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From the Starr Referral:
Clinton's Grand Jury Testimony, Part 9

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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What I learned from that, I can tell you that I was a citizen out there just listening. And when I heard both of them testify, what I believed after it was over, I believed that they both thought they were telling the truth.

This is – you're dealing with, in some ways, the most mysterious area of human life. I'm doing the best I can to give you honest answers.

Q: Mr. President –

PRESIDENT CLINTON: And that's all I can say.

Q: I'm sorry.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: And, you know, those people both testified under oath. So, if there'd been a special prosecutor, they could, one of them could have gone after Anita Hill, another could have gone after Clarence Thomas. I thank God there was no such thing then, because I don't believe that it was a proper thing.

Q: One of –

PRESIDENT CLINTON: And I think they both thought they were telling the truth. So, maybe Ms. Lewinsky believes she's telling the truth, and I'm glad she got her mother and herself out of trouble. I'm glad you gave her that sweeping immunity. I'm glad for the whole thing. I, I, I – it breaks my heart that she was ever involved in this.

Q: I want to go back to a question about Vernon Jordan. I want to go back to late December and early January, late December of '97 and early January of '98. During this time, Mr. President, you are being sued for sexual harassment by a woman who claims, among other things, that others got benefits that she didn't because she didn't sex you. While this is happening, your powerful friend, Vernon Jordan, is helping to get Monica Lewinsky a job and a lawyer. He's helping to get a job and a lawyer for someone who had some kind of sex with you, and who has been subpoenaed in the very case, the Jones case. Don't you see a problem with this? Didn't you see a problem with this?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: No. Would you like to know why?

Q: Isn't that why – I would. But isn't that why Vernon Jordan asked you on December 19th whether or not you had sexual relationships with Monica Lewinsky and why he asked her, because he knew it would be so highly improper to be helping her with a lawyer and a job if, in fact, she had had a relationship with you?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I don't know. I don't believe that at all. I don't believe that at all, particularly since, even if you look at the facts here in their light most unfavorable to me, no one has suggested that there was any sexual harassment on my part. And I don't think it was wrong to be helping her. Look –

Q: A subpoenaed witness in a case against you?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Absolutely. Look, for one thing, I had already proved in two ways that I was not trying to influence her testimony. I didn't order her to be hired at the White House. I could have done so. I wouldn't do it. She tried for months to get in. She was angry. Secondly, after I -~-

Q: Wasn't she kept –

   

PRESIDENT CLINTON: After I terminated the improper contact with her, she wanted to come in more than she did. She got angry when she didn't get in sometimes. I knew that that might make her more likely to speak, and I still did it because I had to limit the contact.

And, thirdly, let me say, I formed an opinion really early in 1996, and again – well, let me finish the sentence. I formed an opinion early in 1996, once I got into this unfortunate and wrong conduct, that when I stopped it, which I knew I'd have to do and which I should have done a long time before I did, that she would talk about it. Not because Monica Lewinsky is a bad person. She's basically a good girl. She's a good young woman with a good heart and a good mind. I think she is burdened by some unfortunate conditions of her, her upbringing. But she's basically a good person.

But I knew that the minute there was no longer any contact, she would talk about this. She would have to. She couldn't help it. It was, it was a part of her psyche. So, I had put myself at risk, sir. I was not trying to buy her silence or get Vernon Jordan to buy her silence. I thought she was a good person. She had not been involved with me for a long time in any improper way, months, and I wanted to help her get on with her life. It's just as simple as that

MR. WISENBERG: It's time for a break.

MR. KENDALL: Okay. 4:49.

(Whereupon, the proceedings were recessed from 4:49 p.m. until 5:05 p.m.)

MR. KENDALL: Bob, we are at 2 hours and 55 minutes.

MR. BITTMAN: Two hours and 55 minutes, thank you.

BY MR. BITTMAN:

Q: Mr. President.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Mr. Bittman.

Q: Apparently we have one hour and five minutes left, if we stick to the four-hour timeframe.

MR. KENDALL: Plus 30 seconds.

MR. BITTMAN: And 30 seconds, that's right.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: You gave me my 30 seconds' soliloquy. So, I owe you 30 seconds.

BY MR. BITTMAN:

Q: You are very generous. That actually segues very nicely into one of the grand juror's asked, pointed out actually, that you indicated at the beginning of the deposition that you would, you would answer all the grand jurors, you wanted to answer all the grand jurors' questions. And they wanted to know whether you would be willing to stay beyond the four-hour period to, in fact, answer all their questions.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, let's see how we do in the next hour, and then we'll decide.

Q: Okay. Let me draw your attention to early January of this year, after Christmas, before your deposition. Do you remember talking to Betty Currie about Monica, who had just called her and said that she, Monica, needed to talk to you before she signed something?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I'm not sure that I do remember that. But, go ahead.

Q: This is in early January. And then Betty Currie relayed this to you that Monica called, it's important, she needs to talk to you before she signs something. And then you do, indeed, talk to Monica that day on the telephone.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I did talk to her that day?

Q: Yes.

MR. KENDALL: Mr. President, excuse me. That's a question. If you have a memory of that, you can answer.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I'm trying to remember when the last time I talked to her was. I am aware, sir, that she signed this affidavit about this time, sometime in the first week in January. I may have talked to her before she did it. I don't know. I talked to her a number of times between the time Betty's brother died and Christmas. Then I saw her on December 28. I may have talked to her, but I don't remember the specific conversation.

BY MR. BITTMAN:

Q: And you would have talked about the – she had just given you a gift actually in early January, a book on the Presidents of the United States. And you discussed this with her and she said that you said you liked it a lot.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I did like it a lot. I told you that. My impression, my belief was that she gave me that book for Christmas. Maybe that's not right. I think she had that book delivered to me for Christmas. And then, as I remember, I went to Bosnia and for some reason she wasn't there around Christmas time. But, anyway, maybe I didn't get it until January. My recollection was that I had gotten it right before Christmas.

Q: Let me see if I can jog your memory further. Monica talked to you in that phone conversation that told you that she had just met with her attorney that Mr. Jordan arranged with her, and the attorney said that if she is deposed that they were going to ask her how she got her job at the Pentagon. And Monica then asked you, what do you think I should say, how do I answer that question, how did get the job at the Pentagon. Did you talk to Monica about that, about possibilities –

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I don't believe – no. I don't remember her asking me that. But if she, if she had asked me that, I would have told her to tell the truth. I – and I didn't, you know, don't know exactly how she got her job at the Pentagon. I know Evelyn Lieberman wanted to transfer her out of the job she had, and somebody must have arranged that. But I didn't arrange it.

Q: Now, that's actually not my question. My question is whether you remember talking to Monica about her being concerned that, I may have to answer some questions about how and why I was transferred to the Pentagon out of the White House, fearing that this would –

PRESIDENT CLINTON: No, I don't remember that at all.

Q: – lead to questions, or answers that would reveal your relationship?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Oh, no, sir. I don't remember that. Maybe somebody – maybe she did. But I only remember – well, I don't remember that. That's all I can tell you. I don't remember that.

Q: Are you saying, Mr. President, that you did not then say to Ms. Lewinsky that you could always say that people in Legislative Affairs got you the job, or helped you get it?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I have no recollection of that whatever.

Q: Are you saying you didn't say it?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: No, sir. I'm telling you, I want to say I don't recall – I don't have any memory of this as I sit here today. And I can tell you this, I never asked her to lie. I never did. And I don't have any recollection of the specific thing you are saying to me.

Now, if I could back up, there were several times when Monica Lewinsky talked to me on the telephone in 1996, in person in 1997, about her being concerned about what anybody would say about her transfer from the White House to the Pentagon. But I remember no conversation in which she was concerned about it for the reasons you just mentioned.

And all my memory is, she was worried about it because she thought it would keep her from getting a good job down the road, and she talked to me about it constantly in 1997. She thought, well, I'll never have my record clear unless i work somewhere in the White House complex where I can get a good recommendation. But in the context that you mention it, I do not recall a conversation.

    Q: Did you ever tell Ms. Lewinsky, or promise to her that you would do your best to get her back into the White House after the 1996 Presidential elections?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: What I told Ms. Lewinsky was that I would, I would do what I could to see, if she had a good record at the Pentagon, and she assured me she was doing a good job and working hard, that I would do my best to see that the fact that she had been sent away from the Legislative Affairs section did not keep her from getting a job in the White House, and that is, in fact, what I tried to do. I had a conversation with Ms. Scott about it, and I tried to do that. But I did not tell her I would order someone to hire her, and I never did, and I wouldn't do that. It wouldn't be right.

Q: When you received the book, this gift from Monica, the Presidents of the United States, this book that you liked and you talked with Monica about, did it come with a note? Do you remember the note that it came with, Mr. President?

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

Q: Do you remember that in the note she wrote that, she expressed how much she missed you and how much she cared for you, and you and she later talked about this in this telephone conversation, and you said – and she apologized for putting such emotional, romantic things in this note, and you said, yeah, you shouldn't have written some of those things, you shouldn't put those things down on paper? Did you ever say anything like that to Ms. Lewinsky?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Oh, I believe I did say something like that to Ms. Lewinsky. I don't remember doing something as late as you suggest. I'm not saying I didn't. I have no recollection of that.

Keep in mind now, it had been quite a long time since I had had any improper contact with her. And she was, in a funny way, almost more attached to me than she had been before. In '96, she had a long relationship, she said, with a man whom she liked a lot. And I didn't know what else was going on in her private life in '97. But she talked to me occasionally about people she was going out with.

But normally her language at this point was, if affectionate, was, was not improperly affectionate, I would say. So – but, it could have happened. I wouldn't say it didn't. I just don't remember it at this late date.

Q: Let me refer back to one of the subjects we talked about at one of the earlier breaks, right before one of the earlier breaks, and that is your meeting with Mrs. Currie on January 18th. This is the Sunday after your deposition in the Paula Jones case. You said that you spoke to her in an attempt to refresh your own recollection about the events involving Monica Lewinsky, is that right?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Yes.

Q: How did you making the statement, I was never alone with her, right, refresh your recollection?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, first of all, let's remember the context here. I did not at that time know of your involvement in this case. I just knew that obviously someone had given them a lot of information, some of which struck me as accurate, some of which struck me as dead wrong. But it led them to write, ask me a whole serious of questions about Monica Lewinsky. Then on Sunday morning, this Drudge report came out, which used Betty's name, and I thought that we were going to be deluged by press comments. And I was trying to refresh my memory about what the facts were. So, when I said, we were never alone, right, I think I also asked her a number of other questions, because there were several times, as I'm sure she would acknowledge, when I either asked her to be around. I remember once in particular when I was talking with Ms. Lewinsky when I asked Betty to be in the, actually, in the next room in the dining room, and, as I testified earlier, once in her own office. But I meant that she was always in the Oval Office complex, in that complex, while Monica was there. And I believe that this was part of a series of questions I asked her to try to quickly refresh my memory. So, I wasn't trying to get her to say something that wasn't so. And, in fact, think she would recall that I told her to just relax, go in the grand jury and tell the truth when she had been called as a witness.

Q: So, when you said to Mrs. Currie that, I was never alone with her, right, you just meant that you and Ms. Lewinsky would be somewhere perhaps in the Oval Office or many times in your back study, is that correct?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: That's right. We were in the back study.

Q: And then –

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Keep in mind, sir, I just want to make it – I was talking about 1997. I was never, ever trying to get Betty Currie to claim that on the occasions when Monica Lewinsky was there when she wasn't anywhere around, that she was. would never have done that to her, and I don't think she thought about that. I don't think she thought I was referring to that.

Q: Did you put a date restriction? Did you make it clear to Mrs. Currie that you were only asking her whether you were never alone with her after 1997?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, I don't recall whether I did or not, but I assumed – if I didn't, I assumed she knew what I was talking about, because it was the point at which Ms. Lewinsky was out of the White House and had to have someone WAVE her in, in order to get in the White House. And I do not believe to this day that I was – in 1997, that she was ever there and that I ever saw her unless Betty Currie was there. I don't believe she was.

Q: Do you agree with me that the statement, "I was never alone with her", is incorrect? You were alone with Monica Lewinsky, weren't you?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, again, it depends on how you define alone. Yes, we were alone from time to time, even during 1997, even when there was absolutely no improper contact occurring. Yes, that is accurate. But there were also a lot of times when, even though no one could see us, the doors were open to the halls, on both ends of the halls, people could hear. The Navy stewards could come in and out at will, if they were around. Other things could be happening. So, there were a lot of times when we were alone, but I never really thought we were. And sometimes when we, when – but, as far as I know, what I was trying to determine, if I might, is that Betty was always around, and I believe she was always around where I could basically call her or get her if I needed her.

Q: When you said to Mrs. Currie, you could see and hear everything, that wasn't true either, was it, as far as you knew? You've already –

PRESIDENT CLINTON: My memory of that –

Q: – testified that Betty was not there.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: My memory of that was that, that she had the ability to hear what was going on if she came in the Oval Office from her office. And a lot of times, you know, when I was in the Oval Office, she just had the door open to her office. Then there was – the door was never completely closed to the hall. So, I think there was – I'm not entirely sure what I meant by that, but I could have meant that she generally would be able to hear conversations, even if she couldn't see them. And I think that's what I meant.

Now, I could have been referring not generally to every time she was there, but one, one particular time I remember when Ms. Lewinsky was there when I asked Betty – and I'm sorry to say for reasons I don't entirely remember – to actually stay in the dining room while I talked with Monica. I do remember one such instance.

Q: Well, you've already testified that this – you did almost everything you could to keep this relationship secret. So, would it be fair to say – even from Mrs. Curtis. She didn't know about the nature, that is, your intimate, physically intimate relationship with Ms. Lewinsky, did she?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: As far as I know, she is unaware of what happened on the, on the occasions when I saw her in 1996 when something improper happened. And she was unaware of the one time that I recall in 1997 when something happened.

I think she was quite well aware that I was determined to impose the appropriate limits on the relationship when I was trying to do it. And the – you know, anybody would hope that this wouldn't become public. Although I frankly, from 1996 on, always felt that if I severed inappropriate contact with Ms. Lewinsky, sooner or later it would get public. And I never thought it would be part of the Jones case. I never even thought about that. I never thought – I certainly never thought it would be part of your responsibilities.

Q: My question was –

PRESIDENT CLINTON: But I did believe that she would talk about it.

Q: My question was more simple than that. Mrs. Currie

did not know of the physically intimate nature of your relationship, did she?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I don't believe she did, no.

Q: Okay. So, you would have done – you tried to keep that nature of the relationship from Mrs. Currie?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Absolutely. I –

Q: So, you would not have engaged in those physically intimate acts if you knew that Mrs. Currie could see or hear that, is that correct?

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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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