By Susan Schmidt and Peter Baker
Monica S. Lewinsky's lawyer yesterday said he has given independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr a detailed account of what Lewinsky's testimony would be if she is granted immunity by Starr's office in its investigation of President Clinton.
Attorney William H. Ginsburg said he is awaiting a reply to what he described as a "complete proffer" to attorneys for Starr just as prosecutors prepare to bring their first witnesses and evidence before a federal grand jury here today. Ginsburg said in an interview he made an oral presentation of Lewinsky's proposed testimony to Starr's staff but declined to say what it would be. Starr's office declined to discuss the talks with Ginsburg.
"We have made a complete proffer and we are waiting for Judge Starr to decide what to do," Ginsburg said. "We have given him everything that Ms. Lewinsky would say if she is debriefed."
Starr's office has been searching aggressively for other witnesses or evidence that could establish that Clinton and Lewinsky had a sexual relationship, though it was unclear what progress it has made.
Investigators are seeking to interview Secret Service agents to determine if they may have observed any intimate encounters between Clinton and Lewinsky, according to sources familiar with the investigation, but it was not known if any interviews took place yesterday.
Ginsburg said he knows of no other witnesses with first-hand knowledge of any sexual encounters between the two.
"In my opinion, this is a one-witness case," he said. "Judge Starr has one witness and that witness is Monica Lewinsky. She is still, I believe, critical to Judge Starr's position."
Lewinsky, a 24-year-old former White House intern, yesterday made her first appearance in public since the scandal erupted into public view last Wednesday, as Ginsburg drove her from her Watergate apartment to a downtown law office, where they huddled all day. "She is getting stronger," Ginsburg told reporters gathered outside the building. "She does not like being isolated. We kept her under wraps at the Watergate as you all know. We intend to continue keeping her under wraps."
Ginsburg and Starr have been at loggerheads over a cooperation agreement for more than a week as the Los Angeles attorney demanded full immunity for his client and the independent counsel insisted first on a full accounting of what she would testify to. Until yesterday, Ginsburg had promised that Lewinsky would tell the full truth if protected from prosecution, but Starr's lawyers were unsure of what precisely she would say.
Ginsburg has declined to give Starr a written proffer, which is a standard prosecution tool for allowing potential targets to describe what information they could provide in exchange for leniency.
Attorneys for Clinton, meanwhile, asked a federal judge yesterday to move up the Paula Jones sexual harassment trial, now scheduled to begin May 27, because the case is being used "to destroy the President" and has mushroomed into such a media maelstrom that it distracts from important domestic and foreign issues.
"We ask for this relief because it is important not only to the President, but to the institution of the Presidency," wrote Clinton's lawyer, Robert S. Bennett.
With Clinton scheduled to give the State of the Union address to Congress tonight, Starr's office plans to put off for at least a day grand jury testimony from some of the key witnesses in the investigation, including Lewinsky's onetime friend Linda R. Tripp, who recorded conversations with Lewinsky and gave the audiotapes to Starr, and Clinton friend Vernon E. Jordan Jr., who is alleged to have urged Lewinsky to lie about an affair with the president.
Prosecutors and FBI agents are likely to present the grand jury with some of the physical and documentary evidence they have gathered, including some of the more than 20 hours of tape recordings of conversations between Tripp and Lewinsky.
The White House plans to turn over today many -- but not all -- of the documents sought by a Starr subpoena, a senior administration official said. Starr has sought entry logs, videotapes, message slips and other records that prosecutors believe could establish that Clinton and Lewinsky had an intimate relationship. The official said that the rest of the materials will be turned over when they are collected and that Clinton does not plan to assert executive privilege over any of the records.
Starr is also seeking a copy of Clinton's Jan. 17 sworn deposition in the Jones case, in which sources have said he denied having a sexual relationship with Lewinsky. However, Jones's lawyers had not received a subpoena by late afternoon.
In a Jan. 7 sworn affidavit that she gave in the Jones case, Lewinsky said she had never had a sexual relationship with Clinton. But on the tape recordings made surreptitiously by Tripp, Lewinsky purportedly described a sexual affair with Clinton that began in late 1995, months after she began work as a White House intern, and lasted until he began to distance himself from her last August.
In the Tripp tapes and a recording the FBI made with Tripp's help Jan. 13, sources said, Lewinsky talked about being pressed by Clinton and Jordan to conceal the truth about the relationship when questioned in the Jones suit.
Jones's lawyers have subpoenaed and interviewed women they think may have had sexual encounters with Clinton as part of an effort to show his behavior toward Jones fit a pattern. They sought out Lewinsky after receiving anonymous calls about her.
On one of the tapes, according to a source familiar with their contents, Lewinsky reportedly told Tripp she placed a personal ad in The Washington Post last Valentine's Day that was intended for the president. On the tape, Lewinsky reportedly said that Clinton was "ga-ga" over the ad, which quoted lines from "Romeo and Juliet," was addressed to "Handsome" and was signed "M," according to the source. Such an ad did in fact appear in the Post last Feb. 14. It read:
"With love's light wings did
Ginsburg said yesterday he was not aware of the Valentine. "I literally have no idea," he said.
The independent counsel's office now has 10 to 12 lawyers working on the Lewinsky matter, along with about as many FBI agents. Starr has expanded into an adjacent suite of space in the Pennsylvania Avenue office. The White House has had five or six aides working full time collecting relevant documents.
In his motion seeking a speedier trial in the Jones case, Bennett did not specify when he wanted it to be rescheduled and U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright in Little Rock will wait for a response from the Jones team before deciding whether to grant the request. Jones's lawyers said in a statement that the motion "reads more like a press release than a legal pleading" but did not say whether they would resist the move.
By asking for a trial sooner, Clinton advisers hope to avoid having to endure four more months of political battering and may be able to short-circuit the search for more women who would be asked about reports of sexual relations or advances by the president.
Bennett presumably also would have an opportunity to try to discredit reports of an affair with Lewinsky in a civil court, rather than wait until Starr completes his investigation.
In his six-page motion, Bennett argued that all of the dire consequences he predicted when he tried to get the lawsuit delayed until after Clinton left office have come to pass. In a unanimous decision last year, the Supreme Court rejected those concerns and ruled that the Jones lawsuit should go forward.
He also alleged that Starr's office, intentionally or not, "has joined forced with Paula Jones" and accused the Jones camp of taking advantage of the controversy to issue a flurry of last-minute subpoenas in the hunt for other women.
The motion essentially vented much of the frustration the White House feels these days with the media, Starr and Jones. "The President is being tarred in the media; gossip, innuendo and hearsay are being passed off as fact," it said. "Allegations by unnamed sources are claimed to be credible. Normal journalistic restraint has been abandoned by the broadcast media in their competition to be first on the air with titillating allegations. In short, raw and salacious material is being placed in the public forum without providing the public the means to evaluate the credibility of the information."
Donovan Campbell Jr., one of the Jones attorneys, disputed that they have collaborated with Starr. "That is completely incorrect," he said. "Our office had absolutely no connection with the Office of the Independent Counsel until Sunday, when as a professional courtesy they called us to let us know that a subpoena would be forthcoming."
In a related matter, a Democratic Party organization in Howard County has asked the county prosecutor to conduct a grand jury investigation into whether Tripp violated state law by secretly recording conversations with Lewinsky from her home in Columbia.
In a faxed letter to Republican State's Attorney Marna McLendon, the Columbia Democratic Club cited Maryland law barring the taping of telephone conversations in the state without the consent of the person being taped. The law imposes a maximum sentence of five years' imprisonment and $10,000 in fines.
McLendon issued a statement yesterday saying it would be "premature" to pursue an inquiry now because it would "needlessly interfere with" the ongoing Starr investigation. Also, McLendon noted, the telephone tapes are in Starr's possession and thus not available to her office. Starr has granted Tripp immunity from prosecution.
McLendon nevertheless said she viewed the question of the tapes' legality as a serious matter and made a point of saying her office had decided to "defer" the issue while the federal investigation continues.
Maryland law, one of the most restrictive in the nation, permits the taping of telephone calls only with the consent of both parties or by court order in law enforcement actions. A 1995 ruling by the state Court of Special Appeals also held that people surreptitiously recording others cannot be held criminally liable unless it can be shown they were aware of the anti-taping law.
Staff writers Paul W. Valentine and Bob Woodward contributed to this report.
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