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From the Starr Referral:
Clinton's Grand Jury Testimony, Part 1

The following material was submitted by independent counsel Kenneth Starr with his report to the House on President Clinton. This document provided by Federal News Service. Editor's Note: Some of the language in these documents is sexually explicit.

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For the Independent Counsel: Kenneth W. Starr, Independent Counsel; Jackie M. Bennett Jr., Robert J. Bittman and Solomon L. Wisenberg, deputy independent counsels; Michael W. Emmick, Mary Anne Wirth, and Bernard J. Apperson, associate independent counsels,

For the President: David E. Kendall and Nicole Seligman, of Williams & Connolly; Charles F.C. Ruff, counsel to the president.


MR. APPERSON: Mr. Wisenberg, the grand jury is in session. There is a quorum. There are no unauthorized persons in the grand jury room and they are prepared to receive the testimony of the President.

MR. WISENBERG: Thank you, Mr. Apperson. If we could proceed with the oath, please? WHEREUPON, William Jefferson Clinton, having been called for examination by the Independent Counsel, and having been first duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows:

EXAMINATION BY THE INDEPENDENT COUNSEL

BY MR. WISENBERG:

Q: Good afternoon, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Good afternoon.

Q: Could you please state your full name for the record, sir?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: William Jefferson Clinton.

Q: My name is Sol Wisenberg and I'm a Deputy Independent Counsel with the Office of Independent Counsel. With me today are some other attorneys from the Office of Independent Counsel.

At the courtroom are the ladies and gentlemen of the grand jury prepared to receive your testimony as you give it. Do you understand, sir?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Yes, I do.

Q: This proceeding is subject to Rule 6(e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure as modified by Judge Johnson's order. You are appearing voluntarily today as a part of an agreement worked out between your attorney, the Office of the Independent Counsel, and with the approval of Judge Johnson.

Is that correct, sir?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: That is correct.

MR. KENDALL: Mr. Wisenberg, excuse me. You referred to Judge Johnson's order. I'm not familiar with that order. Have we been served that, or not?

MR. WISENBERG: No. My understanding is that that is an order that the Judge is going to sign today. She didn't have the name of a WHCA person. And basically my understanding is that it will cover all of the attorneys here today and the technical people in the room, so that they will be authorized persons permitted to hear grand jury testimony that they otherwise wouldn't be authorize to hear.

MR. KENDALL: Thank you.

BY MR. WISENBERG:

Q: The grand jury, Mr. President, has been empaneled by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Do you understand that, sir?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I do.

Q: And, among other things, is currently investigating under the authority of the Court of Appeals upon application by the Attorney General, whether Monica Lewinsky or others obstructed justice, intimidated witnesses, or committed other crimes related to the case of Jones v. Clinton.

Do you understand that, sir?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I do.

Q: And today, you will be receiving questions not only from attorneys on the OIC staff, but from some of the grand jurors, too. Do you understand that?

   

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Yes, sir, I do.

Q: I'm going to talk briefly about your rights and responsibilities as a grand jury witness. Normally, grand jury witnesses, while not allowed to have attorneys in the grand jury room with them, can stop and consult with their attorneys. Under our arrangement today, your attorneys are here and present for consultation and you can break to consult with them as necessary, but it won't count against our total time.

Do you understand that, sir?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I do understand that.

Q: You have a privilege against self-incrimination. If a truthful answer to any question would tend to incriminate you, you can invoke the privilege and that invocation will not be used against you. Do you understand that?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I do.

Q: And if you don't invoke it, however, any answer that you do give can and will be used against you. Do you understand that, sir?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I do.

Q: Mr. President, you understand that your testimony here today is under oath?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I do.

Q: And do you understand that because you have sworn to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, that if you were to lie or intentionally mislead the grand jury, you could be prosecuted for perjury and/or obstruction of justice?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I believe that's correct.

Q: Is there anything that you – I've stated to you regarding your rights and responsibilities that you would like me to clarify or that you don't understand?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: No, sir.

Q: Mr. President, I would like to read for you a portion of Federal Rule of Evidence 603, which discusses the important function the oath has in our judicial system. It says that the purpose of the oath is one, "calculated to awaken the witness' conscience and impress the witness' mind with the duty" to tell the truth.

Could you please tell the grand jury what that oath means to you for today's testimony?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I have sworn an oath to tell the grand jury the truth, and that's what I intend to do.

Q: You understand that it requires you to give the whole truth, that is, a complete answer to each question, sir?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I will answer each question as accurately and fully as I can.

Q: Now, you took the same oath to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth on January 17th, 1998 in a deposition in the Paula Jones litigation; is that correct, sir?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I did take an oath then.

Q: Did the oath you took on that occasion mean the same to you then as it does today?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I believed then that I had to answer the questions truthfully, that is correct.

Q: I'm sorry. I didn't hear you, sir.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I believed that I had to answer the questions truthfully. That's correct.

Q: And it meant the same to you then as it does today?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, no one read me a definition then and we didn't go through this exercise then. I swore an oath to tell the truth, and I believed I was bound to be truthful and I tried to be.

Q: At the Paula Jones deposition, you were represented by Mr. Robert Bennett, your counsel, is that correct?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: That is correct.

Q: He was authorized by you to be your representative there, your attorney, is that correct?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: That is correct.

    Q: Your counsel, Mr. Bennett, indicated at page 5 of the deposition, lines 10 through 12, and I'm quoting, 'the President intends to give full and complete answers as Ms. Jones is entitled to have".

My question to you is, do you agree with your counsel that a plaintiff in a sexual harassment case is, to use his words, entitled to have the truth?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I believe that I was bound to give truthful answers, yes, sir.

Q: But the question is, sir, do you agree with your counsel that a plaintiff in a sexual harassment case is entitled to have the truth?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I believe when a witness is under oath in a civil case, or otherwise under oath, the witness should do everything possible to answer the questions truthfully.

MR. WISENBERG: I'm going to turn over questioning now to Mr. Bittman of our office, Mr. President.

BY MR. BITTMAN:

Q: Good afternoon, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Good afternoon, Mr. Bittman.

Q: My name is Robert Bittman. I'm an attorney with the Office of Independent Counsel.

Mr. President, we are first going to turn to some of the details of your relationship with Monica Lewinsky that follow up on your deposition that you provided in the Paula Jones case, as was referenced, on January 17th, 1998.

The questions are uncomfortable, and I apologize for that in advance. I will try to be as brief and direct as possible.

Mr. President, were you physically intimate with Monica Lewinsky?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Mr. Bittman, I think maybe I can save the – you and the grand jurors a lot of time if I read a statement, which I think will make it clear what the nature of my relationship with Ms. Lewinsky was and how it related to the testimony I gave, what I was trying to do in that testimony. And I think it will perhaps make it possible for you to ask even more relevant questions from your point of view. And, with your permission, I'd like to read that statement.

Q: Absolutely. Please, Mr. President.

 ... I regret that what began as a friendship came to include this conduct and I take full responsibility for my actions. ...

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PRESIDENT CLINTON: 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. These encounters did not consist of sexual intercourse. They did not constitute sexual relations as I understood that term to be defined at my January 17th, 1998 deposition. But they did involve inappropriate intimate contact. These inappropriate encounters ended, at my insistence, in early 1997. I also had occasional telephone conversations with Ms. Lewinsky that included inappropriate sexual banter. I regret that what began as a friendship came to include this conduct, and I take full responsibility for my actions. While I will provide the grand jury whatever other information I can, because of privacy considerations affecting my family, myself, and others, and in an effort to preserve the dignity of the office I hold, this is all I will say about the specifics of these particular matters. I will try to answer, to the best of my ability, other questions including questions about my relationship with Ms. Lewinsky; questions about my understanding of the term "sexual relations", as I understood it to be defined at my January 17th, 1998 deposition; and questions concerning alleged subornation of perjury, obstruction of justice, and intimidation of witnesses.

That, Mr. Bittman, is my statement.

Q: Thank you, Mr. President. And, with that, we would like to take a break.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Would you like to have this?

Q: Yes, please. As a matter of fact, why don't we have that marked as Grand Jury Exhibit WJC-1.

(Grand Jury Exhibit WJC-1 was marked for identification.)

PRESIDENT CLINTON: So, are we going to take a break?

MR. KENDALL: Yes. We will take a break. Can we have the camera off, now, please? And it's 1:14.

(Whereupon, the proceedings were recessed from 1:14 p.m. until 1:30 p.m.)

MR. KENDALL: 1:30, Bob.

MR. BITTMAN: It's 1:30 and we have the feed with the grand jury.

BY MR. BITTMAN:

Q: Good afternoon again, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Good afternoon, Mr. Bittman.

(Discussion off the record.)

BY MR. BITTMAN:

Q: Mr. President, your statement indicates that your contacts with Ms. Lewinsky did not involve any inappropriate, intimate contact.

MR. KENDALL: Mr. Bittman, excuse me. The witness –

PRESIDENT CLINTON: No, sir. It indicates –

MR. KENDALL: The witness does not have –

PRESIDENT CLINTON: – that it did involve inappropriate and intimate contact.

BY MR. BITTMAN:

Q: Pardon me. That it did involve inappropriate, intimate contact.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Yes, sir, it did.

MR. KENDALL: Mr. Bittman, the witness – the witness does not have a copy of the statement. We just have the one copy.

MR. BITTMAN: If he wishes –

MR. KENDALL: Thank you.

MR. BITTMAN: – his statement back?

BY MR. BITTMAN:

Q: Was this contact with Ms. Lewinsky, Mr. President, did it involve any sexual contact in any way, shape, or form?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Mr. Bittman, I said in this statement I would like to stay to the terms of the statement. I think it's clear what inappropriately intimate is. I have said what it did not include. I – it did not include sexual intercourse, and I do not believe it included conduct which falls within the definition I was given in the Jones deposition. And I would like to stay with that characterization.

Q: Let us then move to the definition that was provided you during your deposition, we will have that marked as Grand Jury Exhibit WJC-2.

(Grand Jury Exhibit WJC-2 was marked for identification.)

BY MR. BITTMAN:

Q: This is an exact copy, Mr. President, of the exhibit that was provided you during that deposition. And I'm sure you remember from the deposition that paragraph (1) of the definition remained in effect. Judge Wright ruled that that was to be the guiding definition, and that

paragraphs (2) and (3) were stricken. Do you remember that, Mr. President?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Yes. Specifically what I remember is there were two different discussions, I think, of this. There was quite an extended one in the beginning, and everybody was entering into it. And in the end, the Judge said that she would take the first definition and strike the rest of it. That's my memory.

Q: Did you – well, at page 19 of your deposition in that case, the attorney who provided you with the definition asked you, "Would you please take whatever time you need to read this definition". And later on in the deposition, you did, of course, refer to the definition several times. Were you, during the deposition, familiar with the definition?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Yes, sir. My – let me just ask a question. If you are going to ask me about my deposition, could I have a copy of it? Does anybody have a copy of it?

Q: Yes. We have a copy. We'll provide you with a copy.

MS. WIRTH: We will mark it as Grand Jury Exhibit WJC- 3.

(Grand Jury Exhibit WJC-3 was marked for identification.)

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Now, did you say that was on page 19, Mr. Bittman?

BY MR. BITTMAN:

Q: It was at page 19, Mr. President, beginning at line 21, and I'll read it in full. This is from the Jones attorney. "Would you please take whatever time you need to read this definition, because when I use the term 'sexual relations', this is what I mean today."

PRESIDENT CLINTON: All right. Yes, that starts on 19. But let me say that there is a – just for the record, my recollection was accurate. There is a long discussion here between the attorney and the Judge. It goes on until page 23. And in the end the Judge says, "I'm talking only about part one in the definition", and "Do you understand that"? And I answer, "I do."

The judge says part one, and then the lawyer for Ms. Jones says he's only talking about part one and asked me if I understand it. And I say, I do, and that was my understanding.

I might also note that when I was given this and began to ask questions about it, actually circled number one. This is my circle here. I remember doing that so I could focus only on those two lines, which is what I did.

Q: Did you understand the words in the first portion of the exhibit, Mr. President, that is, "For the purposes of this deposition, a person engages in 'sexual relations' when the person knowingly engages in or causes"?

Did you understand, do you understand the words there in that phrase?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Yes. My – I can tell you what my understanding of the definition is, if you want me to –

Q: Sure.

A: – do it. My understanding of this definition is it covers contact by the person being deposed with the enumerated areas, if the contact is done with an intent to arouse or gratify. That's my understanding of the definition.

Q: What did you believe the definition to include and exclude? What kinds of activities?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I thought the definition included any activity by the person being deposed, where the person was the actor and came in contact with those parts of the bodies with the purpose or intent or gratification, and excluded any other activity. For example, kissing is not covered by that, I don't think.

Q: Did you understand the definition to be limited to sexual activity?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Yes, I understood the definition to be limited to, to physical contact with those areas of the bodies with the specific intent to arouse or gratify. That's what I understood it to be.

Q: What specific acts did the definition include, as you understood the definition on January 17, 1998?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Any contact with the areas there mentioned, sir. If you contacted, if you contacted those parts of the body with an intent to arouse or gratify, that is covered.

Q: What did you understand –

PRESIDENT CLINTON: The person being deposed. If the person being deposed contacted those parts of another person's body with an intent to arouse or gratify, that was covered.

Q: What did you understand the word "causes", in the first phrase? That is, "For the purposes of this deposition, a person engaged in 'sexual relations' when the person knowingly" causes contact?

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Copyright © 1998 by Federal News Service, Inc. No portion of this transcript may be copied, sold or retransmitted without the written authority of Federal News Service, Inc. Copyright is not claimed as to any part of the original work prepared by a United States government officer or employee as a part of that person's original duties. Transcripts of other events may be found at the Federal News Service Web site, located at www.fnsg.com.

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