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'You Let Me Down'

Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Full Text

From handwritten note by Linda R. Tripp.

Between February and July, as Starr and Lewinsky's lawyers remained locked in a stalemate over whether prosecutors would grant her immunity in exchange for her testimony, Lewinsky remained on hold, awaiting resolution. It came when she changed attorneys in June and her new lawyers, Plato Cacheris and Jacob Stein, began negotiations with the Office of Independent Counsel. On July 28, Lewinsky reached an immunity deal with Starr in which she agreed to testify in return for a guarantee that she would not face prosecution.

Beginning in late July, Lewinsky began preliminary interviews with Starr's lawyers and other investigators. In the interviews, Lewinsky quotes the president as saying that "during his life, he had been two people" and that he had long struggled with the temptations of infidelity. Following are excerpts from a summary of those interviews:

...The President was sitting at his desk in the Oval Office talking on the telephone, presumably to Mrs. CLINTON, as the President ended the call by saying, "I love you." The President and LEWINSKY went into the back office and the President tried to soothe LEWINSKY by saying, "I promise you if I win in November I'll get you back and you can do what you want." ...

...LEWINSKY had once told the President about ANDY BLEILER in Portland. The President said, "I don't want to be like that schmuck in Oregon." ...

The President said that he believed that an unnamed foreign Embassy was listening in on the President's official conversations. The President came up with the ruse that if LEWINSKY was ever questioned to just say that they were friends, and they were just doing it to give people a run for their money. After their private meeting the President and LEWINSKY went into BETTY CURRIE's office, where they sang "Try A Little Tenderness."...

May 24, 1997, was referred to by LEWINSKY as "Dump Day." LEWINSKY had an idea she would see the President on that date. LEWINSKY went shopping with ASHLEY RAINES at VICTORIA's SECRET. CURRIE called LEWINSKY around 11:00 a.m. and told LEWINSKY to come to the White House at about 1:00 p.m. . . .

LEWINSKY did not recall how the conversation started; however, the President stated that he did not feel right about their relationship; it was not right, and the President said he could not do it anymore. LEWINSKY was crying. The President said this did not have to do with LEWINSKY. The President told LEWINSKY that he had been with hundreds of women in his life until he was about 40 years of age. The President told LEWINSKY that when he turned 40 his life was falling apart. LEWINSKY recalled that the President may have told her that, at the above time, he entertained thoughts of ending his life. However, LEWINSKY was not sure about the recollection. [Redacted material follows.] The President told LEWINSKY that he had been good until he met her. LEWINSKY did not believe the President. The President told her how he was attracted to LEWINSKY and how the President thought LEWINSKY was a great person. The President told LEWINSKY that they could remain friends. The President pointed out to LEWINSKY that he could do a lot for her. The President told LEWINSKY that it was difficult for him to resist being with other women. The president struggled with it daily. The president told LEWINSKY that he kept a calender [sic] on how long he had been good. The President explained that during his life he had been two people, and kept up two fronts. The President said that starting in the third or fourth grade, he was a good boy with his mother and stepfather but also began telling stories and leading a secret life. LEWINSKY's impression was that the President was telling her he wanted to be right in the eyes of God.

The President wanted the affair to be over, though he said it was not LEWINSKY's fault. LEWINSKY did not know if the President meant what he said‚. ...

On Aug. 6, Lewinsky appeared before the grand jury. Here are excerpts of her testimony:

Q. At some point, did you talk with him [Clinton] about possibly settling the Paula Jones case?

A. Yes, I had – I had had a thought and then had a conversation with Linda about this and just a way that he could settle the case and I suggested it to him‚. ...

The gist of it is, I thought that first Mrs. Clinton should do something publicly, maybe on a TV show or something, and talk about how difficult the case had been for her and on her daughter and that she just wished that he would settle it and it would go away. And then the president should unannounced and unexpectedly go into the briefing room, make a brief statement that he – in an effort to put this behind him, you know, against his attorney's advice, he was going to pay Ms. Jones whatever it was, however much she wanted, and so that this case would be over with.

Q. Did the two of you talk about how much the settlement amount would be or might be?

A. Yes. I believe at some point I had mentioned that I had recently read the – I think she had lowered her – the amount that she wanted to $500,000 or something lower and he said, "I thought it was a million or two million dollars."

And I thought that was very strange, that he wouldn't know she had – you know, that her lawyers – or his lawyers had not told him that she had lowered her request for money‚. ...

Up until a point that we'll get to, which is December 31st [of 1997], I sort of – mainly, I think, from my discussions with Linda, I was under the impression that – that Mr. Jordan kind of knew with a wink and a nod that I was having a relationship with the president, that it was never – he and I never discussed it, but I thought it might be possible.

I'm, you know, a young woman, sort of coming to see him, the president's mentioned me. But I also was sort of under this influence of Linda saying to me, "Of course he knows. Of course he knows. Of course he knows."

So when he asked me those questions, I thought he was asking me, saying essentially, "What are you going to say?" not necessarily asking me directly what – you know, "What are the answers to these questions?" More "What are you going to reply in regard to the case?"‚. ...

Q. What about the meeting with Linda Tripp?

A. It was long. I was – I was very nervous. I was wary of her. I actually thought she might have a tape recorder with her and had looked in her bag when she had gone up to the restroom. I told her a whole bunch of lies that day.

Q. What were you trying to accomplish in meeting with her?

A. I was trying to – I was trying to make Linda continue to feel comfortable that she and I were sort of on the – that we were on the same side, we were on the right side.

We – and that – when I had agreed to meet with her, I thought we were going to go over kind of her strategy for what she was going to do in the case and then once we got together, she kind of started wavering about what she wanted to do and then – so I just was using everything I knew to try to convince her that – that this is the right thing to do.

Q. I think you mentioned earlier that you told her lies.

A. Yes.

Q. What lies do you have in mind?

A. I mean, I think – throughout that month of December, after I knew she was subpoenaed, there were various things that I think I said that were untrue, but I specifically remember from this meeting the thing that I had – what I said to Linda was, "Oh, you know, I told – I told Mr. Jordan that I wasn't going to sign the affidavit until I got the job." Obviously, which wasn't true.

I told her I didn't yet have a job. That wasn't true. I told her I hadn't signed the affidavit. That wasn't true. I told her that sometime over the holidays I had freaked out and my mom took me to Georgetown Hospital and they put me on Paxil. That wasn't true.

I think I told her that – you know, at various times the president and Mr. Jordan had told me I had to lie. That wasn't true. That's just a small example. Probably some more things about my mom. Linda had an obsession with my mom, so she was a good leverage‚. ...


Q. Did you understand all along that he [Clinton] would deny the relationship also?

A. Mm-hmm. Yes.

Q. And when you say you understood what it meant when he didn't say, "Oh, you know, you must tell the truth," what did you understand that to mean?

A. That – that – as we had on every other occasion and every other instance of this relationship, we would deny it.

On Aug. 17, President Clinton provided videotaped testimony to Starr's lawyers for more than four hours. He then made a nationally televised speech in which he admitted that he had engaged in an inappropriate intimate relationship with Lewinsky and lied about it to aides and to the public. In his speech, Clinton expressed anger about the independent counsel's investigation and did not mention Lewinsky by name. Three days later, on Aug. 20, Starr called Lewinsky back before the grand jury to question her in more detail about her sexual relationship with the president, and to compare her account with the one Clinton had just provided under oath. During this session, several of the grand jurors spoke up to ask Lewinsky detailed questions about her feelings for Clinton, her thinking about getting involved with married men, her conversations with her mother, her relationship with Linda Tripp and other matters. Following are excerpts from Lewinsky's Aug. 20 testimony:

A JUROR: Ms. Lewinsky, when you – now, this is a different kind of subject. When you first made the determination that you were moving to New York and you wanted to explore the possibilities of a job in private industry, can you recall how you first got the recommendation about Vernon Jordan's assistance in this endeavor?

THE WITNESS: I can't. I know that it was – what I don't remember was if it was my idea or Linda's idea. And I know that that came up in discussions with her, I believe before I discussed it with the president or I – I didn't suggest, I asked the president if Mr. Jordan might be able to assist me‚. ...

A JUROR: Was there ever sort of an understanding [with the president] that, well, oral sex isn't really sex? Or did you talk about that?

THE WITNESS: We didn't talk about it‚. ...

THE WITNESS: Can you guys call me Monica? Are they allowed to call me Monica instead of Ms. Lewinsky? I was just –

THE FOREPERSON: If you say so.



THE WITNESS: I'm just 25. Please.

A JUROR: But you'll always be Ms. Lewinsky, whether you're 25 or 28 or –

THE WITNESS: Not if I get married‚. ...

A JUROR: Okay. Your relationship with the president, did your mother at any time try to discourage the relationship?


A JUROR: Well, what kept it going? I mean, what kept it – you keeping it active or whatever?

THE WITNESS: I fell in love.

A JUROR: I beg your pardon? I couldn't hear you.

THE WITNESS: I fell in love.

A JUROR: When you look at it now, was it love or a sexual obsession?

THE WITNESS: More love with a little bit of obsession. But definitely love.

A JUROR: Did you think that the president was in love with you also?

THE WITNESS: There was an occasion when I left the White House and I was pretty stunned at how I felt because I did think that.

A JUROR: You did?


Q. Do you remember the date?

A. It was July 4, 1997.

A JUROR: Were you aware that he was having problems in his marriage? Did this ever spill over in the times that you were together? Did you get a feeling that something was not right, that –

MR. EMMICK: I thought there was a question in the front here.

A JUROR: And today, Monica, do you still love the president?

THE WITNESS: Before Monday, I would have said yes.

A JUROR: So then it is no?

THE WITNESS: I don't know how I feel right now‚. ...

A JUROR: Well, let's – you said the relationship was more than oral sex. I mean, it wasn't like you went out on dates or anything like normal people, so what more was it?

THE WITNESS: Oh, we spent hours on the phone talking. It was emotional.

A JUROR: Phone sex?

THE WITNESS: Not always. On a few occasions. I mean, we were talking. I mean, interacting. I mean, talking about what we were thinking and feeling and doing and laughing.

We were very affectionate, even when – after he broke the relationship off in – maybe, I mean, when I'd go to visit with him, we'd – you know, we'd hug each other a lot. You know, he always used to like to stroke my hair. He – we'd hold hands. We'd smile a lot. We discussed a variety – you know, a wide range of things.

So, I mean, it was – there was a real component of a relationship to it and I just – I thought he had a beautiful soul. I just thought he was just this incredible person and when I looked at him I saw a little boy and – I don't know what the truth is anymore.

And that's, I think, what I took away on Monday, was that I didn't know what the truth was. And so how could I know the truth of my love for someone if it was based on him being an actor‚. ...

A JUROR: It's been reported in the papers that you had a relationship before similar to this, where a lot of hurt and pain came out of this, you know, a lot of hurt and pain toward a family.

And then you turn around and you do it again. You're young, you're vibrant, I can't figure out why you keep going after things that aren't free, that aren't obtainable.

THE WITNESS: Well, there's sort of two parts to that and just to clarify, the way Andy and Kate Bleiler portrayed everything on TV and through their lawyer was pretty inaccurate, so I don't know how much of that is part of your question.

A JUROR: The only part I know is that he was a married man with a wife and a family.

THE WITNESS: That's true.

A JUROR: Like I know about the president.


A JUROR: He was a married man and it wasn't no secret of that fact. But yet you want to talk about truth, a real component, honesty. It all seems so – like a fantasy. That's why I asked you earlier about obsession.

THE WITNESS: That's a hard question to answer because obviously there's – there's work that I need to do on myself. There are obviously issues that – that – you know, a single young woman doesn't have an affair with a married man because she's normal, quote-unquote. But I think most people have issues and that's just how mine manifested themselves.

It's something I need to work on and I don't think it's right, it's not right to have an affair with a married man. I never expected to fall in love with the president. I was surprised that I did.

And I didn'tmy intention had really been to come to Washington and start over and I didn't want to have another affair with a married man because it was really painful. It was horrible. And I feel even worse about it now‚. ...

A JUROR: And I also – I want to let you know that we're not here to judge you in any way. I think many of us feel that way.

THE WITNESS: I appreciate that. But I understand that every – you know, this is – this is a topic that – there are a lot of people think it's wrong and I think it's wrong, too. I understand that.

A JUROR: I had to ask that you (sic) question because I've had to ask other questions and it wouldn't have been right for me not to ask you the question –


A JUROR: – that I've had to ask –

THE WITNESS: I think it's fair and I think you should – I think it's a fair question. It's a hard one to answer. No one likes to have their weaknesses splayed out for the entire world, you know, but I understand that. And I'd rather have you understand where I'm coming from, you know, and you'd probably have to know me better and know my whole journey to how I got here from birth to now to really understand it. I don't even understand it. But – I understand. I respect your having to ask that question and I appreciate what you're saying, whatever your name is‚. ...

That you had asked me about the relationship and being untruthful and things like that. And I just – this is something that's sort of been on my mind since this whole thing started.

I have never – I don't – I certainly believe I have ever told a lie to hurt anybody, that I sort of – some of the ways in which I grew up, it was – there were secrets and inherent in a secret is a lie and so I just – you know, I – I just thought I'd tell you that‚. ...

A JUROR: How much did your mom really know?

THE WITNESS: She knew – she knew that I was having a relationship with the president. She knew that – she knew that I was certainly emotional about it and that it made me miserable a lot and that sometimes I was elated and sometimes I was miserable, but I didn't – you know, I – I might have said something to her like, "We fooled around," but I – not – she didn't know as much as I led Linda to believe she knew. Is that –

A JUROR: Yes‚. ...

A JUROR: okay. One specific question that people have is when did you learn that Linda Tripp had been taping your phone conversations?

THE WITNESS: I believe that I didn't learn the extent to which she had taped my conversations, until I read it in the press.

I learned that day that she had worn a wire at the lunch and that I – and that there had been other people, I think in the restaurant that had been listening in and – so I knew – she had – she had said that they had done the same thing to her and she tried to hug me and she told me that this was the best thing for me to do and – oh‚. ...

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