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From the Starr Referral:
Clinton's Grand Jury Testimony, Part 10

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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PRESIDENT CLINTON: That's correct. But, keep in mind, sir, I was talking about 1997. That occurred, to the – and I believe that occurred only once in February of 1997. I stopped it. I never should have started it, and I certainly shouldn't have started it back after I resolved not to in 1996. And I was referring to 1997.

And I – what – as I say, I do not know – her memory and mine may be somewhat different. I do not know whether I was asking her about a particular time when Monica was upset and I asked her to stand, stay back in the dining area. Or whether I was, had reference to the fact that if she kept the door open to the Oval Office because it was always – the door to the hallway was always somewhat open, that she would always be able to hear something if anything went on that was, you know, too loud, or whatever.

I do not know what I meant. I'm just trying to reconcile the two statements as best I can, without being sure.

Q: There was at least one event where Mrs. Currie was definitely not even in the Oval Office area, isn't that right? And I think you began to testify about that before. That was at the radio address.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I'm not sure of that. But in that case, there was, there was certainly someone else there. I don't know –

Q: Well, why would you be testing Mrs. Currie's memory about whether someone else was there?


PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, I can say this. If I'm in the Oval Office – my belief is that there was someone else there, somewhere in the Oval Office complex. I've looked at our – I've looked at the film. This, this night has become legendary now, you know. I've looked at the, I've looked at the film we have. I've looked at my schedules. I've seen the people that were at the radio address. I do believe that I was alone with her from 15 to 20 minutes. I do believe that things happened then which were inappropriate. I don't remember whether Betty was there or not, but I can't imagine that, since all this happened more or less continuously in that time period, there must have been someone who was working around the radio address who stayed around somewhere. That would be my guess. I don't know. I'm sorry. I don't have records about who it would be. But I doubt very seriously if we were all alone in that Oval Office complex then.

Q: Mr. President, if there is a semen stain belonging to you on a dress of Ms. Lewinsky's, how would you explain that?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, Mr. Bittman, I, I don't – first of all, when you asked me for a blood test, I gave you one promptly. You came over here and got it. That's – we met that night and talked. So, that's a question you already know the answer to. Not if, but you know whether.

And the main thing I can tell you is that doesn't affect the opening statement I made. The opening statement I made is that I had inappropriate intimate contact. I take full responsibility for it. It wasn't her fault, it was mine. I do not believe that I violated the definition of sexual relations I was given by directly touching those parts of her body with the intent to arouse or gratify. And that's all I have to say. I think, for the rest, you know, you know what the evidence is and it doesn't affect that statement.

Q: Is it possible or impossible that your semen is on a dress belonging to Ms. Lewinsky?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I have nothing to add to my statement about it, sir. You, you know whether – you know what the facts are. There's no point in a hypothetical.

Q: Don't you know what the facts are also, Mr. President?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I have nothing to add to my statement, sir.

Q: Getting back to the conversation you had with Mrs. Currie on January 18th, you told her – if she testified that you told her, Monica came on to me and I never touched her, you did, in fact, of course, touch Ms. Lewinsky, isn't that right, in a physically intimate way?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Now, I've testified about that. And that's one of those questions that I believe is answered by the statement that I made.

Q: What was your purpose in making these statements to Mrs. Curtis, if they weren't for the purpose to try to suggest to her what she should say if ever asked?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Now, Mr. Bittman, I told you, the only thing I remember is when all this stuff blew up, I was trying to figure out what the facts were. I was trying to remember. I was trying to remember every time I had seen Ms. Lewinsky. Once this thing was in Drudge, and there was this argument about whether it was or was not going to be in Newsweek, that was a clear signal to me, because Newsweek, frankly, was – had become almost a sponsoring media outlook for the Paula Jones case, and had a journalist who had been trying, so far fruitlessly, to find me in some sort of wrongdoing. And so I knew this was all going to come out. I was trying – I did not know at the time – I will say again, I did not know that any of you were involved. I did not know that the Office of Independent Counsel was involved. And I was trying to get the facts and try to think of the best defense we could construct in the face of what I thought was going to be a media onslaught. Once you became involved, I told Betty Currie not to worry, that, that she had been through a terrible time. She had lost her brother. She had lost her sister. Her mother was in the hospital. I said, Betty, just don't worry about me. Just relax, go in there and tell the truth. You'll be fine. Now, that's all there was in this context.

Q: Did the conversations that you had with Mrs. Currie, this conversation, did it refresh your recollection as to events involving Ms. Lewinsky?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, as I remember, I do believe, in fairness, that, you know, she may have felt some ambivalence about how to react, because there were some times when she seemed to say yes, when I'm not sure she meant yes. There was a time – it seems like there was one or two things where she said, well, remember this, that or the other thing, which did reflect my recollection. So, I would say a little yes, and a little no.

Q: Why was it then that two or three days later, given that The Washington Post article came out on January 21st, why would you have had another conversation with Betty Currie asking or making the exact same statements to her?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I don't know that I did. I remember having this one time. I was, I was – I don't know that I did.

Q: If Mrs. Currie says you did, are you disputing that?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: No, sir, I'm not disputing –

MR. KENDALL: Excuse me. Is your representation that she testified that that conversation was – when?

MR. BITTMAN: I'm not making a representation as to what Mrs. Currie said. I'm asking the President if Mrs. Currie testified two or three days later, that two or three days after the conversation with the President on January 18th, that he called her into the Oval Office and went over the exact same statements that the President made to her on the 18th.


Q: Is that accurate? Is that a truthful statement by Mrs. Currie if she made it?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I do not remember how many times I talked to Betty Currie or when. I don't. I can't possibly remember that. I do remember, when I first heard about this story breaking, trying to ascertain what the facts were, trying to ascertain what Betty's perception was. I remember that I was highly agitated, understandably, I think. And then I remember when I knew she was going to have to testify to the grand jury, and I, I felt terrible because she had been through this loss of her sister, this horrible accident Christmas that killed her brother, and her mother was in the hospital. I was trying to do – to make her understand that I didn't want her to, to be untruthful to the grand jury. And if her memory was different from mine, it was fine, just go in there and tell them what she thought. So, that's all I remember.


Q: Mr. President, my name is Jackie Bennett. If I understand your current line of testimony, you are saying that your only interest in speaking with Ms. Currie in the days after your deposition was to refresh your own recollection?


Q: It was not to impart instructions on how she was to recall things in the future?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: No, and certainly not under oath. That – every day, Mr. Bennett, in the White House and in every other political organization when you are subject to a barrage of press questions of any kind, you always try to make the best case you can consistent with the facts; that is, while being truthful. But – so, I was concerned for a day or two there about this as a press story only. I had no idea you were involved in it for a couple of days. I think Betty Currie's testimony will be that I gave her explicit instructions or encouragement to just go in the grand jury and tell the truth. That's what I told her to do and I thought she would.

Q: Mr. President, when did you learn about the Drudge Report reporting allegations of you having a sexual relationship with someone at the White House?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I believe it was the morning of the 18th, I think.

Q: What time of day, sir?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I have no idea.

Q: Early morning hours?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Yeah, I think somebody called me and told me about it. Maybe Bruce, maybe someone else. I'm not sure. But I learned early on the 18th of the Drudge Report.

Q: Very early morning hours, sir?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Now, my deposition was on the 17th, is that right?

Q: On Saturday, the 17th sir.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Yeah, I think it was when I got up Sunday morning, I think. Maybe it was late Saturday night. I don't remember.

Q: Did you call Betty Currie, sir, after the Drudge Report hit the wire?


Q: Did you call her at home?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I did. Was that the night of the 17th?

Q: Night of the 17th, early morning hours of the 18th?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Okay, yes. That's because – yes. I worked with Prime Minister Netanyahu that night until about midnight.


PRESIDENT CLINTON: Isn't that right?

MR. KENDALL: Excuse me. I think the question is directed – Mr. Bennett, if you could help out by putting the day of the week, I think that would be helpful.


Q: Saturday night, Sunday morning.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Yes. I called Betty Currie as soon – I think about as soon as I could, after I finished with Prime Minister Netanyahu, and in the aftermath of that meeting planning where we were going next in the Middle East peace process.

MR. KENDALL: Can we take a two-minute break, please?

MR. BITTMAN: May I ask one other question first, Mr. Kendall?

MR. KENDALL: Certainly. I think the witness is confused on dates. That's all.


PRESIDENT CLINTON: That's what – I didn't think it was the night of the 17th.

MR. KENDALL: Mr. President, I think we'll do it in a break.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Can we have a break and I could get straightened out?

MR. BITTMAN: Sure. May I ask one other quick – this is a question I forgot to ask from the grand jurors.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I don't want to get mixed up on these dates now. Go ahead.


Q: This is – they wanted to know whether, they want us to clarify that the President's knowledge, your knowledge, Mr. President, as to the approach to our office this morning; that is, we were told that you would give a general statement about the nature of your relationship with Ms. Lewinsky, which you have done. Yet that you would – you did not want to go in any of the details about the relationship. And that if we pressed on going into the details, that you would object to going into the details. And the grand jurors, before they wanted, they wanted to vote on some other matters, they wanted to know whether you were aware of that? That we were told that?

MR. KENDALL: Well, Mr. Bittman, who told you that? This is, this is, this is not a fair question, when you say you were told. Who told you?

MR. BITTMAN: Who told me what, the question?

MR. KENDALL: You said, you said the grand jury was told.

MR. BITTMAN: We have kept the grand jury informed, as we normally would, of the proceedings here.

MR. KENDALL: Right. And, I'm sorry. Who, who are you representing told you or the grand jurors anything? Is that, is that our conversation?


MR. STARR: Yes, our conversation.

MR. BITTMAN: Yes. That was in substance related to the grand jurors.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: And what's your question to me, Mr. Bittman?


Q: Whether you were aware of the facts that I just described?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Yes, sir. Let me say this. I knew that Mr. Kendall was going to talk with Judge Starr. What we wanted to do was to be as helpful as we could to you on the question of whether you felt I was being truthful, when I said I did not have sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky, as defined in that definition (1) in this, in my testimony.

And I thought the best way to do that, and still preserve some measure of privacy and dignity, would be to invite all of you and the grand jurors to ask, well, would you consider this, that, or the other thing covered by the definition. You asked me several questions there, and I did my best to answer whether I thought they were covered by the definition, and said if I thought they were covered, you could conclude from that that my testimony is I did not do them.

If those things, if things are not covered by the definition, and I don't believe they are covered, then I could not – then they shouldn't be within this discussion one way or the other.

Now, I know this is somewhat unusual. But I would say to the grand jury, put yourself in my position. This is not a typical grand jury testimony. I, I have to assume a report is going to Congress. There's a videotape being made of this, allegedly because only one member of the grand jury is absent. This is highly unusual. And, in addition to that, I have sustained a breathtaking number of leaks of grand jury proceedings.

And, so, I think I am right to answer all the questions about perjury, but not to say things which will be forever in the historic annals of the United States because of this unprecedented videotape and may be leaked at any time. I just think it's a mistake.

And, so, I'm doing my best to cooperate, with the grand jury and still protect myself, my family, and my office.

MR. BITTMAN: Thank you.

MR. KENDALL: This will be two minutes.

(Whereupon, the proceedings were recessed from 5:37 p.m. until 5:43 p.m.)


Q: Mr. President, before we broke, we were talking about the sequencing of your conversations with Betty Currie following your deposition on Saturday, January 17th. Do you recall that?


Q: All right. And you recall contacting Betty Currie, calling her and instructing her on the evening of Saturday night, after your deposition, and telling her to come in the next day?


Q: Sunday was normally her day off, isn't that so?


Q: And so you were making special arrangements for her to come back into the White House, isn't that so?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, yes. I asked her to come back in and talk to me.

Q: And it was at that time that you spoke with her, and Mr. Bittman and Mr. Wisenberg have asked you questions about what you said in that conversation, isn't that so?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Yes, they have – I don't know whether that's time, but they – I did talk to her as soon as I realized that the deposition had become more about Monica Lewinsky than Paula Jones. I asked her, you know, if she knew anything about this. I said, you know, it's obvious that this is going to be a matter of press speculation, and I was trying to go through the litany of what had happened between us, and asked some questions.

Q: On fairness, it would be more than a matter of simple press speculation, isn't that so? Mr. President, there was a question about whether you had testified fully, completely, and honestly on the preceding day in your deposition.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, actually, Mr. Bennett, I didn't think about that then. I – this has been a rather unprecedented development, and I wasn't even thinking about the Independent Counsel getting into this. So, at that moment, I knew nothing about it and I was more interested in what the facts were and whether Ms. Currie knew anything about it, knew anything about what Monica Lewinsky knew about it.

Q: Mr. President, you've told us at least a little bit about your understanding of how the term sexual relations was used, and what you understood it to mean in the context of your deposition. Isn't that correct?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: That is correct.

Q: And you've told us – I mean, that was a lawsuit Paula Jones filed in which she alleged that you asked her to perform oral sex, isn't that so?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: That was her allegation.

Q: That was her allegation. And, notwithstanding that that was her allegation, you've testified that you understood the term sexual relations, in the context of the questions you were being asked, to mean something else, at least insofar as you were the recipient rather than the performer?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Sir, Paula Jones' lawyers pulled out that definition, not me. And Judge Susan Webber wright ruled on it, just as she later ruled their case had no merit in the first place, no legal merit, and dismissed it. I had nothing to do with the definition. I had nothing to do with the Judge's rulings, I was simply there answering the questions they put to me, under the terms of reference they imposed.

Q: Well, the grand jury would like to know, Mr. President, why it is that you think that oral sex performed on you does not fall within the definition of sexual relations as used in your deposition.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Because that is – if the deponent is the person who has oral sex performed on him, then the contact is with – not with anything on that list, but with the lips of another person. It seems to be self-evident that that's what it is. And I thought it was curious.

Let me remind you, sir, I read this carefully. And I thought about it. I thought about what "contact" meant. I thought about what "intent to arouse or gratify" meant. And I had to admit under this definition that I'd actually had sexual relations with Gennifer Flowers. Now, I would rather have taken a whipping than done that, after all the trouble I'd been through with Gennifer Flowers, and the money I knew that she had made for the story she told about this alleged 12~-year affair, which we had done a great deal to disprove. So, I didn't like any of this. But I had done my best to deal with it and the – that's what I thought. And I think that's what most people would think, reading that.

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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

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