The White House yesterday issued a 33-page white paper contradicting a published account of a Jan. 27 barroom occurrence in which presidential aide Hamilton Jordan was slapped by a young woman.
The account in Sunday's Washington Post Magazine asserted that Jordan was struck after spitting his drink down the woman's blouse.
"I did not say or do anything that night to any woman that was improper, and I categorically deny that I spat my drink on anyone. I did have an unpleasant encounter with a woman at the bar, but it was not precipitated by me of anything that I had done," Jordan said in a statement released by the White House.
The Washington Post stands by its story.
Reporter Rudy Maxa, the author of the article, said: "My wife and I have been acquainted with the woman in question for six years and know her to be an intelligent, professional woman."
Max said his version was corroborated by two witnesses - a woman friend of the person who delivered the slap and a man who was present.
The White House rebuttal issued yesterday rested heavily on the statements of Daniel V. Marshall III, a bartender at Sarsfield's at 2524 L St. NW, where the incident occurred.
"There were a few heated words spoken, but no spitting," Marshall told White House attorney Michael Cardozo.
According to the statements released yesterday, Jordan went to the bar about 10 p.m., after attending a party for Democratic National chairman John White and a birthday party. He was accompanied by John Golden, a longtime friend who now works on the Democratic National Committee.
Marshall's version of what happened is that Jordan was quickly surrounded by young women who wanted to be near the "celebrity." He said Jordan "woofed down" a steak and drank a beer and two Amaretto-and-creams.
The women were coming up to Jordan "and 'woo-woo,' you know what I mean?" Marshall asked. It appeared to him that one of them "got insulted" after Jordan made it clear he had "pretty much had enough of these girls falling all over him." Marshall said the women had been drinking for some time.
Marshall said his view of the slapping incident was blocked, but Golden said in his statement that he "saw a sudden move and the girl attempted to strike Mr. Jordan and possibly made contact with him." The two men hastily left without paying. Marshall said Golden paid the bill three days later.
Jordan had been "on good behavior that night," Gorden asserted.
The after-work manners of Jordan, who recently separated from his wife, have raised Washington social eyebrows before. At a party given by television anchorwoman Barbara Walters in December, Jordan was reported to have turned to the wife of Egyptian Ambassador Ashraf Ghorbal, pulled at her bodice and commented: "I've always wanted to see the pyramids."
Jordan denied this report.
Maxa said yesterday that his sources had told him that the bartender was at the other end of the bar when Jordan spat and therefore could not have seen anything.
Maxa's article said that Jordan had come to the bar and, after introducing himself as "Harvey Phillips," attempted to strike up a conversation with an attractive advertising copywriter.
"When he failed to distract her from a conversation with another man, Jordan filled his mouth with his drink and spewed it down the front of her blouse." the article went on. The unnamed woman said she "turned around and he spat again, over a girl's head and down her blouse. I just couldn't believe it." Bartender Marshall depicted the women as the aggressors in the encounter.
Presidential press secretary Jody Powell said yesterday that he had obtained a copy of the magazine Friday morning, two days before publication and was "just horrified." Powell did not explain how the White House had received the magazine, except to say with a laugh: "There's a leak at The Washington Post."
Maxa said he called the White House to request a comment before the magazine went to press, but his call was not returned. After Powell obtained the copy of the story on Friday, he called Maxa and denied the account.
Marshall described himself as a bartender with seven years' experience in Washington who "is known as one of the more competent bartenders in Washington as far as amount of product I can put over the bar and the type of clientele that I handle."
He said that he believed the woman and her friend had a final bill of $14 - a sum that would have paid for eight vodkas. However, Maxa said yesterday that he was told the bill was $5 and that each woman had one drink. Marshall said Jordan's bill came to $23 - but included a steak and drinks for three or four people.