Affidavits Grow in 'Stalker' Dispute
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 9, 1999; Page C1
The matter of Christopher Hitchens vs. Sidney Blumenthal and their friendship-ending flap over who said what to whom about Monica Lewinsky erupted yesterday into a full-fledged Washington controversy.
As President Clinton's impeachment trial continued in the Senate, the following developments came to light:
Hitchens's wife, self-employed writer Carol Blue, signed her own affidavit Sunday, supporting her journalist husband's affidavit stating that White House aide Blumenthal called Lewinsky a "stalker," among other things, at a lunch last March. Blue added the potentially damaging detail that Blumenthal was allegedly quoting the president -- something Blumenthal, in his Senate deposition and grand jury testimony, denied he ever did.
Washington journalist and national security expert Scott Armstrong signed a third affidavit yesterday morning, stating that Hitchens and Blue, in a conversation with him last March, recounted their lunch with Blumenthal, including the alleged "stalker" remarks.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), Clinton's chief prosecutor in the impeachment proceeding over Clinton's fling with the former White House intern, wrote the Senate leadership asking for a motion to subpoena Hitchens, Blue and Armstrong for depositions, and to enter their affidavits in the trial record.
A central allegation against Clinton is that he schemed to obstruct justice by allowing Blumenthal, among others, to make false and misleading statements about Lewinsky to a federal grand jury. News media accounts disparaging Lewin sky sometimes cited White House sources.
"I wish I still lived in Illinois so I could vote for someone different than Henry Hyde for Congress," Armstrong said yesterday, a few hours after a top Hyde staffer secured his affidavit. Armstrong said he agreed to cooperate, notwithstanding his distaste, because he saw no reason to hide the information. But he added that he expressed his "resentment" to Republican staffers after an ABC producer phoned him about his statement before he'd even had a chance to read and sign it. "This is ludicrous. I don't want to become part of any political witch hunt."
But it may be too late. The House impeachment managers are in full cry over Blumenthal and the Washington media-political complex -- of which Hitchens and Blumenthal are prominent members -- is obsessed with the affair. "People keep calling. They don't want to talk about anything else," said a Georgetown resident who was, until Sunday, a friend of both Hitchens and Blumenthal. Now Hitchens, deemed by some a betrayer of a friend and a source, is unwelcome in her house.
"The source I'm ratting is Clinton, not Sidney," the Vanity Fair and Nation columnist insisted yesterday before making a CNN appearance in which he had the hollow-eyed, wild-maned mien of a hunted man. "What I knew revolted me," he added on the air.
According to Armstrong, Republican committee counsel Susan Bogart is apparently on an eleventh-hour hunt for journalists to whom Blumenthal may have fed off-the-record material about Lewinsky. Armstrong, for his part, said he declined to reveal names.
"I said that anything I would have about other people would be gossip and nothing more than gossip," he said, calling this new line of inquiry "a misguided, probably factually inaccurate attempt by the House managers to try and bolster their case."
Bogart refused to comment on her efforts when reached in the Senate Republican cloakroom.
"I'm not going to answer that question," she said. "I'm also, by not answering, not conceding that [Armstrong's] description is an accurate one."
Blue, reached in Menlo Park, Calif., where she and Hitchens live part of the year, explained her reasons for making her own sworn statement. "I was there. I was present. I heard it all," she said of the lunch at the Occidental Grill. "I was one of the parties to the lunch, and everything Christopher said in his affidavit was truthful. . . . I'm with Christopher 100 percent."
She added that, like her husband, she will never name another reporter to whom Blumenthal might have spoken, and will refuse to testify in any proceeding against their former friend. "I would go to jail first," she vowed. She argued that her affidavit -- in which she states, "If called to testify, I would testify on personal knowledge to the following facts . . ." -- was meant to apply only to the impeachment trial.
Blue's sworn statement resembles Hitchens's, with a few notable exceptions. One is her assertion that "Mr. Blumenthal stated that the President told him that he (the President) was the 'victim' of Monica Lewinsky's sexual advances." In another departure, whereas Hitchens's affidavit begins, "I am 49 years of age," Blue's starts, "I am over 18 years of age."
"I don't want everybody to know how old I am," she explained. "I'm quite a bit younger than Hitch. You may want to make something out of it, but I'm not Gary Hart. Girls don't like to reveal their age."
But, alas, in a proceeding in which the president's sex life has been offered up for public consumption, that detail, too, is unlikely to remain hidden for long.
© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company