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Starr: Probe 'Moving With Good Speed'

By Susan Schmidt and Bill McAllister
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, February 2, 1998; Page A09

Independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr said yesterday his investigation of the Monica Lewinsky matter is moving swiftly, even as the former White House intern's attorney seemed to hand him a few new leads during a flurry of Sunday talk show appearances.

"We're moving with good speed," said Starr in a brief interview with CNN outside his home. His office, he said, is "trying to assemble the facts and get to the truth as quickly as we can."

Lewinsky's attorney, William H. Ginsburg, appeared on five talk shows, making sometimes conflicting and ambiguous public statements about the case, but also providing bits of information that could move the investigation along.

For example, Ginsburg confirmed that Lewinsky owns a share of a condominium in Australia, and said it was possible -- as reported this weekend -- that she was secretly tape-recorded offering it to Linda R. Tripp, a former White House aide who befriended Lewinsky when both worked at the Pentagon.

Lewinsky made the offer in January, according to a source familiar with Tripp's account of events, with the understanding that Tripp would deny knowing about Lewinsky's claims to have had a sexual relationship with President Clinton. Tripp, who provided Starr with the secret tape-recordings of conversations in which Lewinsky described her relationship with the president, was about to be questioned under oath by lawyers in Paula Jones's sexual harassment case against Clinton.

"There is a small condominium in Australia, but I don't think it's worth very much and I don't think it's easy to access," said Ginsburg on Fox's "News Sunday." "I haven't heard the tapes or the context of the tapes. If she said that, it's entirely possible because she does have it."

Ginsburg was not able to shed much light on who, if anyone, helped Lewinsky prepare talking points for Tripp on what she should tell Jones's lawyers. Asked if presidential adviser Bruce Lindsey gave her the talking points, Ginsburg said, "I don't believe he did, but I have no knowledge of that."

Time is reporting in today's editions that Tripp called Lindsey last summer to alert him to news media interest in reporting on a pass Clinton allegedly made at another White House employee, Kathleen Willey. Time said Tripp and Lindsey talked several times about the Willey matter.

Willey has said in a deposition in the Jones case that Clinton kissed and groped her in the Oval Office, according to sources familiar with the deposition. Tripp, who has said she ran into Willey in a White House hallway soon afterward, was quoted in Newsweek in August as saying Willey appeared disheveled but happy as she confided the president had made a pass at her. In a portion of the talking points document that has surfaced publicly, Tripp was urged to say she now believes Willey had manufactured the encounter with the president, smearing her lipstick to look the part.

Lindsey has been subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury investigating the Lewinsky matter, according to one source. The White House refused to confirm whether he has been summoned or whether it will try to prevent his appearance by asserting attorney-client or other privilege.

In one interview yesterday, Ginsburg reiterated his denial Friday night that Tripp overheard Lewinsky talking on the phone to Clinton. In another interview, however, he backed away from that assertion. Isn't it possible she could have heard one side of such a conversation while at Lewinsky's apartment, he was asked on NBC's "Meet the Press." "I suppose that's true," he said.

Ginsburg suggested he may have been in contact with lawyers for the president but said he is not seeking an "alliance" with them to thwart Starr's investigation. "I am interested in what they're doing, and I am following what they're doing, and we do have a cordial relationship," he said. "Lawyers do talk, but amongst themselves. But I have no alliance plan."

Democrats have attacked Starr's investigation. Speaking to reporters in Iowa on Saturday, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) predicted no other prosecutor will ever have such broad powers. "I think we should just let Starr continue his investigation, get it done. Let it all come out in the wash and then it's going to be a cold day in hell, I think, before there's another special prosecutor with as broad a grant of authority again, Democrat or Republican," Biden said.

But Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) called Democratic charges that Starr's investigation was politically motivated "just pure bunk. . . . Every time he turns around, he finds another lead that has to be followed up."

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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