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Grounds for Impeachment, No. IV

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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IV. There is substantial and credible information that the President lied under oath during his civil deposition concerning conversations he had with Monica Lewinsky about her involvement in the Jones case.

President Clinton was asked during his civil deposition whether he had discussed with Ms. Lewinsky the possibility of her testifying in the Jones case. He also was asked whether he knew that she had been subpoenaed at the time he last had spoken to her.

There is substantial and credible information that the President lied under oath in answering these questions. A false statement about these conversations was necessary in order to avoid raising questions whether the President had tampered with a prospective witness in the civil lawsuit against him.

   


A. Conversations with Ms. Lewinsky Regarding the Possibility of Her Testifying in the Jones Case

1. President Clinton's Testimony in His Deposition

In the President's civil deposition, he was asked about any discussions he might have had with Monica Lewinsky about the Jones case:

Q: Have you ever talked to Monica Lewinsky about the possibility that she might be asked to testify in this lawsuit?

[videotape indicates an approximately 14-second pause before answer]

WJC: I'm not sure, and let me tell you why I'm not sure. It seems to me the, the, the -- I want to be as accurate as I can here. Seems to me the last time she was there to see Betty before Christmas we were joking about how you-all [Ms. Jones's attorneys], with the help of the Rutherford Institute, were going to call every woman I'd ever talked to . . . and ask them that, and so I said you [Ms. Lewinsky] would qualify, or something like that. I don't, I don't think we ever had more of a conversation than that about it, but I might have mentioned something to her about it, because when I saw how long the witness list was, or I heard about it, before I saw, but actually by the time I saw it her name was on it, but I think that was after all this had happened. I might have said something like that, so I don't want to say for sure I didn't, because I might have said something like that.

* * * *

Q: What, if anything, did Monica Lewinsky say in response?

WJC: Nothing that I remember. Whatever she said, I don't remember. Probably just some predictable thing.(194)

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

(i) Ms. Lewinsky's Testimony

Ms. Lewinsky testified that she spoke three times to President Clinton about the prospect of testifying in the Jones lawsuit -- once (December 17, 1997) after she was on the witness list and twice more (December 28, 1997, and January 5, 1998) after she had been subpoenaed.

a. December 17, 1997, Call. Ms. Lewinsky testified that President Clinton called her at about 2:00 a.m. on December 17, 1997. First, he told her that Ms. Currie's brother had died; then he told Ms. Lewinsky that she was on the witness list in the Jones case. According to Ms. Lewinsky, "[h]e told me that it didn't necessarily mean that I would be subpoenaed, but that that was a possibility, and if I were to be subpoenaed, that I should contact Betty and let Betty know that I had received the subpoena."(195) Ms. Lewinsky said that the President told her that she might be able to sign an affidavit to avoid being deposed.(196) According to Ms. Lewinsky, the President also told her, "You know, you can always say you were coming to see Betty or that you were bringing me letters."(197) Ms. Lewinsky took that statement to be a reminder of the false "cover stories" that they had used earlier in the relationship.(198)

b. December 28, 1997, Visit. Ms. Lewinsky was subpoenaed on December 19. At her request, Vernon Jordan told the President that Ms. Lewinsky had been subpoenaed.(199) She then met with President Clinton nine days later on December 28, less than three weeks before the President was deposed.

According to Ms. Lewinsky, she and the President discussed the Jones lawsuit and how the Jones lawyers might have learned about her. Ms. Lewinsky said they also discussed the subpoena's requirement that she produce gifts she had received from the President, including specifically a "hat pin."(200)

Because of their mutual concern about the subpoena, Ms. Lewinsky testified that she asked the President if she should put the gifts away somewhere.(201) The President responded "I don't know" or "Hmm" or "Let me think about it."(202) Later that day, according to Ms. Lewinsky, Ms. Currie called to pick up the gifts, which she then stored under her bed in her home in Virginia.(203) (This issue will be discussed more fully in Ground V below.)

   


c. January 5, 1998, Call. Ms. Lewinsky also testified that she spoke to the President by telephone on January 5, 1998, and they continued to discuss her role in the Jones case. Ms. Lewinsky expressed concern that, if she were deposed, she might have a difficult time explaining the circumstances of her transfer from the White House to the Pentagon. According to Ms. Lewinsky, the President suggested that she answer by explaining that people in the White House Legislative Affairs office had helped her get the Pentagon job -- which Ms. Lewinsky understood to be a misleading answer because she in fact had been transferred as a result of her being around the Oval Office too much.(204)

(ii) The President's Grand Jury Testimony

When the President testified to the grand jury, the President admitted that Ms. Lewinsky visited him on December 28, 1997,(205) and that during that visit, they discussed her involvement in the Jones case:

WJC: . . . I remember a conversation about the possibility of her testifying. I believe it must have occurred on the 28th.

She mentioned to me that she did not want to testify. So, that's how it came up. Not in the context of, I heard you have a subpoena, let's talk about it.

She raised the issue with me in the context of her desire to avoid testifying, which I certainly understood; not only because there were some embarrassing facts about our relationship that were inappropriate, but also because a whole lot of innocent people were being traumatized and dragged through the mud by these Jones lawyers with their dragnet strategy. . . .(206)

* * * *

Q: . . . Do you agree that she was upset about being subpoenaed?

WJC: Oh, yes, sir, she was upset. She -- well, she-- we -- she didn't -- we didn't talk about a subpoena. But she was upset. She said, I don't want to testify; I know nothing about this; I certainly know nothing about sexual harassment; why do they want me to testify. And I explained to her why they were doing this, and why all these women were on these lists, people that they knew good and well had nothing to do with any sexual harassment.(207)

3. Summary

There is substantial and credible information that President Clinton lied under oath in his civil deposition in answering "I'm not sure" when asked whether he had talked to Ms. Lewinsky about the prospect of her testifying. In fact, he had talked to Ms. Lewinsky about it on three occasions in the month preceding his civil deposition, as Ms. Lewinsky's testimony makes clear.

The President's motive to lie in his civil deposition on this point is evident. Had he admitted talking to Ms. Lewinsky about the possibility that she might be asked to testify, that would have raised the specter of witness tampering. Such an admission likely would have led Ms. Jones's attorneys to inquire further into that subject with both the President and Ms. Lewinsky. Furthermore, had the President admitted talking to Ms. Lewinsky about her testifying, that conversation would have attracted public inquiry into the conversation and the general relationship between the President and Ms. Lewinsky.

B. There is substantial and credible information that President Clinton lied under oath in his civil deposition when he denied knowing that Ms. Lewinsky had received her subpoena at the time he had last talked to her.

1. Evidence

In his civil deposition, President Clinton testified that the last time he had spoken to Ms. Lewinsky was in December 1997 (the month before the deposition), "[p]robably sometime before Christmas."(208) The President was asked:

Q: Did [Ms. Lewinsky] tell you she had been served with a subpoena in this case?

WJC: No. I don't know if she had been.(209)

Vernon Jordan testified that he had told the President about the subpoena on December 19, 1997, after he had talked to Ms. Lewinsky. Ms. Lewinsky confirmed that Mr. Jordan had told her on December 22, 1997, that he (Mr. Jordan) had told the President of her subpoena.(210)

When he testified to the grand jury, the President stated that in his conversation with Ms. Lewinsky on December 28, 1997, "my recollection is I knew by then, of course, that she had gotten a subpoena. And I knew that she was, therefore, . . . slated to testify."(211)

Ms. Lewinsky testified that she and the President had two conversations after she was subpoenaed: the December 28, 1997, meeting and a January 5, 1998, phone conversation.(212)

2. Summary

There is substantial and credible information that the President lied under oath in his civil deposition by answering "I don't know if she had been" subpoenaed when describing his last conversation with Ms. Lewinsky. In fact, he knew that she had been subpoenaed. Given that the conversation with Ms. Lewinsky occurred in the few weeks immediately before the President's civil deposition, he could not have forgotten the conversation. As a result, there is no plausible conclusion except that the President intentionally lied in this answer.

During the civil deposition, the President also falsely dated his last conversation with Ms. Lewinsky as "probably sometime before Christmas," which implied that it might have been before the December 19 subpoena. Because Ms. Lewinsky had been subpoenaed on December 19, that false statement about the date of the conversation was a corollary to his other false statement (that he did not know she had been subpoenaed at the time of their last conversation).

The President's motive to lie in his civil deposition on the subpoena issue is evident. Had he admitted talking to Ms. Lewinsky after her subpoena, that would have raised the specter of witness tampering, which could have triggered legal and public scrutiny of the President.

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