Lindsey Returns to Grand Jury
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, August 29, 1998; Page A06
After five months of resistance that went all the way to the Supreme Court, presidential confidant Bruce R. Lindsey returned to the grand jury yesterday to face questions in the Monica S. Lewinsky investigation. But his appearance did not end the fight over his testimony.
Lindsey, a friend of President Clinton since their Arkansas days and now the deputy White House counsel, spent nearly four hours with the grand jury apparently addressing lines of inquiry that were not considered subject to attorney-client privilege.
The questioning was designed to focus on questions that would not reignite the long-running dispute over Lindsey's conversations with the president, which the White House maintains are protected from disclosure. The White House would not say whether Lindsey refused to answer any questions, but there were none of the signs that usually indicate a dispute over testimony in the closed grand jury room, such as lawyers rushing to a judge's chambers or filing sealed papers at the appeals court.
In a separate development, another grand jury investigating a different aspect of the case has received evidence that one of Starr's chief witnesses, Linda R. Tripp, may have known she was violating Maryland wiretapping laws when she secretly recorded conversations with Lewinsky talking about her affair with the president.
RadioShack said yesterday that it provided the grand jury in Howard County, where Tripp lives, with sales records indicating she purchased a telephone recording device that included warnings that taping conversations without the consent of all parties "is illegal in some states." In addition, store employees are required in Maryland to verbally warn customers of the state law, and two RadioShack employees have testified. Tripp has denied knowing about the law.
Lindsey has been a key figure in the Lewinsky investigation, and the White House has battled longest and hardest to protect him from questioning by independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr. Lindsey played the intermediary between Clinton and his personal attorneys during the Paula Jones case and consulted with grand jury witnesses or their lawyers after Starr launched his investigation into possible obstruction of justice.
In one ruling, Chief U.S. District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson chastised Lindsey for overstepping his bounds as a White House attorney. "The court questions the propriety of the president utilizing a government attorney as his personal agent in a personal attorney-client relationship," Johnson wrote.
During three previous grand jury appearances, Lindsey declined to answer questions about as many as 19 subjects, citing either executive privilege or attorney-client privilege. After Johnson rejected those claims, the White House dropped the executive privilege argument and lost an appeal on attorney-client privilege, which it last week appealed again to the Supreme Court.
Lindsey would not say whether he would answer all questions as he entered the courthouse, saying, "I don't know what they're going to ask me."
In Maryland, meanwhile, a RadioShack clerk testified that he told Tripp about the state law when he sold her the recording device last year, the Baltimore Sun reported yesterday. Under Maryland's tough wiretap law, prosecutors must prove not only that defendants recorded conversations without the consent of the person being called but also that they knew they were violating the law.
Sources close to Tripp challenged the clerk's reported account. "We categorically deny that any such conversation ever took place," said one. "If . . . there is a RadioShack corporate policy of advising customers concerning the Maryland statute, clearly in this instance company employees failed to observe that policy."
Tandy Corp., the store's Texas-based parent company, yesterday acknowledged supplying the grand jury records of Tripp's purchase and said two employees testified under subpoena. The company added that its policy is to tell customers it is "illegal to record someone without their consent in the state of Maryland."
A warning on the package of the $24.95 Multi-Phone Recording Control device reportedly purchased by Tripp cautions users that it "is illegal in some states to record a conversation without the consent of all parties. . . . Check the law of your area before using the two-way record feature."
Staff researcher Nathan Abse contributed to this report.
© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company