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Vernon E. Jordan Jr., left, spent a second day before the grand jury. (AP)


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_ Key player profiles of William Ginsburg, Vernon Jordan and Kenneth Starr


Starr, Ginsburg Face Off in Court

By Susan Schmidt and Toni Locy
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, March 6, 1998; Page A01

Several of the central players in the Monica S. Lewinsky drama unexpectedly made appearances at the federal courthouse here yesterday as independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr did battle with Lewinsky's lawyers and Vernon E. Jordan Jr. told the grand jury his account of President Clinton's relationship with the former intern.

Starr and Lewinsky's lawyer, William H. Ginsburg, faced off in an all-day, closed hearing before a federal judge over an immunity deal for Lewinsky that Ginsburg has contended Starr's office agreed to, then reneged on. Lawyers who worked on the agreement gave testimony in the secret session, but Chief U.S. District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson has yet to rule on an issue that now delays Lewinsky's long-awaited testimony.

One floor up in the E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse, Starr's prosecutors put Washington superlawyer Jordan, Clinton's longtime friend, through a long second day of questioning about whether he helped Lewinsky get a job in New York to buy her silence in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case. Jones's lawyers were seeking to question Lewinsky about an alleged sexual relationship with the president.

When he emerged, Jordan told reporters for the first time that he had kept Clinton apprised of his efforts on Lewinsky's behalf but denied his actions were intended to keep her quiet.

"First of all, it is a fact that I helped Monica Lewinsky find private employment in New York. Secondly, it is a fact that I took Monica Lewinsky to a very competent lawyer, Frank Carter, here in Washington, D.C. And thirdly, it is a fact that I kept the president of the United States informed about my activities," he said.

Jordan, as he has before, added that he never told Lewinsky to lie and that there was no "quid pro quo for the affidavit that she signed" in the Jones case denying she had a sexual relationship with the president. That affidavit was sworn out on Jan. 12, within days of Jordan's calling the head of Revlon to help secure Lewinsky a job offer.

"That's the truth, that's the whole truth, that's nothing but the truth," Jordan told the horde of reporters gathered outside the courthouse.

Clinton said in his Jones deposition, according to an account provided to The Washington Post, that he and Jordan discussed Jordan's efforts to find Lewinsky a job, but the president said it was his personal secretary, Betty Currie, who asked Jordan to undertake the effort. A source close to Jordan has said he inferred that Clinton was behind Currie's call.

A source familiar with Jordan's account of events has said he asked both the president and Lewinsky whether they had had a sexual relationship when he learned Lewinsky had been subpoenaed to testify as a witness in the Jones case. Both told him they had not, the source said.

Jordan was reserved when he appeared for testimony Tuesday, but he was more jocular and open yesterday. Jordan, who has publicly pledged his loyalty to Clinton, affirmed he had "kept the faith" yesterday. He said he does not know whether he will be recalled by prosecutors.

One floor away, the sealed hearing before Johnson dealt with accusations made by Lewinsky's attorneys, Ginsburg and Nathaniel Speights. They are asking the judge to force Starr to abide by an agreement to get the former intern's testimony -- an agreement that Starr's office contends was never finalized.

Courthouse sources said that the hearing included testimony from attorneys who were involved in the talks between Starr's office and Lewinsky's legal team. Sources have said that Ginsburg's refusal to allow prosecutors to question Lewinsky directly before signing an agreement was a stumbling block to reaching a deal.

Discussions between Ginsburg and prosecutors broke off weeks ago, and observers expect no movement on obtaining Lewinsky's testimony until Johnson rules on the dispute.

In the last week, Ginsburg has made public statements that contradict what sources have said Lewinsky outlined in a written proffer of her proposed testimony. Ginsburg is now firmly insisting his client had no sexual relationship with Clinton, and that an affidavit she gave to the Jones lawyers in January is accurate.

However, Lewinsky acknowledged a sexual relationship in her proffer, sources familiar with it have said.

When the scandal first broke Jan. 21, it appeared that Starr's lawyers and Ginsburg would eventually reach an accommodation that would allow Lewinsky to testify without facing an indictment. But the hardening of Ginsburg's position appears to limit prosecutors' options, and they may be faced with deciding whether to charge Lewinsky with possible perjury and obstruction.

The normally chatty Ginsburg appeared annoyed with reporters from the moment he arrived at the courthouse about 9:30 a.m. "I have no comment," he said. "This is a federal courthouse. I have no comment at all."

When he left the hearing about 5 p.m., Ginsburg again declined to talk. "We have no statements whatsoever regarding the grand jury and what was going on before the judge," he said.

Starr, who made a rare appearance at the courthouse, arrived and left the courthouse with an escort of deputy marshals through a secure entrance reserved for law enforcement and court personnel. The news media were barred from getting close to him.

The scene outside the building -- already a crush of cameras and reporters -- took on the look of a noisy bazaar, complete with livestock and anti-Clinton protesters who chanted, "Five-six-seven-eight! Married men don't date!" Clinton's lawyer in the Jones case, Robert S. Bennett, who was there for an unrelated appearance, took to the microphones to denounce news leaks.

As Jordan testified in the morning, a group of about 200 people, mostly women, chanted outside the courthouse. "We came to march and picket and to declare that character does count," said Cynthia Neu, 48, of McLean. "We are very upset about how this administration is not willing to tell its story about whether Mr. Clinton participated in perjury."

Neu, who wore a yellow and red sticker that said "Character Does Count," said the women are upset by dismissive attitudes toward Clinton's alleged affair with Lewinsky. She said, "He's not just a man. He's the president of the United States of America."

As the protest ended and the grand jury broke for lunch, Bennett turned up at the courthouse, where he was to be the featured luncheon speaker for the courthouse's law clerks. Several months ago, Starr was the group's featured speaker.

Bennett railed about a story in yesterday's Washington Post that detailed Clinton's sealed deposition in the Jones case. "All I'll say is that the release of President Clinton's deposition was frankly one of the most reckless, reprehensible and unethical things I've seen in this town in a very, very long time," Bennett said.

"We are going to seek relief in court on this," Bennett said. "As all of you know, it is almost impossible to determine how things get leaked. But there can be no doubt that the antagonists of the president -- those who want to hurt him and hurt him badly -- have done this. And it really isn't fair, and it's a terrible thing."

As Bennett left the bank of microphones and headed for Constitution Avenue NW, a mule was seen walking toward the same area. The mule was being led by a member of a group of about 200 black farmers who also were at the courthouse to attend a hearing on a lawsuit they have before another judge alleging that the Department of Agriculture has discriminated against them in giving out federal money.

Making matters even more chaotic, a group of 30 students from suburban Kalamazoo, Mich., entered the courthouse shortly after the black farmers left. The students -- from Portage Central and Northern high schools -- stopped and stared when they saw Jordan stride by.

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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