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From the Starr Referral:
Clinton's Grand Jury Testimony, Part 8

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: And so –

Q: – witnesses, didn't you?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: And so I said to them things that were true about this relationship. That I used – in the language I used, I said, there's nothing going on between us. That was true. I said, I have not had sex with her as I defined it. That was true. And did I hope that I would never have to be here on this day giving this testimony? Of course. But I also didn't want to do anything to complicate this matter further. So, I said things that were true. They may have been misleading, and if they were I have to take responsibility for it, and I'm sorry.

Q: It may have been misleading, sir, and you knew though, after January 21st when the Post article broke and said that Judge Starr was looking into this, you knew that they might be witnesses. You knew that they might be called into a grand jury, didn't you?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: That's right. I think I was quite careful what I said after that. I may have said something to all these people to that effect, but I'll also – whenever anybody asked me any details, I said, look, I don't want you to be a witness or I turn you into a witness or give you information that could get you in trouble. I just wouldn't talk. I, by and large, didn't talk to people about this.

Q: If all of these people – let's leave out Mrs. Currie for a minute. Vernon Jordan, Sid Blumenthal, John Podesta, Harold Ickes, Erskine Bowles, Harry Thomasson, after the story broke, after Judge Starr's involvement was known on January 21st, have said that you denied a sexual relationship with them. Are you denying that?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: No.

Q: And you've told us that you –

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I'm just telling you what I meant by it. I told you what I meant by it when they started this deposition.

Q: You've told us now that you were being careful, but that it might have been misleading. Is that correct?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: It might have been. Since we have seen this four-year, $40-million-investigation come down to parsing the definition of sex, I think it might have been. I don't think at the time that I thought that's what this was going to be about. In fact, if you remember the headlines at the time, even you mentioned the Post story. All the headlines were – and all the talking, people who talked about this, including a lot who have been quite sympathetic to your operation, said, well, this is not really a story about sex, or this is a story about subornation of perjury and these talking points, and all this other stuff. So, what I was trying to do was to give them something they could – that would be true, even if misleading in the context of this deposition, and keep them out of trouble, and let's deal – and deal with what I thought was the almost ludicrous suggestion that I had urged someone to lie or tried to suborn perjury, in other words.

Q: I want to go over some questions again. I don't think you are going to answer them, sir. And so I don't need a lengthy response, just a yes or a no. And I understand the basis upon which you are not answering them, but I need to ask them for the record. If Monica Lewinsky says that while you were in the Oval Office area you touched her breasts, would she be lying?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Let me say something about all this.

Q: All I really need for you, Mr. President –

   

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I know.

Q: – is to say –

PRESIDENT CLINTON: But you –

Q: – I won't answer under the previous grounds, or to answer the question, you see, because we only have four hours, and your answers –

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I know.

Q: – have been extremely lengthy.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I know that. I'll give you four hours and 30 seconds, if you'll let me say something general about this.

I will answer to your satisfaction that I won't – based on my statement, I will not answer. I would like 30 seconds at the end to make a statement, and you can have 30 seconds more on your time, if you'll let me say this to the grand jury and to you. And I don't think it's disrespectful at all. I've had a lot of time to think about this.

But, go ahead and ask your questions.

Q: The question is, if Monica Lewinsky says that while you were in the Oval Office area you touched her breasts, would she be lying?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: That is not my recollection. My recollection is that I did not have sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky and I'm staying on my former statement about that.

Q: If she said –

PRESIDENT CLINTON: My, my statement is that I did not have sexual relations as defined by that.

Q: If she says that you kissed her breasts, would she be lying?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I'm going to revert to my former statement.

Q: Okay. If Monica Lewinsky says that while you were in the Oval Office area you touched her genitalia, would she be lying? And that calls for a yes, no, or reverting to your former statement.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I will revert to my statement on that.

Q: If Monica Lewinsky says that you used a cigar as a sexual aid with her in the Oval Office area, would she be lying? Yes, no, or won't answer?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I will revert to my former statement.

Q: If Monica Lewinsky says that you had phone sex with her, would she be lying?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, that is, at least in general terms, I think, is covered by my statement. I addressed that in my statement, and that, I don't believe, is –

Q: Let me define phone sex for purposes of my question. Phone sex occurs when a party to a phone conversation masturbates while the other party is talking in a sexually explicit manner. And the question is, if Monica Lewinsky says that you had phone sex with her, would she be lying?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I think that is covered by my statement.

Q: Did you, on or about January the 13th, 1998, Mr. President, ask Erskine Bowles to ask John Hilley if he would give a recommendation for Monica Lewinsky?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: In 1998?

Q: Yes. On or about January 13th, 1998, did you ask Erskine Bowles, your Chief of Staff, if he would ask John Hilley to give a recommendation for Monica Lewinsky?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: At some point, sir, I believe I talked to Erskine Bowles about whether Monica Lewinsky could get a recommendation that was not negative from the Legislative Affairs Office. I believe I did.

Q: I just didn't hear the very last part.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I think the answer is, I think, yes. At some point I talked to Erskine Bowles about this.

Q: Okay.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I do not know what the date was. At some point I did talk to him.

Q: And if Erskine Bowles has told us that he told John Podesta to carry out your wishes, and John Podesta states that it was three or four days before your deposition, which would be the 13th or the 14th, are you in a position to deny that?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: The 13th or 14th of?

Q: January, as to date.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I don't know. I don't know when the date was.

Q: Okay.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I'm not in a position to deny it. I won't deny it. I'm sure that they are both truthful men. I don't know when the date was.

Q: Do you recall asking Erskine Bowles to do that?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I recall talking to Erskine Bowles about that, and my recollection is, sir, that Ms. Lewinsky was moving to New York, wanted to get a job in the private sector; was confident she would get a good recommendation from the Defense Department; and was concerned that because she had been moved from the Legislative Affairs Office, transferred to the Defense Department, that her ability to get a job might be undermined by a bad recommendation from the Legislative Affairs Office.

So, I asked Erskine if we could get her a recommendation that just was at least neutral, so that if she had a good recommendation from the Defense Department it wouldn't prevent her from getting a job in the private sector.

Q: If Mr. Bowles has told us that, in fact, you told him that she already had a job and had already listed Mr. Hilley as a reference and wanted him to be available as a recommendation, would you be in – is that inconsistent with your memory?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: A little bit, but I think – my memory is that when you're, when you get a job like that you have to give them a resume, which says where you've worked and who your supervisor was. And I think that that's my recollection. My recollection is that – slightly different from that.

    Q: And who was it that asked you to do that on Monica Lewinsky's behalf?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I think she did. You know, she tried for months and months to get a job back in the White House, not so much in the West Wing but somewhere in the White House complex, including the Old Executive Office Building. And she talked to Marsha Scott, among others. She very much wanted to come back. And she interviewed for some jobs but never got one.

She was, from time to time, upset about it. And I think what she was afraid of is that she couldn't get a – from the minute she left the White House she was worried about this. That if she didn't come back to the White House and work for awhile and get a good job recommendation, that no matter how well she had done at the Pentagon it might hurt her future employment prospects.

Well, it became obvious that, you know, her mother had moved to New York. She wanted to go to New York. She wasn't going to get a job in the White House. So, she wanted to get a job in the private sector, and said, I hope that I won't get a letter out of the Legislative Affairs Office that will prevent my getting a job in the private sector. And that's what I talked to Erskine about. Now, that's my entire memory of this.

Q: All right. I want to go back briefly to the December 28th conversation with Ms. Lewinsky. I believe you testified to the effect that she asked you, what if they ask me about gifts you gave me. My question to you is, after that statement by her, did you ever have a conversation with Betty Currie about gifts, or picking something up from Monica Lewinsky?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I don't believe I did, sir. No.

Q: You never told her anything to this effect, that Monica has something to give you?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: No, sir.

Q: That is to say, Betty Currie?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: No, sir, I didn't. I don't have any memory of that whatever.

Q: And so you have no knowledge that, or you had no knowledge at the time, that Betty Currie went and picked up, your secretary went and picked up from Monica Lewinsky items that were called for by the Jones subpoena and hid them under her bed? You had no knowledge that anything remotely like that was going to happen?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I did not. I did not know she had those items, I believe, until that was made public.

Q: And you agree with me that that would be a very wrong thing to do, to hide evidence in a civil case, or any case? Isn't that true?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Yes. I don't know that, that Ms. Currie knew that that's what she had at all. But –

Q: I'm not saying she did. I'm just saying –

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I had – it is, if Monica Lewinsky did that after they had been subpoenaed and she knew what she was doing, she should not have done that.

Q: And if you knew, you –

PRESIDENT CLINTON: And I –

Q: – shouldn't have done it?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Indeed, I, myself, told her, if they ask you for gifts you have to give them what you have. And I don't understand if, in fact, she was worried about this, why she was so worried about it. It was no big deal.

Q: I want to talk about a December 17th phone conversation you had with Monica Lewinsky at approximately 2:00 a.m. Do you recall making that conversation and telling her initially about the death of Betty's brother, but then telling her that she was on the witness list, and that it broke your heart that she was on the witness list?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: No, sir, I don't, but it would – it, it would – it is quite possible that that happened, because, if you remember, earlier in this meeting you asked me some questions about what I'd said to Monica about testimony and affidavits, and I was struggling to try to remember whether this happened in a meeting or a phone call.

Now, I remember I called her to tell her Betty's brother had died. I remember that. And I know it was in the middle of December, and I believe it was before Monica had been subpoenaed. So, I think it is quite possible that if I called her at that time and had not talked to her since the 6th – and you asked me this earlier – I believe when I saw her on the 6th, I don't think I knew she was on the witness list then, then it's quite possible I would say something like that. I don't have any memory of it, but I certainly wouldn't dispute that I might have said that.

Q: And in that conversation, or in any conversation in which you informed her she was on the witness list, did you tell her, you know, you can always say that you were coming to see Betty or bringing me letters? Did you tell her anything like that?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I don't remember. She was coming to see Betty. I can tell you this. I absolutely never asked her to lie.

Q: Sir, every time she came to see Betty and you were in the Oval Office, she was coming to see you, too, wasn't she, or just about every time?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I think just about every time. I don't think every time. I think there was a time or two where she came to see Betty when she didn't see me.

Q: So, do you remember telling her any time, any time when you told her, or after you told her that she was on the witness list, something to this effect: You know, you can always say you were coming to see Betty, or you were bringing me letters?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I don't remember exactly what I told her that night.

Q: Did you –

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I don't remember that. I remember talking about the nature of our relationship, how she got in. But I also will tell you that I felt quite comfortable that she could have executed a truthful affidavit, which would not have disclosed the embarrassing details of the relationship that we had had, which had been over for many, many months by the time this incident occurred.

Q: Did you tell her anytime in December something to that effect: You know, you can always say that you were coming to see Betty or were bringing letters? Did you say that, or anything like that, in December '97 or January '98, to Monica Lewinsky?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, that's a very broad question. I do not recall saying anything like that in connection with her testimony. I could tell you what I do remember saying, if you want to know. But I don't – we might have talked about what to do in a non legal context at some point in the past, but I have no specific memory of that conversation.

I do remember what I said to her about the possible testimony.

Q: You would agree with me, if you did say something like that to her, to urge her to say that to the Jones people, that that would be part of an effort to mislead the Jones people, no matter how evil they are and corrupt?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I didn't say they were evil. I said what they were doing here was wrong, and it was.

Q: Wouldn't that be misleading?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, again, you are trying to get me to characterize something that I'm – that I don't know if I said or not, without knowing whether the whole, whether the context is complete or not. So, I would have to know, what was the context, what were all the surrounding facts.

I can tell you this: I never asked Ms. Lewinsky to lie. The first time that she raised with me the possibility that she might be a witness or I told her – you suggested the possibility in this December 17th timeframe – I told her she had to get a lawyer. And I never asked her to lie.

Q: Did you ever say anything like that, you can always say that you were coming to see Betty or bringing me letters? Was that part of any kind of a, anything you said to her or a cover story, before you had any idea she was going to be part of Paula Jones?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I might well have said that.

Q: Okay.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Because I certainly didn't want this to come out, if I could help it. And I was concerned about that. I was embarrassed about it. I knew it was wrong. And, you know, of course, I didn't want it to come out. But –

Q: But you are saying that you didn't say anything – I want to make sure I understand. Did you say anything like that once you knew or thought she might be a witness in the Jones case? Did you repeat that statement, or something like it to her?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, again, I don't recall, and I don't recall whether I might have done something like that, for example, if somebody says, what if the reporters ask me this, that or the other thing. I can tell you this: In the context of whether she could be a witness, I have a recollection that she asked me, well, what do I do if I get called as a witness, and I said you have to get a lawyer. And that's all I said. And I never asked her to lie.

Q: Did you tell her to tell the truth?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, I think the implication was she would tell the truth. I've already told you that I felt strongly that she could issue, that she could execute an affidavit that would be factually truthful, that might get her out of having to testify. Now, it obviously wouldn't if the Jones people knew this, because they knew that if they could get this and leak it, it would serve their larger purposes, even if the judge ruled that she couldn't be a witness in the case. The judge later ruled she wouldn't be a witness in the case. The judge later ruled the case had no merit.

So, I knew that. And did I hope she'd be able to get out of testifying on an affidavit? Absolutely. Did I want her to execute a false affidavit? No, I did not.

Q: If Monica Lewinsky has stated that her affidavit that she didn't have a sexual relationship with you is, in fact, a lie, I take it you disagree with that?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: No. I told you before what I thought the issue was there, I think the issue is how do you define sexual relationship. And there was no definition imposed on her at the time she executed the affidavit. Therefore, she was free to give it any reasonable meaning.

Q: And if she says she was lying –

PRESIDENT CLINTON: And I believe –

Q: – under your common sense ordinary meaning that you talked about earlier, Mr. President, that most Americans would have, if she says sexual relationship, saying I didn't have one was a lie because I had oral sex with the President, I take it, you would disagree with that?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Now, we're back to where we started and I have to invoke my statement. But, let me just say one thing. I've read a lot, and obviously I don't know whether any of it's accurate, about what she said, and what purports to be on those tapes.

And this thing – and I searched my own memory. This reminds me, to some extent, of the hearings when Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill were both testifying under oath. Now, in some rational way, they could not have both been telling the truth, since they had directly different accounts of a shared set of facts. Fortunately, or maybe you think unfortunately, there was no special prosecutor to try to go after one or the other of them, to take sides and try to prove one was a liar. And so, Judge Thomas was able to go on and serve on the Supreme Court.

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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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