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From the Starr Referral:
Clinton's Grand Jury Testimony, Part 12

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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Q: Okay.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: It was – I had – my main difference, Judge Starr, as you know with you, is, and with some of the Court decisions, is on the extent to which members of the White House Counsel's staff, like Mr. Lindsey, should be able to counsel the President on matters that may seem like they are private, like the Jones case, but inevitably intrude on the daily work of the President.

But I didn't really want to advance an executive privilege claim in this case beyond having it litigated, so that we, we had not given up on principal this matter, without having some judge rule on it. So, I made –

Q: Excuse me. And you are satisfied that you now have the benefit of that ruling, is that correct?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, yes. I just didn't want to, I didn't want to – yes. And I didn't – I made the – I actually, I think, made the call, or at least I supported the call. I did not, I strongly felt we should not appeal your victory on the executive privilege issue.

MR. STARR: Thank you.

BY MR. WISENBERG:

Q: Mr. President, among the many remaining questions of the grand jurors is one that they would like answered directly without relation to, without regard to inferences, which is the following: Did Monica Lewinsky perform oral sex on you? They would like a direct answer to that, yes or no?

 That's not the first time that question has been asked ... I'm not going to answer except to refer to my statement.
Clinton responds to question about sexual relations


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PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, that's not the first time that question's been asked. But since I believe, and I think any person, reasonable person would believe that that is not covered in the definition of sexual relations I was given, I'm not going to answer, except to refer to my statement.

I had intimate contact with her that was inappropriate. I do not believe any of the contacts I had with her violated the definition I was given. Therefore, I believe I did not do anything but testify truthfully on these matters.

Q: We have a couple of photos of the tie that you wore.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Would you please give them to me?

Q: Yes.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Now, this is August 6th, is that correct?

Q: 1998, the day that Monica Lewinsky appeared at the grand jury. And my question to you on that is, were you sending some kind of a signal to her by wearing –

PRESIDENT CLINTON: No, sir.

Q: – one of the ties – let me finish, if you don't mind, sir.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Sure. I'm sorry. My apology.

Q: Were you sending some kind of a signal to her by wearing a tie she had given you on the day that she appeared in front of the grand jury?

   

PRESIDENT CLINTON: No, sir. I don't believe she gave me this tie. And if I was sending a signal, I'm about to send a terrible signal, and maybe you ought to invite her to talk again. I don't, I don't want to make light about this. I don't believe she gave me this tie. I don't remember giving, her giving me this tie. And I had absolutely no thought of this in my mind when I wore it.

If she did, I, I, I, I don't remember it, and this is the very first I've ever heard of it.

Q: Did you realize when you –

MR. WISENBERG: Can I just have for the record, what are the exhibit numbers?

MS. WIRTH: Yes. They should be WJC-5 and 6.

(Grand Jury Exhibits WJC-5 and WJC-6 were marked for identification.)

MR. WISENBERG: Mr. Bennett has some more questions.

BY MR. BENNETT:

Q: Mr. President, we were talking about your responses to document requests in the Jones litigation, and I had just asked you about turning over the Kathleen Willey correspondence. Do you recall that?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Yes, sir, I do.

Q: And, if I understand your testimony, you did not believe that the request for documents compelled you to search for those documents in the White House?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Mr. Bennett, I want to answer this question in a way that is completely satisfactory to you and the grand jury, without violating the lawyer/client privilege, which is still intact.

It was my understanding that in the request for production of documents, that those requests ran against and operated against my personal files. Now, I have some personal files in the White House. And, I'm sorry. In this case I'm not my own lawyer, and I don't know how the distinction is made between files which are the personal files of the President, and files which are White House files.

But I do have a very clear memory that we were duty-bound to search and turn over evidence or, excuse me, documents that were in my personal file, but not in the White House files. And I believe that the letters to which you refer, Ms. Willey's letters and Ms. Willey's phone messages, were in the White House files. And, therefore, I was instructed at least that they were, that we had fully compiled with the Jones lawyers' request, and that these documents were outside the request.

    Q: Mr. President, you're not contending that White House documents, documents stored in the fashion that these were stored, are beyond your care, custody or control, are you?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Mr. Bennett, that may be a legal term of art that I don't have the capacity to answer. I can only tell you what I remember. I remember being told in no uncertain terms that if these were personal files of the President, we had to produce documents. If they were essentially White House files, we were not bound to do so. So, we didn't.

Q: So, you are saying somebody told you that you didn't have to produce White House documents?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: That's –

MR. KENDALL: I'm going to caution the witness that this question should not invade the sphere of the attorney/client privilege, and any conversations with counsel are privileged.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Let me say, and maybe, Mr. Kendall, we need a break here. I'm not trying – I'm trying to avoid invading the lawyer/client Privilege.

I can just tell you that I did, I did the best I could to comply with this. And eventually we did make, of course, all of this public. And it was damaging to Ms. Willey and her credibility. It was terribly damaging to her. And the first time she came out with this story, I didn't do it. I only did it when they went back on "60 Minutes" and they made this big deal of it.

It turned out she had tried to sell this story and make all this money. And, I must say, when I saw how many letters and phone calls and messages there were that totally undercut her account, I myself, was surprised.

BY MR. BENNETT:

Q: But you knew there were letters?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I did, sir.

Q: And the White House –

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I knew that –

Q: – is under your control, isn't it, Mr. President?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, Mr. Bennett, again, I'm not trying to be – some days I think it's under my control and some days I'm not so sure.

But, if you're asking me, as a matter of law, I don't want to discuss that because that's – I mean, I'll be glad to discuss it, but I'm not the person who should make that decision. That decision should be made by someone who can give me appropriate advice, and I don't want to violate the lawyer/client privilege here.

Q: Well, Mr. President, how are the letters from Kathleen Willey that surfaced after the "60 Minutes" episode aired any different from the correspondence and other matters, tangible items, tangible things, of Monica Lewinsky?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, the items you asked for from Monica Lewinsky that I produced to you, you know that there was a tie, a coffee cup, a number of other things I had. Then I told you there were some things that had been in my possession that I no longer had, I believe. I don't remember if I did that. There was one book, I remember, that I left on vacation last summer.

Q: The same documents that the Jones litigants had asked you for?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Yes. But, at any rate, they were different. They were in my – the gifts were in my personal possession, clearly.

Q: In your office at the Oval?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, in the books, now, the Presidential books were with my other books that belong to me personally. They were in the Oval.

Q: Where do you draw the line, sir, between personal and White House? Now, you are talking about some documents that are in the Oval Office and we don't see where you are drawing the line.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, Mr. Bennett, I don't think these – I think the Lewinsky gifts were all non-documents. And you can –

MR. KENDALL: Is that the time?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Just a moment.

MR. KENDALL: Excuse me, Mr. Bennett.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, I'd like to –

MR. KENDALL: You've got thirty more seconds.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: – finish answering the question, please, because this is a legitimate question, I think.

There is somebody in the White House, Mr. Bennett, who can answer your question, and you could call them up and they could answer it, under oath, for you. There is some way of desegregating what papers are personal to the President and what papers are part of the White House official archives papers. And I don't know how the distinction is made. just don't know.

BY MR. BENNETT:

Q: Did you direct personnel, Nancy Hernreich or anyone else, to make a search for correspondence from Kathleen Willey and Monica Lewinsky when those documents were called for in the Jones litigation, sir? Did you direct that somebody on the White House staff look for those documents?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I don't believe that I was in charge of doing that, the document search, sir. So, the strict answer to that question is that I didn't.

Q: So, you sat back and relied on this legalistic distinction between your personal, which you are in control of, and the White House which, by the way, you are also in control of; is that not correct?

MR. KENDALL: I won't object to the argumentative form of the question. We'll allow the witness to answer it. We're now over time, even the 30 seconds. So, this will be it.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Mr. Bennett, I haven't said this all day long, but I would like to say it now.

Most of my time and energy in the last five and a half years have been devoted to my job. Now, during that five and a half years, I have also had to contend with things no previous President has ever had to contend with: a lawsuit that was dismissed for lack of legal merit, but that cost me a fortune and was designed to embarrass me; this independent counsel inquiry, which has gone on a very long time and cost a great deal of money, and about which serious questions have been raised; and a number of other things.

And, during this whole time, I have tried as best I could to keep my mind on the job the American people gave me. I did not make the legal judgment about how the documents were decided upon that should be given to the Jones lawyers, and ones that shouldn't.

And, I might add that Ms. Willey would have been very happy that these papers were not turned over, because they damaged her credibility so much, had they not ultimately been turned over after she made, I think, the grievous error of going on "60 Minutes" and saying all those things that were not true.

But I did not make the decision, it was not my job. This thing is being managed by other people, I was trying to do my job.

BY MR. BENNETT:

Q: Mr. President, the grand jury, I am notified, still has unanswered questions of you, and we appeal to you again to make yourself available to answer those questions.

MR. KENDALL: Mr. Bennett, our agreement was for four hours and we have not counted the break time against that, and I think that will be –

PRESIDENT CLINTON: You know, Mr. Bennett, I wish I could do it. I wish the grand jurors had been allowed to come here today as we invited them to do. I wanted them down here. I wanted them to be able to see me directly. I wanted them to be able to ask these questions directly. But, we made an agreement that was different, and I think I will go ahead and stick with the terms of it.

BY MR. BENNETT:

Q: The invitation was made after there was political fallout over the deposition circumstances with the satellite transmission and the taping. Isn't that so?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I don't know about the taping, Mr. Bennett. I understood that the prospect of the grand jurors coming down here was raised fairly early. I don't know.

Q: Just for the record –

PRESIDENT CLINTON: But, anyway, I wish they could have. I respect the grand jury. I respect the –

MR. WISENBERG: Just for the record, the invitation to the grand jury was contingent upon us not videotaping, and we had to videotape because we have an absent grand juror.

MR KENDALL: Is that the only reason, Mr. Wisenberg, you have to videotape?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, yes. Do you want to answer that?

MR. BITTMAN: Thank you, Mr. President.

(Whereupon, at 6:25 p.m., the proceedings were concluded.)

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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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