gifts.

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