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From the Starr Referral:
Clinton's Grand Jury Testimony, Part 7

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: I don't remember anything I said to him in that regard. I have no recollection of that whatever.

MR. WISENBERG: Let's take a break now.

MR. KENDALL: Thank you, 3:38.

(Whereupon, the proceedings were recessed from 3:38 p.m. until 4:01 p.m.)

MR. KENDALL: It is 4:01.

BY MR. WISENBERG:

Q: Mr. President, the next series of questions are from the grand jurors. And let me tell you that the grand jurors want you to be more specific about the inappropriate conduct. The first question was, one of the grand jurors has said that you referred to what you did with Ms. Lewinsky as inappropriate contact; what do you mean by that?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I mean just what I said. But I would like to ask the grand jury, because I think I have been quite specific and I think I've been willing to answer some specific questions that I haven't been asked yet, but I do not want to discuss something that is intensely painful to me. This has been tough enough already on me and on my family, although I take responsibility for it. I have no one to blame but myself.

What I meant was, and what they can infer that I meant was, that I did things that were – when I was alone with her, that were inappropriate and wrong. But that they did not include any activity that was within the definition of sexual relations that I was given by Judge Wright in the deposition. I said that I did not do those things that were in that, within that definition, and I testified truthfully to that. And that's all I can say about it.

Now, you know, if there's any doubt on the part of the grand jurors about whether I believe some kind of activity falls within that definition or outside that definition, I'd be happy to try to answer that.

Q: Well, I have a question regarding your definition then. And my question is, is oral sex performed on you within that definition as you understood it, the definition in the Jones –

PRESIDENT CLINTON: As I understood it, it was not, no.

Q: The grand jurors would like to know upon what basis, what legal basis you are declining to answer more specific questions about this? I've mentioned to you that obviously you have privileges, privileges against self-incrimination. There's no general right not to answer questions. And so one of the questions from the grand jurors is what basis, what legal basis are you declining to answer these questions?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I'm not trying to evade my legal obligations or my willingness to help the grand jury achieve their legal obligations. As I understand it, you want to examine whether you believe I told the truth in my deposition, whether I asked Ms. Lewinsky not to tell the truth, and whether I did anything else with evidence, or in any other way, amounting to an obstruction of justice or a subornation of perjury. And I'm prepared to answer all questions that the grand jury needs to draw that conclusion.

Now, respectfully, I believe the grand jurors can ask me if I believe – just like that grand juror did – could ask me, do you believe that this conduct falls within that definition. If it does, then you are free to conclude that my testimony is that I didn't do that. And I believe that you can achieve that without requiring me to say and do things that I don't think are necessary and that I think, frankly, go too far in trying to criminalize my private life.

   

Q: If a person touched another person, if you touched another person on the breast, would that be, in your view, and was it within your view, when you took the deposition, within the definition of sexual relations?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: If the person being deposed –

Q: Yes.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: – in this case, me, directly touched the breast of another person, with the purpose to arouse or gratify, under that definition that would be included.

Q: Only directly, sir, or would it be directly or through clothing?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, I would – I think the common sense definition would be directly. That's how I would infer what it means.

Q: If the person being deposed kissed the breast of another person, would that be in the definition of sexual relations as you understood it when you were under oath in the Jones case?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Yes, that would constitute contact. I think that would. If it were direct contact, I believe it would. I – maybe I should read it again, just to make sure. Because this basically says if there was any direct contact with an intent to arouse or gratify, if that was the intent of the contact, then that would fall within the definition. That's correct.

Q: So, touching, in your view then and now – the person being deposed touching or kissing the breast of another person would fall within the definition?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: That's correct, sir.

Q: And you testified that you didn't have sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky in the Jones deposition, under that definition, correct?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: That's correct, sir.

Q: If the person being deposed touched the genitalia of another person, would that be – and with the intent to arouse the sexual desire, arouse or gratify, as defined in definition (1), would that be, under your understanding then and now –

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Yes, sir.

Q: – sexual relations?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Yes, sir.

Q: Yes, it would?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Yes, it would. If you had a direct contact with any of these places in the body, if you had direct contact with intent to arouse or gratify, that would fall within the definition.

Q: So, you didn't do any of those three things –

PRESIDENT CLINTON: You –

Q: – with Monica Lewinsky?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: You are free to infer that my testimony is that I did not have sexual relations, as I understood this term to be defined.

Q: Including touching her breast, kissing her breast, or touching her genitalia?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: That's correct.

Q: Would you agree with me that the insertion of an object into the genitalia of another person with the desire to gratify sexually would fit within the definition used in the Jones case as sexual relations?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: There's nothing here about that, is there? I don't know that I ever thought about that one way or the other.

Q: The question is, under the definition as you understood it then, under the definition as you understand it now – pardon me just a minute.

Pardon me, Mr. President. (Pause)

Deposition Exhibit 1, question 1, under the – in the Jones case, Definition of Sexual Relations –

MR. KENDALL: Do you have that before you, Mr. President? Excuse me.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I do, sir.

MR. KENDALL: Good.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I've got it right here. I'm looking at it.

BY MR. WISENBERG:

Q: As you understood the definition then, and as you understood it now, would it include sticking an object into the genitalia of another person in order to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person? Would it constitute, in other words, contact with the genitalia?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I don't know the answer to that. I suppose you could argue that since section 2, paragraph (2) was eliminated, and paragraph (2) actually dealt with the object issue, that perhaps whoever wrote this didn't intend for paragraph (1) to cover an object, and basically meant direct contact. So, if I were asked – I've not been asked this question before. But I guess that's the way I would read it.

Q: If it – that it would not be covered? That activity would not be covered?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: That's right. If the activity you just mentioned would be covered in number (2), and number (2) were stricken, I think you can infer logically that paragraph (1) was not intended to cover it. But, as I said, I've not been asked this before. I'm just doing the best I can.

    Q: Well, if someone were to hold or a judge were to hold that you are incorrect and that definition (1) does include the hypo I've given to you – because we're talking in hypos, so that you don't – under your request here, if someone were to tell you or rule that you are wrong, that the insertion of an object into somebody else's genitalia with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person is within definition (1) –

MR. KENDALL: Mr. Wisenberg, excuse me. I have not objected heretofore to any question you've asked. I must tell you, I cannot understand that question. I think it's improper. And, if the witness can understand it, he may answer.

MR. WISENBERG: I'll be happy to rephrase it.

BY MR. WISENBERG:

Q: If you're wrong and it's within definition (1), did you engage in sexual relations under the definition, with Monica Lewinsky?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: But, Mr. Wisenberg, I have said all along that would say what I thought it meant, and you can infer that didn't. This is an unusual question, but it's a slippery slope. We can – I have tried to deal with some very delicate areas here, and, and in one case I've given you a very forthright answer about what I thought was not within here.

All I can tell you is, whatever I thought was covered, and I thought about this carefully. And let me just point out, this was uncomfortable for me. I had to acknowledge, because of this definition, that under this definition I had actually had sexual relations once with Gennifer Flowers, a person who had spread all kinds of ridiculous, dishonest, exaggerated stories about me for money. And I knew when I did that, it would be leaked, it was. And I was embarrassed. But I did it.

So, I tried to read this carefully. I can tell you what I thought it covered, and I can tell you that I do not believe I did anything that I thought was covered by this.

Q: As I understand your testimony, Mr. President, touching somebody's breast with the intent to arouse, with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person is covered; kissing the breast is covered; touching the genitalia is covered; correct?

MR. KENDALL: In fairness, the witness said directly in each one of those cases.

BY MR. WISENBERG:

Q: Directly, is covered, correct?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I believe it is, yes, sir.

Q: Oral sex, in your view, is not covered, correct?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: If performed on the deponent.

Q: Is not covered, correct?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: That's my reading of this number (1).

Q: And you are declining to answer the hypothetical about insertion of an object.

I need to inform you, Mr. President – we'll go on, at least for now. But I need to inform you that the grand jury will consider your not answering the questions more directly in their determination of whether or not they are going to issue another subpoena.

Let me switch the topic and talk to you about John Podesta and some of the other aides you've met with and spoke to after this story became public on January 21st, 1998, the day of The Washington Post story.

Do you recall meeting with him around January 23rd, 1998, a Friday a.m. in your study, two days after The Washington Post story, and extremely explicitly telling him that you didn't have, engage in any kind of sex, in any way, shape or form, with Monica Lewinsky, including oral sex?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I meet with John Podesta almost every day. I meet with a number of people. The only thing I – what happened in the couple of days after what you did was revealed, is a blizzard to me. The only thing I recall is that I met with certain people, and a few of them I said I didn't have sex with Monica Lewinsky, or I didn't have an affair with her or something like that. I had a very careful thing I said, and I tried not to say anything else. And it might be that John Podesta was one of them. But I do not remember this specific meeting about which you asked, or the specific comments to which you refer. And –

Q: You don't remember –

PRESIDENT CLINTON: – seven months ago, I'd have no way to remember, no.

Q: You don't remember denying any kind of sex in any way, shape or form, and including oral sex, correct?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I remember that I issued a number of denials to people that I thought needed to hear them, but I tried to be careful and to be accurate, and I do not remember what I said to John Podesta.

Q: Surely, if you told him that, that would be a falsehood, correct?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: No, I didn't say that, sir. I didn't say that at all. That is not covered by the definition and I did not address it in my statement.

Q: Well, let me ask you then. If you told him – perhaps he thought it was covered, I don't know. But if you told him, if you denied to him sex in any way, shape or form, kind of similar to what Mr. Bennett did at the deposition, including oral sex, wouldn't that have been a falsehood?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Now, Mr. Wisenberg, I told you in response to a grand juror's question, you asked me did I believe that oral sex performed on the person being deposed was covered by that definition, and I said no. I don't believe it's covered by the definition. I said you are free to conclude that I did not do things that I believe were covered by the definition, and you have asked me a number of questions and I have acknowledged things that I believe are covered by the definition. Since that was not covered by the definition, I want to fall back on my statement. Look, I'm not trying to be evasive here. I'm trying to protect my privacy, my family's privacy, and I'm trying to stick to what the deposition was about. If the deposition wasn't about this and didn't cover it, then I don't believe that I should be required to go beyond my statement.

Q: Mr. President, it's not our intent to embarrass you. But since we have to look, among other things, at obstruction of justice, questions of obstruction of justice and perjury; the answer to some of these delicate and unfortunate questions are absolutely required. And that is the purpose that we have to ask them for.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: It's not –

Q: I'm unaware of any –

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Mr. Wisenberg, with respect, you don't need to know the answer for that, if the answer, no matter what the answer is, wouldn't constitute perjury because it wasn't sexual relations as defined by the Judge.

Q: Mister –

PRESIDENT CLINTON: The only reason you need to know that is for some other reason. It couldn't have anything to do with perjury.

Q: Mr. President, one of the, one of the nice things about – one of the normal things about an investigation and a grand jury investigation is that the grand jurors and the prosecutors get to ask the questions unless they are improper, and unless there is a legal basis. As I understand from your answers, there is no legal basis for which you decline to answer these questions. And I'll ask you again to answer the question. I'm unaware of any legal basis for you not to. If you told –

MR. KENDALL: Mr. Wisenberg, could you just restate the question, please?

BY MR. WISENBERG:

Q: The question is, if you told John Podesta two days after the story broke something to this effect that you didn't have any kind of sex in any way, shape or form, including oral sex with Ms. Lewinsky, were you telling him the truth?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: And let me say again, with respect, this is an indirect way to try to get me to testify to questions that have no bearing on whether I committed perjury. You apparently agree that it has no bearing –

Q: Oh, I don't –

PRESIDENT CLINTON: – no bearing on whether I –

Q: I don't agree.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: – committed perjury.

Q: Mr. President, I'm sorry, with respect, I don't agree with that. I'm not going to argue with you about it. I just am going to ask you again, in fact direct you to answer the question.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I'm not going to answer that question, because I believe it's a question about conduct that, whatever the answer to it is, would, does not bear on the perjury because oral sex performed on the deponent under this definition is not sexual relations. It is not covered by this definition.

MR. KENDALL: The witness is not declining to tell you anything he said to John Podesta.

BY MR. WISENBERG:

Q: You denied the –

MR. WISENBERG: The witness is not declining to tell me anything?

BY MR. WISENBERG:

Q: Did you deny oral sex in any way, shape or form, to John Podesta?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I told you, sir, before, and I will say again, in the aftermath of this story breaking, and what was told about it, the next two days, next three days are just a blur to me. I don't remember to whom I talked, when I talked to them, or what I said.

Q: So, you are not declining to answer, you just don't remember?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I honestly don't remember, no.

Q: Okay.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I'm not saying that anybody who had a contrary memory is wrong. I do not remember.

Q: Do you recall denying any sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky to the following people: Harry Thomasson, Erskine Bowles, Harold Ickes, Mr. Podesta, Mr. Blumenthal, Mr. Jordan, Ms. Betty Currie? Do you recall denying any sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky to those individuals?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I recall telling a number of those people that I didn't have, either I didn't have an affair with Monica Lewinsky or didn't have sex with her. And I believe, sir, that – you'll have to ask them what they thought. But I was using those terms in the normal way people use them. You'll have to ask them what they thought I was saying.

Q: If they testified that you denied sexual relations or relationship with Monica Lewinsky, or if they told us that you denied that, do you have any reason to doubt them, in the days after the story broke; do you have any reason to doubt them?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: No. The – let me say this. It's no secret to anybody that I hoped that this relationship would never become public. It's a matter of fact that it had been many, many months since there had been anything improper about it, in terms of improper contact. I –

Q: Did you deny it to them or not, Mr. President?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Let me finish. So, what – I did not want to mislead my friends, but I wanted to find language where I could say that. I also, frankly, did not want to turn any of them into witnesses, because I – and, sure enough, they all became witnesses.

Q: Well, you knew they might be –

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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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