By Peter Baker and Susan Schmidt
The magazine reported that Lewinsky seemed obsessed with Clinton on the tapes its reporter heard but left ambiguous whether there was a physical relationship. The tapes were made in October, after the alleged affair between Clinton and Lewinsky had ended and before she was subpoenaed to testify in the since-dismissed Paula Jones lawsuit.
Unable to reach Clinton by telephone, Lewinsky consulted with one-time friend Linda R. Tripp about sending the president an audiotape offering to visit him some evening and later read aloud a letter to Clinton seeking job help, according to U.S. News. "I want you in my life," Lewinsky said she wrote Clinton, according to the story posted on the magazine's Web site yesterday.
Such a letter would appear to coincide with previously reported efforts by top Clinton aides to help get Lewinsky a job with U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson, who offered her a position that she later turned down.
U.S. News said it reviewed two of the 20 hours of tapes made by Tripp, who turned them over to independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr in January. The magazine said its unnamed source "had no ideological or commercial motivation to favor the president, the independent counsel or any other party in the dispute." Because the reporter was not allowed to keep copies or even make contemporaneous notes, the article contained few direct quotations.
The Washington Post could not verify the authenticity of the U.S. News account yesterday. Tripp attorney Anthony Zaccagnini, former Tripp lawyer Kirby Behre and Tripp friend Lucianne Goldberg all said they did not know the origin of the tapes. Another former Tripp attorney, James Moody, has said he turned over all tapes to Starr.
Starr spokesman Charles Bakaly denied any involvement: "As the article indicates, the Office of Independent Counsel was not the source for access to this information."
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