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Excerpts From Sidney Blumenthal's Testimony

Friday, October 2, 1998

Following are Associated Press excerpts from the grand jury testimony of White House aide Sidney Blumenthal. The transcript was among the evidence that the House Judiciary Committee released Friday.

Q: ... what we want to know initially is everything you remember about ... a 30-minute meeting with the president within a week after the Jan. 21 Washington Post story, which broke in the legitimate press the Lewinsky story. ...

... BLUMENTHAL: ... I was in my office and the president asked me to come to the Oval Office. ... So I went up to the Oval Office ... I had spoken to the First Lady that day in the afternoon about the story that had broke in the morning and I related to the president my conversation ...

The First Lady said that she was distressed that the president was being attacked, in her view, for political motives, for his ministry of a troubled person. She said that the president ministers to troubled people all the time, that he has ministered to -- and he does so out of religious conviction and personal temperament. She said to me on that occasion, ``If you knew his mother, you would understand it.''

As a matter of fact, I did know his mother and once spent a whole day with her in Arkansas as a reporter, and I do understand it. She was a very open-hearted person. ... And I told him my opinion ... that I understand that you feel this way, but --

Q: Feel what way?

BLUMENTHAL: That you want to minister to troubled people, that you feel compassionate, but that part of the problem with troubled people is that they're very troubled and you were able to do this before and I know you've done this since with many people -- and I know of these incidents, I know of -- and they're not done for publicity at all.

I know of a woman in Arkansas who claims he saved her from suicide by helping her out. I said, ``However, you're president and these troubled people can just get you in incredible messes and you just -- I know you don't want to, but you have to cut yourself off from them.''

And he said, ``It's very difficult for me to do that, given how I am. I want to help people.''

I said that he really shouldn't -- ``You really need to not do that at this point, that you can't get near anybody who is even remotely crazy. You're president.'' ...

He said Dick Morris had called him that day and he said that Dick had told him that Nixon -- he had read the newspaper and he said, ``You know, Nixon could have survived Watergate if he had gone on television and given an address and said everything he had done wrong and got it all out in the beginning.''

And I said to the president, ``What have you done wrong?'' And he said, ``Nothing. I haven't done anything wrong.'' I said, ``Well, then, that's one of the stupidest ideas I've ever heard.'' ...

And it was at that point that he gave his account of what had happened to me and he said ... ``Monica Lewinsky came at me and made a sexual demand on me.'' He rebuffed her. He said, ``I've gone down that road before, I've caused pain for a lot of people, and I'm not going to do that again.''

She threatened him. She said that she would tell people they'd had an affair, that she was known as the stalker among her peers, and that she hated it and if she had an affair or said she had an affair then she wouldn't be the stalker anymore.

And I repeated to the president that he really needed never to be near people who were troubled like this... And I said, ``You need to find some sure footing here, some solid ground.''

And he said, ``I feel like a character in a novel. I feel like somebody who is surrounded by an oppressive force that is creating a lie about me and I can't get the truth out. I feel like the character in the novel `Darkness at Noon.'''

And I said to him, I said, ``When this happened with Monica Lewinsky, were you alone?'' He said, ``Well, I was within eyesight or earshot of someone.''

I said, ``You know, there are press reports that you made phone calls to her and that there's voice mail. Did you make phone calls to her?''

He said that he remembered calling her when Betty Currie's brother died and that he left a message on her voice machine that Betty's brother had died and he said she was close to Betty and had been very kind to Betty. ...

Q: Is that everything that you remember about that conversation with the president?


© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

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