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Independent counsel
Kenneth Starr
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Starr Accused of Employing Intimidation

By Peter Baker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 8, 1998; Page A20

The attorney for Monica S. Lewinsky accused independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr yesterday of using strongarm tactics to pressure the former White House clerk to "say things that we can't say" in accusing President Clinton of misconduct.

William H. Ginsburg, who has been representing Lewinsky in negotiations with Starr's office, said the prosecutor has tried to coerce her to testify by intimidating her family and selectively leaking information designed to make her think he has other witnesses and therefore might not need her cooperation as much.

"It's all pressure, all an orchestrated campaign to get my client to do more than she can or will do," Ginsburg said in a telephone interview from Los Angeles. "We were not asked to lie, but obviously by implication -- " Ginsburg added, and then paused. "We've given them a proffer. They gave us immunity. Then they reneged. What do you think they want? They want us to say things that we can't say. This is an orchestrated campaign."

Starr, met by reporters as he arrived at Washington National Airport yesterday, declined to discuss the collapsed talks with Ginsburg. "I can't comment on that," he said. "There may be litigation. We simply don't know."

The angry words from Ginsburg suggested chances are dwindling that Lewinsky will voluntarily cooperate in Starr's investigation into whether Clinton committed perjury by denying an affair with her in the Paula Jones case and obstructed justice by encouraging Lewinsky to lie as well. A Friday deadline set by Starr for Lewinsky to agree to cooperate on terms acceptable to him passed without any agreement and the two sides now are arguing over whether Ginsburg can enforce what he said was an immunity deal previously offered by the independent counsel's office.

If he cannot obtain her cooperation voluntarily, Starr has two options that ultimately may force her to testify anyway. He can have her granted limited immunity that would protect her from prosecution based on her own testimony, which would mean she could not invoke the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and therefore would have to tell her story under oath or risk imprisonment for contempt. Or he can prosecute her, presumably for charges such as perjury or subornation of perjury, and if he wins, she likewise would no longer be able to refuse to testify.

Ginsburg said he has a letter offering Lewinsky immunity in exchange for her testimony and plans to file a motion in federal court on Tuesday asking a judge to force Starr to live up to the terms.

However, other sources familiar with the discussions have said Starr rejected a written cooperation proposal submitted by Ginsburg Monday because the prosecutor does not believe it is complete and consistent. In the proffer, according to the sources, Lewinsky acknowledged having a sexual relationship with the president despite an affidavit she swore out in the Jones case denying such an affair. But the sources added that her account of whether Clinton encouraged her to lie to Jones's lawyers -- as she reportedly told her onetime friend Linda R. Tripp -- was seen as muddled and inconsistent.

Starr also has insisted that he be able to interview Lewinsky face to face to evaluate whether she is now telling the truth before he grants any protection from prosecution, something he has said he has not been able to do.

Ginsburg disputed that yesterday, saying he had arranged time on Wednesday for Starr's staff to interview Lewinsky in Los Angeles, where she has been staying with her father. He said that was the reason he brought his fellow attorney, Nathaniel Speights, to California with them in the first place.

Ginsburg, who said he and Lewinsky plan to return to Washington on Wednesday or Thursday, complained about Starr's pressure on her relatives. Prosecutors have been talking to Lewinsky's mother, Marcia Lewis, and FBI agents yesterday also visited Lewinsky's brother, a sophomore at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pennsylvania, for the second day in a row

"He basically said, 'I don't know anything about my sister's business or social life,' " Ginsburg said of Michael Lewinsky. The lawyer said he was not sure how many agents visited but assumed it was at least three. "That's 27 bullets you have, if you've got three of them, in case a witness gets out of hand," he said.

Ginsburg complained that Monica Lewinsky, 24, who started at the White House as an intern in 1995 and eventually was given a job handling congressional correspondence, was caught between Clinton and Starr who are engaged in a "jousting match in which my client is just a pawn."

Separately yesterday he issued a written statement blasting Starr for suggesting Friday that Ginsburg could be the secret source of news media reports that the White House has blamed on the independent counsel. "Mr. Starr," Ginsburg said, "is making reckless and inane accusations against others as the source of the leaks and campaign of disinformation and clearly attempting to evade and avoid the responsibility for his office's unethical, unlawful and abusive acts."

Starr said Friday he had no evidence that his office had leaked information out of grand jury proceedings and pointed out that others, including Clinton lawyers and Ginsburg, had possession of important details. But he also launched an internal investigation to determine whether his staff had divulged information improperly.

In another forum, Ginsburg yesterday also changed his version of a key detail regarding Lewinsky's relationship with Clinton. In an essay co-authored with Speights in the Time magazine scheduled to be on newsstands Monday, Ginsburg said investigators took the wrong copy of a poetry book, Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass," when they searched Lewinsky's apartment in late January. According to his essay, agents took "a paperback version, not even the one the President gave Monica, which, by the way, wasn't even signed by him."

In a previous television interview, however, Ginsburg said the book was signed by Clinton, although he characterized it as a benign "best wishes" type of inscription.


© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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