By Susan Schmidt and Peter Baker
The former intern and correspondence clerk was cleared to enter the White House complex for most visits by President Clinton's personal secretary, Betty Currie, the sources said. Last week Currie appeared before a grand jury that is investigating whether Lewinsky and Clinton had a sexual relationship and then lied about it under oath to lawyers in the Paula Jones sexual harassment lawsuit.
As Lewinsky fled the media glare in Washington for her father's Los Angeles home yesterday, administration officials offered no explanation for the large number of visits she made to the White House and refused to say whether she spent time with Clinton on those occasions. They would also not say when the visits occurred.
The White House has refused to release records that would show when Lewinsky entered and exited the complex and who cleared her in. Those records have been turned over under subpoena to independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr.
As Starr's investigation of Lewinsky and Clinton continues, much of his effort is devoted to learning if any effort was made to buy her silence about the alleged relationship by arranging for her to have a job in New York. Sources said yesterday that within 24 hours after Lewinsky swore out an affidavit on Jan. 7 in which she denied having a sexual relationship with the president, Clinton confidant Vernon E. Jordan Jr. placed a call directly to Revlon's billionaire chairman, Ronald O. Perelman, to line up a job for her with Revlon. Days later she was offered the job.
It is not uncommon for former aides and interns to return from other government agencies to visit friends at the White House. The logs kept by the Secret Service are not d efinitive: In some instances Lewinsky could have have been cleared for admission but not actually entered. It is also possible there were other visits that were not reported. The records also do not show whether Lewinsky went to the West Wing, where the Oval Office is located, or to the Old Executive Office Building next door. The number of visits was first reported in yesterday's New York Times and confirmed by sources familiar with the logs.
According to sources who have heard secretly recorded conversations Lewinsky had with onetime friend Linda R. Tripp, another former White House aide, Lewinsky said she visited Clinton fairly often and had sex with him until last summer. At that point their sexual relationship for the most part ended, Lewinsky said on the tapes, because of allegations that appeared in print about Clinton's having had a sexual encounter with another White House aide, Kathleen Willey.
Lewinsky said on the tapes that she and Clinton had frequent late-night phone conversations in the beginning of fall and that she began visiting the White House with some frequency again in late October. Then and over the next few months, Lewinsky -- distraught over the end of her relationship with the president, according to the tapes -- began looking for a job in New York, something she discussed with Clinton and Jordan.
Lewinsky was also worried during this period about getting subpoenaed to testify in the Jones case, according to sources familiar with the tapes. She told Tripp that Clinton assured her that the Jones lawyers would never find her in their effort to locate women that Clinton may have made sexual advances toward.
But, in fact, she did turn up on the list of proposed witnesses compiled by Jones's lawyers -- a list sent to the president's lawyer Dec. 5. Five to 10 days later, according to a source knowledgeable about the job search, Lewinsky wrote to Revlon's parent company, MacAndrews & Forbes Group, citing Jordan -- a member of the company board -- as a reference. Jordan followed up with a phone call to someone in the company, the source said, and Lewinsky was interviewed before Christmas.
MacAndrews & Forbes did not have a job for her, but it arranged an interview for her at Revlon for Jan. 7 or 8. At that point, sources said, Jordan called Perelman to recommend Lewinsky, who had just left her job as a confidential secretary at the Pentagon. The effort made by Jordan -- one of Washington's most prominent lawyers -- to place the 24-year-old Lewinsky by calling one of New York's corporate titans on her behalf is the latest suggestion that she was given extraordinary treatment in her job search.
Starr continued to bring more witnesses before a Washington grand jury yesterday, including another former White House intern and former Clinton adviser George Stephanopoulos. And his staff engaged in delicate discussions with the White House over the scheduled testimony of several presidential aides and whether they may be protected in part by executive privilege.
Stephanopoulos, who occupied a cubbyhole office right near the Oval Office until he resigned his job as a senior adviser to Clinton a year ago, appeared before the grand jury about three hours, emerging afterward to tell reporters that he discussed the workings of the White House and his faint impression of Lewinsky.
"I had met her," he said outside the federal courthouse. "I was aware of her as an intern. I ran into her at Starbucks a couple of times. I have no firsthand knowledge at all about the nature of the relationship, if any, between the president and Monica Lewinsky."
The grand jury also heard from Caroline Self, 20, another former intern, who while working at the White House signed for packages Lewinsky sent to Clinton's office addressed to his personal secretary, Betty Currie. "I know of no improper relationship between the president and Monica Lewinsky and any other White House intern," Self said afterward, echoing similar statements from other former White House officials called to testify in the last week.
Starr is still working to obtain the testimony of several current White House officials. Deputy counsel Bruce R. Lindsey, an old Arkansas friend of Clinton's and perhaps his closest confidant in the White House, was supposed to testify today but his appearance has been delayed. Deputy chief of staff John D. Podesta is scheduled to testify Thursday, although that too may be changed.
The White House is not trying to block all testimony from Lindsey and Podesta but has expressed concern to Starr's office about questions that might violate presidential confidentiality. White House officials do not want their colleagues to be grilled about information they learned about the Lewinsky matter in meetings with Clinton. An administration official familiar with the talks said no executive privilege has been asserted formally yet, although that may be the ultimate decision if acceptable parameters cannot be worked out.
On another front, the Clinton forces continued their effort to move up the date the Jones lawsuit is scheduled to go to trial. In a motion filed in U.S. District Court in Little Rock, Clinton attorney Robert S. Bennett accused the Jones camp of breaking a confidentiality order in the case.
Bennett wrote that "sanctions against plaintiff would be appropriate," but the better course would be to start the trial on March 23, rather than May 27 as it is currently set. "We believe that an expedited resolution of this matter is the only way to stop the case from threatening to engulf the President and the presidency," Bennett wrote.
Bennett has separately tried to counterattack with several subpoenas intended to link Jones to the "vast right-wing conspiracy" described last week by Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Bennett tried to subpoena a conservative New York lawyer, George E. Conway III, who apparently was involved in helping with Jones's legal briefs, but sources said Conway ducked a process server. Pretrial discovery in the case ended Friday, so Conway cannot now be served unless the judge agrees to extend research gathering.
Bennett also issued a subpoena to Kirkland & Ellis, Starr's law firm and where he still works part time, to explore whether anyone there was helping the Jones camp. The Chicago Tribune has reported that it was faxed a copy of an affidavit in the Jones case in November from someone at Kirkland & Ellis before it was officially filed in court; the firm is based in Chicago and has a Washington office.
However, the firm denied any involvement in the case. "Kirkland & Ellis has done no work on the Paula Jones case," said Jack S. Levin, a senior partner.
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