The Ties By Charles R. Babcock
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 22, 1998; Page A30
To Monica S. Lewinsky, who loved ties since she worked at a men's necktie store in college, the six ties she gave President Clinton as gifts were precious reminders of their time together. "Almost all our conversations included something about my ties," she testified. "I used to bug him about wearing one of my ties because then I knew I was close to his heart."
To Bill Clinton, ties were such a common gift from friends and acquaintances that he had a closet full of them. He said in his grand jury testimony that he recycled some of them, offering them as gifts to elevator and kitchen workers at the White House.
To prosecutors in Kenneth W. Starr's office, Lewinsky's gifts of ties to the president seemed to be of enormous interest, both in documenting the mutual exchanges of gifts and in trying to determine whether the president was using the ties to try to signal Lewinsky.
The evidence released by Congress yesterday includes pictures of the president wearing a tie Lewinsky gave him, and a note he sent in September 1996 thanking her for a birthday tie. "I appreciate your continued thoughtfulness and generosity," it said. "Hillary and I send our best wishes." In a handwritten note, Clinton added: "The tie is really beautiful."
In her testimony, Lewinsky recalled that Clinton wore one particular yellow gift tie several times. She said she thought he might wear it before her grand jury appearance "because I thought he's just the kind of person that's going to wear this tie to tug on my emotional strings one last time before I go to the grand jury and say this under oath. And he didn't."
A grand juror asked how she felt when she saw White House steward Bayani Nelvis wearing a tie she gave the president. "I had two very different thoughts. My first thought was, 'You jerk, you're trying to show me how little you care about me and how little this meant to you by giving it-to show me that you gave it to someone else, it meant so little to you now.'
"And my second thought was that it was some sort of message of some sorts. I don't know what." During his videotaped testimony, the president rejected a prosecutor's suggestion that he gave Nelvis that particular tie by design.
Lewinsky said picking out ties was "a big thing for me . . . and I liked to give him ties and I liked to see him wearing them." In fact, a memo of a prosecutor's interview with Lewinsky dated Aug. 11 spent nearly two pages describing in detail the six ties she gave the president and the times she saw him wearing them.
On one occasion during the 1996 campaign she recalled yelling to the president at a rally, "Hey, handsome, I like your tie."
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