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From the Starr Referral:
Clinton's Grand Jury Testimony, Part 5

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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Not that I was – I wasn't trying to give you a cute answer, that I was obviously not involved in anything improper during a deposition. I was trying to tell you that generally speaking in the present tense, if someone said that, that would be true. But I don't know what Mr. Bennett had in his mind. I don't know. I didn't pay any attention to this colloquy that went on. I was waiting for my instructions as a witness to go forward I was worried about my own testimony.

Q: I want to go back to some questions about Mr. Jordan and we are going to touch a little bit on the December 19th meeting and some others. Mr. Jordan is a long-time friend of yours, is that correct, Mr. President?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Yes, sir. We've been friends probably 20 years, maybe more.

Q: You said you consider him to be a truthful person, correct?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I do.

Q: If Mr. Jordan has told us that he visited you in the Residence on the night of the 19th, after a White House holiday dinner, to discuss Monica Lewinsky and her subpoena with you, do you have any reason to doubt it?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: No. I've never known him to say anything that wasn't true. And his memory, of these events, I think, would be better than mine because I had a lot of other things going on.

Q: We have WAVE records that will show that, but in the interest of time I'm not going to – since you don't dispute that, I'm not going to show them right now. And, in fact, that was the very day Monica Lewinsky was subpoenaed, wasn't it, the night that he came to see you?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I don't have an independent memory of that, but you would probably know that. I mean, I'm sure there is a record of when she got her subpoena.

Q: If Mr. Jordan has told us that he spoke with you over the phone within about an hour of Monica receiving her subpoena, and later visited you that very day, the night at the White House, to discuss it, again you'd have no reason doubt him, is that correct?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I've already – I believe I've already testified about that here today, that I had lots of conversations with Vernon. I'm sure that I had lots of conversations with him that included comments about this. And if he has a specific memory of when I had some ccnversation on a certain day, would be inclined to trust his memory over mine, because under the present circumstances my head's probably more cluttered than his, and my schedule is probably busier. He's probably got better records.

Q: And when Mr. Jordan met with you at the Residence that night, sir, he asked you if you'd been involved in a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky, didn't he?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I do not remember exactly what the nature of the conversation was. I do remember that I told him that there was no sexual relationship between me and Monica Lewinsky, which was true. And that – then all I remember for the rest is that he said he had referred her to a lawyer, and I believe it was Mr. Carter, and I don't believe I've ever met Mr. Carter. I don't think I know him.

Q: Mr. President, if Mr. Jordan has told us that he had a very disturbing conversation with Ms. Lewinsky that day, then went over to visit you at the White House, and that before he asked you the question about a sexual relationship, related that disturbing conversation to you, the conversation being that Ms. Lewinsky had a fixation on you and thought that perhaps the First Lady would leave you at the end of – that you would leave the First Lady at the end of your term and come be with Ms. Lewinsky, do you have any reason to doubt him that it was on that night that that conversation happened?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: All I can tell you, sir, is I, I certainly don't remember him saying that. Now, he could have said that because, as you know, a great many things happened in the ensuing two or three days. And I could have just forgotten it. But I don't remember him ever saying that.

Q: At any time?

   

PRESIDENT CLINTON: No, I don't remember him saying that. What I remember was that he said that Monica came to see him, that she was upset that she was going to have to testify, that he had referred her to a lawyer.

Q: In fact, she was very distraught about the subpoena, according to Mr. Jordan, wasn't she?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, he said she was upset about it. I don't remember – I don't remember any, at any time when he said this, this other thing you just quoted me. I'm sorry. I just don't remember that.

Q: That is something that one would be likely to remember, don't you think, Mr. President?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I think I would, and I'd be happy to share it with you if I did. I only had one encounter with Ms. Lewinsky, I seem to remember, which was somewhat maybe reminiscent of that. But not that, if you will, obsessive, if that's the way you want to use that word.

Q: Do you recall him at all telling you that he was concerned about her fascination with you, even if you don't remember the specific conversation about you leaving the First Lady?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I recall him saying he thought that she was upset with – somewhat fixated on me, that she acknowledged that she was not having a sexual relationship with me, and that she did not want to be drug into the Jones lawsuit. That's what I recall. And I recall his getting, saying that he had recommended a lawyer to her and she had gone to see the lawyer. That's what I recall.

I don't remember the other thing you mentioned. I just – I might well remember it if he had said it. Maybe he said it and I've forgotten it, but I don't – I can't tell you that I remember that.

Q: Mr. President, you swore under oath in the Jones case that you didn't think anyone other than your lawyers had ever told you that Monica Lewinsky had been subpoenaed. Page 68, line 22 [sic] through page 69, line 3. Here's the testimony, sir.

Question – we've gone over it a little bit before: "Did anyone other than your attorneys ever tell you that Monica Lewinsky had been served with a subpoena in this case?" Answer, "I don't think so." Now, this deposition was taken just three and a half weeks after, by your own testimony, Vernon Jordan made a trip at night to the White House to tell you, among other things, that Monica Lewinsky had been subpoenaed and was upset about it. Why did you give that testimony under oath in the Jones case, sir?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, Mr. Wisenberg, I think you have to – again, you have to put this in the context of the flow of questions, and I've already testified to this once today, I will testify to it again. My answer to the next question, I think, is a way of finishing my answer to the question and the answer you've said here. I was trying to remember who the first person, other than Mr. Bennett – I don't think Mr. Bennett – who the first person told me that, who told me Paula Jones had, I mean, excuse me, Monica Lewinsky had a subpoena. And I thought that Bruce Lindsey was the first person. And that's how I was trying to remember that. Keep in mind, sort of like today, these questions are being kind of put at me rapid-fire. But, unlike today, I hadn't had the opportunity to prepare at this level of detail. I didn't – I was trying to keep a lot of things in my head that I had remembered with regard to the Paula Jones case and the Kathleen Willey matter, because I knew I would be asked about them. And I gave the best answers I could. Several of my answers are somewhat jumbled. But this is an honest attempt here – if you read both these answers, it's obvious they were both answers to that question you quoted, to remember the first person, who was not Mr. Bennett, who told me. And I don't believe Vernon was the first person who told me. I believe Bruce Lindsey was.

Q: Let me read the question, because I want to talk about the first person issue. The question on line 25 of page 68 is, "Did anyone other than your attorneys ever tell you that Monica Lewinsky had been served with a subpoena in this case?" Answer, "I don't think so." You would agree with me, sir, that the question doesn't say, the question doesn't say anything about who was the first person. It just says, did anyone tell you. Isn't that correct?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: That's right. And I said Bruce Lindsey, because I was trying to struggle with who – where I had heard this. And they were free to ask a follow-up question, and they didn't.

Q: Mr. President, three and a half weeks before, Mr. Jordan had made a special trip to the White House to tell you Ms. Lewinsky had been subpoenaed; she was distraught; she had a fixation over you. And you couldn't remember that, three and a half weeks later?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Mr. Wisenberg, if – they had access to all this information from their conversations with Linda Tripp, if that was the basis of it. They were free to ask me more questions. They may have been trying to trick me.

Now, they knew more about the details of my relationship with Monica Lewinsky. I'm not sure everything they knew was true, because I don't know. I've not heard these tapes or anything. But they knew a lot more than I did. And instead of trying to trick me, what they should have done is to ask me specific questions, and I invited them on more than one occasion to ask follow-up questions.

This is the third or fourth time that you seem to be complaining that I did not do all their work for them. That just sitting here answering these questions to the best of my memory, with limited preparation, was not enough. That I should have actually been doing all their work for them. Now, they'd been up all night with Linda Tripp, who had betrayed her friend, Monica Lewinsky, stabbed her in the back and given them all this information. They could have helped more. If they wanted to ask me follow-up questions, they could. They didn't. I'm sorry. I did the best I could.

    Q: Can you tell the grand jury what is tricky about the question, "Did anyone other than your attorneys ever tell you" –

PRESIDENT CLINTON: No, there's nothing – I'm just telling – I have explained. I will now explain for the third time, sir. I was being asked a number of questions here. I was struggling to remember then. There were lots of things that had gone on during this time period that had nothing to do with Monica Lewinsky.

You know, I believed then, I believe now Monica Lewinsky could have sworn out an honest affidavit, that under reasonable circumstances, and without the benefit of what Linda Tripp did to her, would have given her a chance not to be a witness in this case. So, I didn't have perfect memory of all these events that have now, in the last seven months, since Ms. Lewinsky was kept for several hours by four or five of your lawyers and four or five FBI agents, as if she were a serious felon, these things have become the most important matters in the world. At the moment they were occurring, many other things were going on. I honestly tried to remember when – you know, if somebody asked you, has anybody ever talked to you about this, you normally think, well, where was the first time heard that. That's all I was trying to do here. I was not trying to say not Vernon Jordan, but Bruce Lindsey. Everybody knows Vernon Jordan is a friend of mine. I probably would have talked to Vernon Jordan about the Monica Lewinsky problem if he had never been involved in it. So, I was not trying to mislead them. I was trying to answer this question with the first person who told me that. Now, I realize that wasn't the specific question. They were free to ask follow-ups, just like you're asking follow-ups today. And I can't explain why I didn't answer every question in the way you seem to think I should have, and I certainly can't explain why they didn't ask what seemed to me to be logical follow-ups, especially since they spent all that time with Linda Tripp the night before.

Q: You've told us that you understand your obligation then, as it is now, is to tell the whole truth, sir. Do you recall that?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I took the oath here.

Q: If Vernon Jordan –

PRESIDENT CLINTON: You even read me a definition of the oath.

Q: If Vernon Jordan has told us that you have an extraordinary memory, one of the greatest memories he's ever seen in a politician, would that be something you would care to dispute?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: No, I do have a good memory. At least, I have had a good memory in my life.

Q: Do you understand that if you answered, "I don't think so", to the question, has anyone other than your attorneys told you that Monica Lewinsky has been served with a subpoena in this case, that if you answered, "I don't think so", but you really knew Vernon Jordan had been telling you all about it, you understand that that would be a false statement, presumably perjurious?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Mr. Wisenberg, I have testified about this three times. Now, I will do it the fourth time. I am not going to answer your trick questions.

I – people don't always hear the same questions in the same way. They don't always answer them in the same way. I was so concerned about the question they asked me that the next question I was asked, I went back to the previous question, trying to give an honest answer about the first time I heard about the Lewinsky subpoena. I – look. I could have had no reasonable expectation that anyone would ever know that, that – or not, excuse me, not know if this thing – that I would talk to Vernon Jordan about nearly everything. I was not interested in – if the implication of your question is that somehow I didn't want anybody to know I had ever talked to Vernon Jordan about this, that's just not so. It's also – if I could say one thing about my memory. I have been blessed and advantaged in my life with a~ good memory. Now, I have been shocked, and so have members of my family and friends of mine, at how many things that I have forgotten in the last six years, I think because of the pressure and the pace and the volume of events in the President's life, compounded by the pressure of your four-year inquiry, and all the other things that have happened, I'm amazed there are lots of times when I literally can't remember last week. If you ask me, did you talk to Vernon – when was the last time you talked to Vernon Jordan, what time of day was it, when did you see him, what did you say, my answer was the last – you know, if you answered [sic] me, when was the last time you saw a friend of yours in California, if you asked me a lot of questions like that, my memory is not what it was when I here, because my life is so crowded.

And now that – as I said, you have made this the most important issue in America. I mean you have made it the most important issue in America from your point of view. At the time this was occurring, even though I was concerned about it, and I hoped she didn't have to testify, and I hoped this wouldn't come out, I felt – I will say again – that she could honestly fill out an affidavit that, under reasonable circumstances, would relieve her of the burden of testifying. I am not trying to exclude the fact that I talked to Vernon here. I just – all I can tell you is I believe this answer reflects I was trying to remember the first person who told me who was not Mr. Bennett, and I believe it was Bruce Lindsey.

Q: As you yourself recalled, just recalled, Mr. President, Vernon Jordan not only discussed the subpoena with you that night, but discussed Frank Carter, the lawyer he had gotten for Ms. Lewinsky. And also Mr. Jordan discussed with you over the next few weeks, after the 19th of December, in addition to the job aspects of Ms. Lewinsky's job, discussed with you her affidavit that she was preparing in the case. Is that correct, sir?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I believe that he did notify us, I think, when she signed her affidavit, I have a memory of that. Or it seems like he said that she had signed her affidavit.

Q: If he's told us that he notified you around January 7th, when she signed her affidavit, and that you generally understood that it would deny a sexual relationship, do you have any reason to doubt that?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: No.

Q: So, that's the affidavit, the lawyer, and the subpoena. And yet when you were asked, sir, at the Jones deposition about Vernon Jordan, and specifically about whether or not he had discussed the lawsuit with you, didn't reveal that to the Court.

I want to refer you to page 72, line 16, where this starts. It's going to go down, it might go down somewhat.

Line 16. Question,. "Has it ever been reported to you that he .... and that's referring to Mr. Jordan. At line 12 you were asked, "You know a man named Vernon Jordan?", and you answer, "I know him well." Going down to 16, "Has it ever been reported to you that he met with Monica Lewinsky and talked about this case?"

This is your answer, or a portion of it: "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."

Why didn't you tell the Court, when you were under oath and sworn to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, that you had been talking with Vernon Jordan about the case, about the affidavit, the lawyer, the subpoena?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, that's not the question I was asked. I was not asked any question about – I was asked, "Has it ever been reported to you that he met with Monica Lewinsky and talked about this case." I believe – I may be wrong about this – my impression was that at the time, I was focused on the meetings. I believe the meetings he had were meetings about her moving to New York and getting a job. I knew at some point that she had told him that she needed some help, because she had gotten a subpoena. I'm not sure I know whether she did that in a meeting or a phone call. And I was not, I was not focused on that.

I know that, I know Vernon helped her to get a lawyer, Mr. Carter. And I, I believe that he did it after she had called him, but I'm not sure. But I knew that the main source of their meetings was about her move to New York and her getting a job.

Q: Are you saying, sir, that you forgot when you were asked this question that Vernon Jordan had come on December 19th, just three and a half weeks before, and said that he had met that day, the day that Monica got the subpoena?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: It's quite possible – it's a sort of a jumbled answer. It's quite possible that I had gotten mixed up between whether she had met with him or talked to him on the telephone in those three and a half weeks.

Again, I say, sir, just from the tone of your voice and the way you are asking questions here, it's obvious that this is the most important thing in the world, and that everybody was focused on all the details at the time. But that's not the way it worked. I was, I was doing my best to remember.

Now, keep in mind, I don't know if this is true, but the news reports are that Linda Tripp talked to you, then went and talked to the Jones lawyers, and, you know, that she prepared them for this. Now, maybe – you seem to be criticizing me because they didn't ask better questions and, as if you didn't prepare them well enough to sort of set me up or something. I don't know what's going on here.

All I can tell you is I didn't remember all the details of all this. I didn't remember what – when Vernon talked to me about Monica Lewinsky, whether she talked to him on the telephone or had a meeting. I didn't remember all those details. I was focused on the fact that Monica went to meet with Vernon after Betty helped him set it up, and had subsequent meetings to talk about her move to New York.

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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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