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White House Lawyers' Letter to Judiciary

Tuesday, September 22, 1998

Following is the text of a letter sent by two of President Clinton's lawyers on Tuesday to the leaders of the House Judiciary Committee, challenging the fairness of independent counsel Kenneth Starr's report to Congress.

September 22, 1998

The Honorable Henry J. Hyde
Chairman, House Judiciary Committee

The Honorable John Conyers, Jr.
Ranking Minority Member
House Judiciary Committee


When we met earlier this month, you kindly offered to accept from us any submissions we wished to make that would bear on the Committee's preliminary review of the Independent Counsel's Referral. We write today to bring to the Committee's attention a critical flaw in the Referral – a flaw that we believe calls into question the fairness of the entire process underlying the Referral and should lead the members, at the very least, to question the factual premise on which it rests and the legal conclusions it draws.

As we indicated to you on September 11 and September 14, we feared, even before reading the Independent Counsel's Referral, that it would be a one-sided and unfair manipulation of the evidence and the law. Yesterday's release of Ms. Lewinsky's testimony made clear that our fears were, if anything, understated.

It is plain now from the 3200 page appendices to the Starr Referral that the Office of Independent Counsel (OIC) has significantly distorted the testimony of Ms. Lewinsky, quoting it when it suited the OIC's purposes and downplaying it or ignoring it when it did not. The OIC ignored all reasonable standards of fairness in preparing and drafting its Referral. The Referral is stunning in its silence about evidence that supports the President.

Ms. Lewinsky consistently has maintained that neither the President nor anyone acting on his behalf ever urged her to lie, about anything. Aware that this would be her testimony, the OIC did not ask her any questions that might elicit this exculpatory testimony in the grand jury and ended its interrogation of her without clarifying this key point. After the OIC prosecutor announced "We don't have further questions," it was left to a grand juror to ask Ms. Lewinsky if she wished to add to, amplify, or clarify her previous testimony, whereupon Ms. Lewinsky stated:

"I would. I think because of the public nature of how this investigation has been and what the charges aired [sic], that I would just like to say that no one ever asked me to lie and I was never promised a job for my silence."

App. 1161 (8/20/98 Lewinsky testimony)

As this plainly indicates, Ms. Lewinsky also testified that the efforts of Vernon Jordan to find her a job were not part of any scheme to obstruct justice or buy her testimony.

The decision by Mr. Starr to specifically exclude Ms. Lewinsky's exculpatory statements and express denials raises grave questions about the fundamental fairness of the Starr Referral. The OIC chose to print over 150 pages of gratuitous and graphic sexual detail but could not find space for a single sentence quoting Ms. Lewinsky's sworn testimony which directly undermines the central obstruction-of-justice allegations in the Referral, and, for that matter, the very basis of the Lewinsky investigation.

We have not yet had a chance to analyze properly the 3200 pages released yesterday by the Committee, but we think the OIC's failure to give a fair presentation of Ms. Lewinsky's testimony is indicative of the one-sided nature of the Referral, a document whose true goal was to embarrass the President and inflame the public. We hope that you and the other distinguished Members of your Committee will proceed with due caution and appropriate fairness as you move forward to review the materials the OTC prosecutors have submitted.

We look forward to making additional submissions to the Committee as its review – and ours – proceed.


Charles F.C. Ruff
Counsel to the President

David H. Kendall
Williams & Connolly

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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