Monica S. Lewinsky was recently questioned by state prosecutors investigating whether Linda R. Tripp broke Maryland law when she taped conversations with Lewinsky, and Lewinsky's answers were presented to a Howard County grand jury last week, it was reported yesterday.
Lewinsky met with State Prosecutor Stephen Montanarelli last week in Washington, a Lewinsky acquaintance said. The acquaintance said Lewinsky was given the option to appear before the grand jury but declined.
"She felt the questioning was very limited, almost pro forma," said the acquaintance, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
"I anticipated this would happen," said Tripp attorney Joe Murtha. "It's an essential element to determine whether there was consent" from Lewinsky for taping.
Lawyers for Lewinsky would not confirm or deny the report in the yesterday's Baltimore Sun. Montanarelli, who is conducting the Tripp investigation, also refused to discuss whether Lewinsky had provided testimony. "I can only say it is going well and we're moving as expeditiously as possible," Montanarelli said.
Legal experts said Lewinsky's testimony would be needed to establish that she did not know she was being taped by Tripp and did not consent to it. In Maryland, it is illegal to tape phone calls without consent of all parties. The experts said that establishing lack of consent is a legal formality.
Maryland law calls on Montanarelli to establish two points: that the tapes were made and that Tripp knew she was breaking the law when she made them.
Tripp recorded more than 25 of her phone conversations with Lewinsky during the latter half of 1997. The tapes, which were the catalyst for the White House impeachment trial, were turned over to independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr under a federal grant of immunity. Although Montanarelli has tried to obtain one or more of the tapes, it is unclear whether he has done so.