Friend Questions Blumenthal Testimony
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 7, 1999; Page A10
A veteran British journalist and social friend of senior Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal has challenged Blumenthal's testimony that he had no knowledge of any White House effort to paint Monica S. Lewinsky as a "stalker."
In an affidavit signed Friday, Christopher Hitchens, who writes for Vanity Fair and the Nation, said Blumenthal, at a lunch last March 19, "used the word 'stalker' several times" in talking about Lewinsky.
At the lunch, also attended by Hitchens's wife, Carol Blue, Hitchens said Blumenthal said Lewinsky "had been a 'stalker' and that the President was 'the victim' of a predatory and unstable sexually demanding young woman," according to the one-page affidavit. "Mr. Blumenthal advised us that this version of the facts was not generally understood" about President Clinton's relationship with Lewinsky.
Blumenthal had testified to the Senate that Clinton had mentioned the word "stalker" in a conversation and felt himself a victim of Lewinsky's advances.
A central allegation against Clinton in his impeachment trial is that he had Blumenthal and others smear Lewinsky to undermine her credibility. News media accounts disparaging Lewinsky sometimes cited White House sources.
Blumenthal was asked in his Senate testimony whether he had "any idea how White House sources are associated with statements such as . . . 'She's known as the Stalker.' Do you have any idea how that got in the press?"
Blumenthal responded, "I have no idea how anything came to be attributed to a White House source."
Yesterday, Blumenthal said in a statement: "My testimony to the Senate was truthful. If someone is saying it's not, they are mistaken."
In the affidavit, Hitchens said he and Blumenthal "are social friends and journalistic acquaintances" and that "I have knowledge that Mr. Blumenthal recounted to other people in the journalistic community the same story about Monica Lewinsky that he told me and Carol Blue."
One journalist who refused to be identified by name said last night that he recalled in late spring hearing Blumenthal talk about Lewinsky being troubled and Clinton having rebuffed her advances.
But that journalist said he had read much the same information months earlier.
Negative news accounts referring to Lewinsky's alleged obsession with Clinton and with sex began appearing in the media several weeks before Hitchens's lunch with Blumenthal. For example, a Jan. 29 article in The Washington Post cited as sources Lewinsky's own friends and co-workers and a former teacher from Portland, Ore., who had a five-year affair with her.
Sources said House investigators, acting on a tip, called Hitchens to ask about Blumenthal's statements and that Hitchens submitted the affidavit.
In it, Hitchens said that during the lunch, Blumenthal also discussed Kathleen E. Willey, who had accused Clinton of unwanted advances.
"Mr. Blumenthal stated that Kathleen Willey's poll numbers were high but would fall and would not look so good in a few days," said Hitchens, who has written articles sharply critical of the president and his administration.
Even without the Hitchens affidavit, some Republican senators said yesterday they believed Blumenthal was not telling the truth.
"The great irony of this is that he may be the other person who lied under oath and he may have to do the time," said Sen. Larry E. Craig (R-Idaho).
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