Clinton Accused Special Report
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Key Player:
Sidney Blumenthal

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White House communications strategist Sidney Blumenthal was a journalist until Bill Clinton brought him on in July 1997 as an "Assistant to the President."

Previously, Blumenthal had worked at the New Yorker magazine, The Washington Post, New Republic and Vanity Fair.

Unpopular with many of his former colleagues, who considered him too close to the Clintonites, Blumenthal briefly won some of their sympathy back in February when independent counsel Kenneth Starr subpoenaed him, in part to find out who was leaking negative stories about Starr's staff to the media.

Blumenthal reportedly answered questions about his contacts with the press, but declined to answer certain questions about confidential conversations within the White House. For several months, he and White House lawyers argued that those conversations were covered by executive privilege. That argument was dropped after Judge Norma Holloway Johnson ruled that executive privilege in this case was outweighed by Starr's need for information. Blumenthal was brought back before the grand jury on June 4.

Blumenthal is considered a close confidant of both the president and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, with whom he is said to share the theory that Starr is part of a "vast right-wing conspiracy" determined to bring down the president.

An unflinching partisan – he called Starr "a prosecutor on a mad mission from God" and a "constitutional illiterate" – Blumenthal has become the leading suspect among those who believe the White House is hatching dirty tricks to protect the president.

When Salon magazine reported a 30-year-old extramarital affair involving House Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry J. Hyde, Republicans were quick to blame Blumenthal. Blumenthal denied spreading the story.

"I am a strong advocate for the president and his ideas," he said. "And needless to say, that is also controversial."

Excerpts From Sidney Blumenthal's Testimony (Oct. 2, 1998)
Blumenthal, Giving as Good as He Gets (Sept. 25, 1998)
Hyde Story Stirs Hostilities (Sept. 18, 1998)
Starr Summons Blumenthal, Lawyer (June 4, 1998)
Blumenthal Testifies of Talking to Reporters (February 27, 1998)
The Clintons' Pen Pal (June 16, 1997)

(Updated October 2, 1998)

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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