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The Starr Report


EVIDENCE
The DNA Test

Tuesday, September 22, 1998; Page A29

A critical piece of evidence cited in the Starr report was the finding that FBI tests concluded that the genetic markers of a semen stain on Monica S. Lewinsky's dress, which matched President Clinton's DNA, are characteristic of 1 in 7.87 trillion Caucasians. While there had been speculation in the media about the dress, the evidence released yesterday provides the first details of the sparring between prosecutors and the president's lawyer, David E. Kendall, over the request to draw a sample of Clinton's blood.

A few hours before President Clinton began his videotaped grand jury testimony Aug. 17, the FBI laboratory informed Starr's office that the president was the source of the DNA taken from Monica S. Lewinsky's navy blue dress "to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty." Handwritten notes on the one-page report read: "CAUC-7,870,000,000,000."

The report concluded a flurry of activity that started July 29, when Lewinsky gave Starr's office a dress worn during a meeting with Clinton. She said the stained garment, which had not been dry-cleaned, might contain evidence that would corroborate her claim that she had a sexual relationship with the president.

Two days later, the lab told prosecutors the dress tested positive for human semen and recommended they obtain a blood sample from "any known subject," according to a summary of the evidence.

The same day, Starr deputy Robert J. Bittman sent a hand-delivered letter to the president's lawyer, David E. Kendall, saying that "investigative demands require" that the president provide a blood sample. Kendall responded later that day. He said that other cases demanded a higher standard of probable cause "for bodily intrusions" and asked for "the precise factual nature" of the request. Citing previous press leaks, Kendall also asked for the results of any tests so "we will be in a position to respond to false leaks."

In another July 29 letter, Bittman said his office had "powerful predication" for its request for a blood sample, but he would not agree to give Kendall test results.

On Aug. 3, the written results of the FBI test were sent to Starr, along with instructions on how to collect a blood samples in one "lavender-top blood vial" containing a preservative.

Kendall wrote Bittman again, agreeing that the president would provide the requested sample under several conditions. Kendall's letter said their correspondence and the test results should be treated confidentially, the sample should be drawn by the White House physician, and Bittman should provide an affidavit outlining his evidence for the request. He also demanded that the FBI lab be instructed to preserve enough of the item being tested "to make possible a later, outside, comparative test of the same type, if appropriate." Bittman agreed to the conditions.

Clinton was busy that day, speaking at a summer jobs event at Prince George's Hospital Center and meeting with the new president of Colombia. His lawyers also were fighting Starr's attempt to subpoena White House attorney Lanny A. Breuer.

At 10:10 p.m. in the Map Room, White House physician Connie Mariano drew 4 milliliters of blood from the president's right arm in the presence of Bittman, Kendall and an FBI agent. Twenty minutes later it was delivered to the FBI lab.

On Aug. 6, the FBI reported to Starr that "the source of specimen K39 [the president] is included as a potential contributor of the DNA" from the dress. "The probability of selecting an unrelated individual at random" was 1 in 43,000 in the Caucasian population.

The lab was able to extract enough DNA from the dress for additional analysis and a more "discriminating match," as Starr's summary of evidence put it.

The FBI's 7.87 trillion-to-1 conclusion was arrived at formally on the morning of Aug. 17. The president began his videotaped grand jury appearance at 1:03 p.m.

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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