By Toni Locy
After a closed-door hearing that lasted more than two hours before Chief U.S. District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson, Carter attorney Charles Ogletree said he is "confident" that he will win the motion to quash the subpoena, which he called an "extraordinary breach of the attorney-client privilege." Johnson's ruling is expected soon, according to Ogletree.
The subpoena demands notes Carter took while he represented Lewinsky and prepared an affidavit for her in the Paula Jones case denying that she had a sexual relationship with President Clinton. It also seeks Carter's testimony before the grand jury.
Clinton friend Vernon E. Jordan Jr., whose testimony before the grand jury is scheduled to resume today, referred Lewinsky to Carter after she received a subpoena in December in the Jones case. Jordan, who also helped Lewinsky find a job in New York, drove Lewinsky to Carter's Washington office on Dec. 22, a few days after arranging Carter's representation of the former White House intern.
Starr is investigating whether the president had a sexual relationship with Lewinsky and then urged her to lie about it under oath in the affidavit Carter submitted to the Jones lawyers in January.
Starr's office had no comment yesterday after the argument on Carter's motion, which was handled by attorney Tom Bienert.
After the hearing, Ogletree said Lewinsky has not waived the attorney-client privilege and is fully supportive of Carter's efforts to protect it. To further emphasize that point, one of Lewinsky's current attorneys, Nathaniel H. Speights, also attended the hearing.
"Miss Lewinsky, in no way, has waived her privilege. She, in no way, has asked us to waive her privilege. She continues to assert her privilege," Ogletree said. "As long as we have [her] authorization to do so and until we are required by the court to do otherwise, we will continue to vigorously challenge this at every single level."
Ogletree called the fight with Starr "important" because it deals with the trust between attorneys and their clients. "When you start to allow the government to intrude on the attorney-client relationship and allow them to pierce the attorney-client privilege, clients will no longer feel a sense of confidence and respect that lawyers should have," Ogletree said.
Ogletree also adamantly denied that Carter had anything to do with the so-called talking points that Lewinsky allegedly gave to Linda R. Tripp to coach Tripp on how to deal with questions posed by Jones's attorneys. "Frank Carter has no knowledge of the talking points. He's never seen the talking points. He's not involved in that," Ogletree said.
Ogletree said "what [Carter] did was what he was required to do as a matter of law and that is, in no way, challenged by the government" in discussions with Carter's lawyers or during the hearing before Johnson.
The news media -- led by The Washington Post, Dow Jones, USA Today, ABC and the New York Times -- filed a formal motion with Johnson seeking access to the Carter hearing, but Johnson did not rule on the request by attorney Ted Boutrous.
As Carter sought to quash the subpoena, critics of Starr asked the Justice Department to weigh in on the independent counsel's conduct. In a letter yesterday to Attorney General Janet Reno, three ranking House Democrats expressed their "profound concern" about Starr's activities and said Reno had the duty to ensure "that these investigations are conducted in a responsible and ethical manner."
The letter took Reno to task for failing to say whether she is looking into allegations of illegal leaks or other prosecutorial misconduct by Starr's office.
Also, a federal prosecutor in South Carolina has forwarded to the Justice Department allegations that Starr concealed perjury while defending General Motors in product-liability lawsuits. U.S. Attorney Rene Josey received a sworn statement from South Carolina attorney Kendall Few alleging Starr concealed false testimony by a General Motors engineer in product liability lawsuits against the automaker.
Starr's office referred questions to General Motors, which called the accusations "unfounded" and said Starr's representation "was proper in every respect."
A Justice Department official said the complaint "is being reviewed; no investigation has been opened."
On Tuesday, Starr got an important boost when Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) went to the floor to defend Starr's involvement in the Lewinsky matter, noting that Reno had requested the investigation. He called on Starr to "make a very forceful public defense" of attacks on his staff by the White House and others, rather than calling critics before the grand jury. Specter blasted the president's expected invocation of executive privilege to shield his staff from questions, calling it "absolutely, positively a stalling tactic."
Staff writers Susan Schmidt and Roberto Suro contributed to this report.
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