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Vernon E. Jordan Jr.
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Full text of Saturday's White House response. The Starr report is also online.

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Key Player: Vernon E. Jordan Jr.

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Friend's Efforts Are a Key Facet of Case

By Roberto Suro
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, September 13, 1998; Page A29

On the evening of Dec. 19, 1997, Vernon E. Jordan Jr., the powerful Washington attorney, met alone with his close friend President Clinton in the White House residence for a ten-minute chat. The subject was Monica S. Lewinsky, who just that day had been subpoenaed in the Paula Jones lawsuit.

Jordan, who had met with Lewinsky that afternoon to help her find an attorney, told Clinton that she was "fascinated" by the president and curious to know whether Jordan expected him to stay married to Hillary Rodham Clinton after they left the White House. Clinton listened with "some amazement," Jordan recalled.

This meeting, along with several other encounters and dozens of phone calls, recounted in independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr's impeachment report to Congress, reveal in greater detail than ever before Jordan's key role in Clinton's damage control efforts after Lewinsky became enmeshed in the Jones sexual harassment suit against the president.

Jordan's efforts to secure legal counsel for Lewinsky and find her a job in New York were key elements in the original investigative mandate that allowed Starr to look into the Lewinsky matter and those efforts figure prominently in two of the 11 possible grounds for impeachment that Starr referred to the House of Representatives last week. In one charge, Clinton is alleged to have lied under oath about conversations with Jordan and in another, Clinton is accused of obstructing justice by enlisting Jordan to help Lewinsky find work in New York after she had been called as a potential witness in the Jones case.

On Jan. 6, Lewinsky consulted with Jordan about the precise wording of her affidavit in the Jones suit falsely swearing she had never had a sexual relationship with the president; she likened Jordan's approval to having the document "blessed" by Clinton. Half an hour later, the lawyer called the president.

Two days later, after signing the affidavit, the former White House intern had a disappointing interview with top executives at MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings Inc., the parent corporation of Revlon, one of the firms where Lewinsky was seeking employment with Jordan's help.

The Starr report reveals that after hearing from a crestfallen Lewinsky on Jan. 8, Jordan called the chairman and chief executive officer of MacAndrews, Ronald Perelman, "to make things happen," as Jordan testified. Perelman told investigators that in the 12 years Jordan had served on Revlon's board of directors, he could not recall Jordan ever calling to recommend anyone else for a job. Lewinsky eventually got a job offer from Revlon; it was withdrawn after the Starr investigation became public.

In its response to the Starr report yesterday, the White House labeled the allegation that the president perjured himself regarding Jordan "a fabrication" and said that there is no evidence that Clinton acted "corruptly" when he tried to help Lewinsky get a job.

Jordan has denied any wrongdoing in the Lewinsky matter. He has noted that on Dec. 19, he asked both Lewinsky and Clinton whether they had sexual relations and both responded there had been none.

But according to Lewinsky's testimony, she made her feelings toward Clinton so clear to Jordan that at one point, he said to her, "you're in love, that's what your problem is." When she denied that they were having sex, she said she assumed Jordan knew "with a wink and a nod that [she] was having a relationship with the president."

So, the Starr report said, when Jordan asked her about her how she intended to depict their relationship for the Jones lawyers, "she interpreted Mr. Jordan's questions as 'What are you going to say' rather than 'What are the [actual] answers . . . ?' "

The White House rebuttal notes that it was Lewinsky rather than Clinton who first suggested that the attorney might help her find work. That occurred in mid-October 1997 as the relationship between Clinton and Lewinsky was deteriorating, according to her testimony, because she had realized Clinton would never fulfill promises to bring her back to work at the White House.

During a late night argument over the telephone, Lewinsky a complained about her ruined life so much that "he got so mad at me, he must have turned purple," she testified. The next day, Oct. 11, 1997, during a conciliatory meeting at the White House, she suggested Jordan could help her find work and Clinton agreed.

According to the Starr report, Jordan did little to help Lewinsky until after the Jones lawyers had listed her as a potential witness in early December. That chronology, according to Starr, leads to the inference that the job assistance was intended by Clinton to help persuade her not to tell the truth about their relationship.


© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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