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Grounds for Impeachment, No. VII

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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VII. There is substantial and credible information that President Clinton endeavored to obstruct justice by helping Ms. Lewinsky obtain a job in New York at a time when she would have been a witness against him were she to tell the truth during the Jones case.

The President had an incentive to keep Ms. Lewinsky from jeopardizing the secrecy of the relationship. That incentive grew once the Supreme Court unanimously decided in May 1997 that the case and discovery process were to go forward.

At various times during the Jones discovery process, the President and those working on his behalf devoted substantial time and attention to help Ms. Lewinsky obtain a job in the private sector.

A. Evidence

The entire saga of Ms. Lewinsky's job search and the President's assistance in that search is discussed in detail in the Narrative section of this Referral. We summarize and analyze the key events and dates here.

   


Ms. Lewinsky first mentioned her desire to move to New York in a letter to the President on July 3, 1997. The letter recounted her frustration that she had not received an offer to return to work at the White House.(315)

On October 1, the President was served with interrogatories asking about his sexual relationships with women other than Mrs. Clinton.(316) On October 7, 1997, Ms. Lewinsky couriered a letter expressing dissatisfaction with her job search to the President.(317) In response, Ms. Lewinsky said she received a late-night call from President Clinton on October 9, 1997. She said that the President told her he would start helping her find a job in New York.(318)

The following Saturday, October 11, 1997, Ms. Lewinsky met with President Clinton alone in the Oval Office dining room from 9:36 a.m. until about 10:54 a.m. In that meeting, she furnished the President a list of New York jobs in which she was interested.(319) Ms. Lewinsky mentioned to the President that she would need a reference from someone in the White House; the President said he would take care of it.(320) Ms. Lewinsky also suggested to the President that Vernon Jordan might be able to help her, and President Clinton agreed.(321) Immediately after the meeting, President Clinton spoke with Mr. Jordan by telephone.(322)

According to White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles, at some time in the summer or fall of 1997, President Clinton raised the subject of Monica Lewinsky and stated that "she was unhappy where she was working and wanted to come back and work at the OEOB [Old Executive Office Building]; and could we take a look."(323) Mr. Bowles referred the matter to Deputy Chief of Staff John Podesta.(324)

Mr. Podesta said he asked Betty Currie to have Ms. Lewinsky call him, but heard nothing until about October 1997, when Ms. Currie told him that Ms. Lewinsky was looking for opportunities in New York.(325) The Ambassador to the United Nations, Bill Richardson, said that Mr. Podesta told him that Ms. Currie had a friend looking for a position in New York.(326)

According to Ms. Lewinsky, Ambassador Richardson called her on October 21, 1997,(327) and interviewed her soon thereafter. She was then offered a position at the UN.(328) Ms. Lewinsky was unenthusiastic.(329) During the latter part of October 1997, the President and Ms. Lewinsky discussed enlisting Vernon Jordan to aid in pursuing private-sector possibilities.(330)

On November 5, 1997, Ms. Lewinsky met Mr. Jordan in his law office. Mr. Jordan told Ms. Lewinsky that she came "highly recommended."(331) Ms. Lewinsky explained that she hoped to move to New York, and went over her list of possible employers.(332) Mr. Jordan telephoned President Clinton shortly after the meeting.(333)

Ms. Lewinsky had no contact with the President or Mr. Jordan for another month.(334) On December 5, 1997, however, the parties in the Jones case exchanged witness lists. Ms. Jones's attorneys listed Ms. Lewinsky as a potential witness. The President testified that he learned that Ms. Lewinsky was on the list late in the day on December 6.(335)

The effort to obtain a job for Ms. Lewinsky then intensified. On December 7, President Clinton met with Mr. Jordan at the White House.(336) Ms. Lewinsky met with Mr. Jordan on December 11 to discuss specific job contacts in New York. Mr. Jordan gave her the names of some of his business contacts.(337) He then made calls to contacts at MacAndrews & Forbes (the parent corporation of Revlon), American Express, and Young & Rubicam.(338)

Mr. Jordan also telephoned President Clinton to keep him informed of the efforts to help Ms. Lewinsky. Mr. Jordan testified that President Clinton was aware that people were trying to get jobs for her, that Mr. Podesta was trying to help her, that Bill Richardson was trying to help her, but that she wanted to work in the private sector.(339)

On the same day of Ms. Lewinsky's meeting with Mr. Jordan, December 11, Judge Wright ordered President Clinton, over his objection, to answer certain written interrogatories as part of the discovery process in Jones. Those interrogatories required, among other things, the President to identify any government employees since 1986 with whom he had engaged in sexual relations (a term undefined for purposes of the interrogatory).(340) On December 16, the President's attorneys received a request for production of documents that mentioned Monica Lewinsky by name.

   


On December 17, 1997, according to Ms. Lewinsky, President Clinton called her in the early morning and told her that she was on the witness list, and they discussed their cover stories.(341) On December 18 and December 23, she interviewed for jobs with New York-based companies that had been contacted by Mr. Jordan.(342) On December 19, Ms. Lewinsky was served with a deposition subpoena by Ms. Jones's lawyers.(343) On December 22, 1997, Mr. Jordan took her to her new attorney; she and Mr. Jordan discussed the subpoena, the Jones case, and her job search during the course of the ride.(344)

The President answered the "other women" interrogatory on December 23, 1997, by declaring under oath: "None."(345)

On Sunday, December 28, 1997, Monica Lewinsky and the President met in the Oval Office.(346) During that meeting, the President and Ms. Lewinsky discussed both her move to New York and her involvement in the Jones suit.(347)

On January 5, 1998, Ms. Lewinsky declined the United Nations offer.(348) On January 7, 1998, Ms. Lewinsky signed the affidavit denying the relationship with President Clinton (she had talked on the phone to the President on January 5 about it).(349) Mr. Jordan informed the President of her action.(350)

The next day, on January 8, 1998, Ms. Lewinsky interviewed in New York with MacAndrews & Forbes, a company recommended by Vernon Jordan. The interview went poorly. Mr. Jordan then called Ronald Perelman, the Chairman of the Board at MacAndrews & Forbes. Mr. Perelman said Ms. Lewinsky should not worry, and that someone would call her back for another interview. Mr. Jordan relayed this message to Ms. Lewinsky, and someone called back that day.(351)

Ms. Lewinsky interviewed again the next morning, and a few hours later received an informal offer for a position.(352) She told Mr. Jordan of the offer, and Mr. Jordan then notified President Clinton with the news: "Mission accomplished."(353)

On January 12, 1998, Ms. Jones's attorneys informed Judge Wright that they might call Monica Lewinsky as a trial witness.(354) Judge Wright stated that she would allow witnesses with whom the President had worked, such as Ms. Lewinsky, to be trial witnesses.(355)

In a call on January 13, 1998, a Revlon employee formalized the job offer, and asked Ms. Lewinsky to provide references.(356) Either that day or the next, President Clinton told Erskine Bowles that Ms. Lewinsky "had found a job in the . . . private sector, and she had listed John Hilley as a reference, and could we see if he could recommend her, if asked."(357) Thereafter, Mr. Bowles took the President's request to Deputy Chief of Staff John Podesta, who in turn spoke to Mr. Hilley about writing a letter of recommendation. After speaking with Mr. Podesta, Mr. Hilley agreed to write such a letter, but cautioned it would be a "generic" one.(358) On January 14, at approximately 11:17 a.m., Ms. Lewinsky faxed her letter of acceptance to Revlon and listed Mr. Hilley as a reference.(359)

On January 15, the President responded to the December 15 request for production of documents relating to Monica Lewinsky by answering "none." On January 16, Ms. Lewinsky's attorney sent to the District Court in the Jones case her affidavit denying a "sexual relationship" with the President.(360) The next day, on January 17, the President was deposed and his attorney used her affidavit as the President similarly denied a "sexual relationship."

B. Summary

When a party in a lawsuit (or investigation) provides job or financial assistance to a witness, a question arises as to possible witness tampering. The critical question centers on the intent of the party providing the assistance. Direct evidence of that intent often is unavailable. Indeed, in some cases, the witness receiving the job assistance may not even know that the party providing the assistance was motivated by a desire to stay on good terms with the witness during the pending legal proceeding.(361) Similarly, others who are enlisted in the party's effort to influence the witness's testimony by providing job assistance may not be aware of the party's motivation and intent.

One can draw inferences about the party's intent from circumstantial evidence. In this case, the President assisted Ms. Lewinsky in her job search in late 1997, at a time when she would have become a witness harmful to him in the Jones case were she to testify truthfully. The President did not act half-heartedly. His assistance led to the involvement of the Ambassador to the United Nations, one of the country's leading business figures (Mr. Perelman), and one of the country's leading attorneys (Vernon Jordan).

The question, therefore, is whether the President's efforts in obtaining a job for Ms. Lewinsky were to influence her testimony(362) or simply to help an ex-intimate without concern for her testimony. Three key facts are essential in analyzing his actions: (i) the chronology of events, (ii) the fact that the President and Ms. Lewinsky both intended to lie under oath about the relationship, and (iii) the fact that it was critical for the President that Ms. Lewinsky lie under oath.

There is substantial and credible information that the President assisted Ms. Lewinsky in her job search motivated at least in part by his desire to keep her "on the team" in the Jones litigation.

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