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Grounds for Impeachment, No. VIII

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. There is substantial and credible information that the President lied under oath in describing his conversations with Vernon Jordan about Ms. Lewinsky.

President Clinton was asked during his civil deposition whether he had talked to Mr. Jordan about Ms. Lewinsky's involvement in the Jones case. The President stated that he knew Mr. Jordan had talked to Ms. Lewinsky about her move to New York, but stated that he did not recall whether Mr. Jordan had talked to Ms. Lewinsky about her involvement in the Jones case. The testimony was false. A lie under oath about these conversations was necessary to avoid inquiry into whether Ms. Lewinsky's job and her testimony were improperly related.

A. President's Testimony in the Jones Case

The President was questioned in his civil deposition about his conversations with Vernon Jordan regarding Ms. Lewinsky and her role in the Jones case. Beforehand, the President was asked a general question:

   


Q: Did anyone other than your attorneys ever tell you that Monica Lewinsky had been served with a subpoena in this case?

WJC: I don't think so.(363)

The President later testified in more detail about conversations he may have had with Mr. Jordan concerning Ms. Lewinsky's role in the case:

Q: Excluding conversations that you may have had with Mr. Bennett or any of your attorneys in this case, within the past two weeks has anyone reported to you that they had had a conversation with Monica Lewinsky concerning this lawsuit?

WJC: I don't believe so. I'm sorry, I just don't believe so.

* * * *

Q. Has it ever been reported to you that [Vernon Jordan] met with Monica Lewinsky and talked about this case?

WJC: I knew that he met with her. I think Betty suggested that he meet with her. Anyway, he met with her. I, I thought that he talked to her about something else. I didn't know that -- I thought he had given her some advice about her move to New York. Seems like that's what Betty said.(364)

B. Evidence That Contradicts the President's Civil Deposition Testimony

Vernon Jordan testified that his conversations with the President about Ms. Lewinsky's subpoena were, in fact, "a continuing dialogue."(365) When asked if he had kept the President informed about Ms. Lewinsky's status in the Jones case in addition to her job search, Mr. Jordan responded: "The two -- absolutely."(366)

On December 19, Ms. Lewinsky phoned Mr. Jordan and told him that she had been subpoenaed in the Jones case.(367) Following that call, Mr. Jordan telephoned the President to inform him "that Monica Lewinsky was coming to see me, and that she had a subpoena"(368) -- but the President was unavailable.(369) Later that day, at 5:01 p.m., Mr. Jordan had a seven-minute telephone conversation with the President:(370)

I said to the President, "Monica Lewinsky called me up. She's upset. She's gotten a subpoena. She is coming to see me about this subpoena. I'm confident that she needs a lawyer, and I will try to get her a lawyer."(371)

Later on December 19, after meeting with Ms. Lewinsky, Mr. Jordan went to the White House and met with the President alone in the Residence.(372) Mr. Jordan testified: "I told him that Monica Lewinsky had been subpoenaed, came to me with a subpoena."(373) According to Mr. Jordan, the President "thanked me for my efforts to get her a job and thanked me for getting her a lawyer."(374)

   


According to Mr. Jordan, on January 7, 1998, Ms. Lewinsky showed him a copy of her signed affidavit denying any sexual relationship with the President.(375) He testified that he told the President about the affidavit, probably in one of his two logged calls to the White House that day:(376)

Q: [W]alk us through what exactly you would have said on the portion of the conversation that related to Ms. Lewinsky and the affidavit.

VJ: Monica Lewinsky signed the affidavit.

* * * *

Q: [L]et's say if it was January 7th, or whenever it was that you informed him that she signed the affidavit,(377) is it accurate that based on the conversations you had with him already, you didn't have to explain to him what the affidavit was?

VJ: I think that's a reasonable assumption.

Q: So that it would have made sense that you would have just said, "She signed the affidavit," because both you and he knew what the affidavit was?

VJ: I think that's a reasonable assumption.

Q: All right. When you indicated to the President that she had signed the affidavit, what, if anything, did he tell you?

VJ: I think he -- his judgment was consistent with mine that that was -- the signing of the affidavit was consistent with the truth.(378)

Mr. Jordan testified that "I knew that the President was concerned about the affidavit and whether or not it was signed. He was, obviously."(379) When asked why he believed the President was concerned, Mr. Jordan testified:

Here is a friend of his who is being called as a witness in another case and with whom I had gotten a lawyer, I told him about that, and told him I was looking for a job for her. He knew about all of that. And it was just a matter of course that he would be concerned as to whether or not she had signed an affidavit foreswearing what I told you the other day, that there was no sexual relationship.(380)

Mr. Jordan summarized his contacts with the President about Monica Lewinsky and her involvement in the Jones litigation as follows:

I made arrangements for a lawyer and I told the President that. When she signed the affidavit, I told the President that the affidavit had been signed and when Frank Carter told me that he had filed a motion to quash, as I did in the course of everything else, I said to the President that I saw Frank Carter and he had informed me that he was filing a motion to quash. It was as a simple information flow, absent a substantive discussion about her defense, about which I was not involved.(381)

The President himself testified in the grand jury that he talked to Mr. Jordan about Ms. Lewinsky's involvement in the case. Despite his earlier statements at the deposition, the President testified to the grand jury that he had no reason to doubt that he had talked to Mr. Jordan about Ms. Lewinsky's subpoena, her lawyer, and her affidavit.(382)

C. Summary

In his civil deposition, the President stated that he had talked to Vernon Jordan about Ms. Lewinsky's job. But as the testimony of Mr. Jordan reveals, and as the President as much as conceded in his subsequent grand jury appearance,(383) the President did talk to Mr. Jordan about Ms. Lewinsky's involvement in the Jones case -- including that she had been subpoenaed, that Mr. Jordan had helped her obtain a lawyer, and that she had signed an affidavit denying a sexual relationship with the President. Given their several communications in the weeks before the deposition, it is not credible that the President forgot the subject of their conversations during his civil deposition. His statements "seems like that's what Betty said" and "I didn't know that" were more than mere omissions; they were affirmative misstatements.

The President's motive for making false and misleading statements about this subject in his civil deposition was straightforward. If the President admitted that he had talked with Vernon Jordan both about Monica Lewinsky's involvement in the Jones case and about her job, questions would inevitably arise about whether Ms. Lewinsky's testimony and her future job were connected. Such an admission by the President in his civil deposition likely would have prompted Ms. Jones's attorneys to inquire further into the subject. And such an admission in his deposition would have triggered public scrutiny when the deposition became public.

At the time of his deposition, moreover, the President was aware of the potential problems in admitting any possible link between those two subjects. A criminal investigation and substantial public attention had focused in 1997 on job assistance and payments made to Webster Hubbell in 1994. The jobs and money paid to Mr. Hubbell by friends and contributors to the President had raised serious questions about whether such assistance was designed to influence Mr. Hubbell's testimony about Madison-related matters.(384) Some of Mr. Hubbell's jobs, moreover, had been arranged by Vernon Jordan, which was likely a further deterrent to the President raising both Ms. Lewinsky's job and her affidavit in connection with Vernon Jordan.



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