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Grounds for Impeachment, No. V

From independent counsel Kenneth Starr's report to the House on President Clinton. Some of the language in these documents is sexually explicit.

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V. There is substantial and credible information that President Clinton endeavored to obstruct justice by engaging in a pattern of activity to conceal evidence regarding his relationship with Monica Lewinsky from the judicial process in the Jones case. The pattern included:

(i) concealment of gifts that the President had given Ms. Lewinsky and that were subpoenaed from Ms. Lewinsky in the Jones case; and

(ii) concealment of a note sent by Ms. Lewinsky to the President on January 5, 1998.

From the beginning, President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky hoped and expected that their relationship would remain secret. They took active steps, when necessary, to conceal the relationship. The President testified that "I hoped that this relationship would never become public."(213)

Once the discovery process in the Jones case became an issue (particularly after the Supreme Court's unanimous decision on May 27, 1997, that ordered the case to go forward), their continuing efforts to conceal the relationship took on added legal significance. The risks to the President of disclosure of the relationship dramatically increased.

An effort to obstruct justice by withholding the truth from the legal process -- whether by lying under oath, concealing documents, or improperly influencing a witness's testimony -- is a federal crime.(214) There is substantial and credible information that President Clinton engaged in such efforts to prevent the truth of his relationship with Monica Lewinsky from being revealed in the Jones case.

A. Concealment of Gifts


1. Evidence Regarding Gifts

Ms. Lewinsky testified that in the early morning of December 17, at roughly 2:00 or 2:30 a.m., she received a call from the President.(215) Among other subjects, the President mentioned that he had Christmas presents for her.(216)

On December 19, 1997, Monica Lewinsky was served with a subpoena in connection with the Jones v. Clinton litigation. The subpoena required her to testify at a deposition on January 23, 1998.(217) The subpoena also required Ms. Lewinsky to produce "each and every gift including, but not limited to, any and all dresses, accessories, and jewelry, and/or hat pins given to you by, or on behalf of, Defendant Clinton."(218) After being served with the subpoena, Ms. Lewinsky became concerned because the list of gifts included the hat pin, which "screamed out at me because that was the first gift that the President had given me."(219)

Later that same day, December 19, 1997, Ms. Lewinsky met with Vernon Jordan and told him of her concern about the gifts, including the hat pin.(220) During that meeting, Ms. Lewinsky asked Mr. Jordan to inform the President that she had been subpoenaed.(221) Mr. Jordan acknowledged that Ms. Lewinsky "was concerned about the subpoena and I think for her the subpoena ipso facto meant trouble."(222)

Shortly after Christmas, Ms. Lewinsky called Ms. Currie and said that the President had mentioned that he had presents for her.(223) Ms. Currie called back and told her to come to the White House at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, December 28, 1997.(224) On December 28, Ms. Lewinsky and the President met in the Oval Office. According to her testimony, Ms. Lewinsky "mentioned that [she] had been concerned about the hat pin being on the subpoena and he said that that had sort of concerned him also and asked [her] if [she] had told anyone that he had given [her] this hat pin and [she] said no."(225) According to Ms. Lewinsky, she and the President discussed the possibility of moving some of the gifts out of her possession:

[A]t some point I said to him, "Well, you know, should I -- maybe I should put the gifts away outside my house somewhere or give them to someone, maybe Betty." And he sort of said -- I think he responded, "I don't know" or "Let me think about that." And [we] left that topic.(226)

Ms. Lewinsky testified that she was never under the impression from anything the President said that she should turn over to Ms. Jones's attorneys all the gifts that he had given her.(227)

On the 28th, the President also gave Ms. Lewinsky several Christmas gifts. When asked why the President gave her more gifts on December 28 when he understood she was under an obligation to produce gifts in response to the subpoena, Ms. Lewinsky stated:

You know, I can't answer what [the President] was thinking, but to me, it was -- there was never a question in my mind and I -- from everything he said to me, I never questioned him, that we were never going to do anything but keep this private, so that meant deny it and that meant do -- take whatever appropriate steps needed to be taken, you know, for that to happen . . . . So by turning over all these gifts, it would at least prompt [the Jones attorneys] to want to question me about what kind of friendship I had with the President and they would want to speculate and they'd leak it and my name would be trashed and he [the President] would be in trouble.(228)

Ms. Lewinsky testified that a few hours after their meeting on December 28, 1997, Ms. Currie called her.(229) According to Ms. Lewinsky, Ms. Currie said: "'I understand you have something to give me.' Or, 'The President said you have something to give me' -- [Something] [a]long those lines."(230) In her February 1 handwritten statement to the OIC, which Ms. Lewinsky has testified was truthful, she stated: "Ms. Currie called Ms. L later that afternoon a[nd] said that the Pres. had told her [that] Ms. L wanted her to hold onto something for her. Ms. L boxed up most of the gifts she had received and gave them to Ms. Currie."(231)

Ms. Lewinsky testified that she understood that Ms. Currie was referring to gifts from the President when she mentioned "something for me."(232) Ms. Lewinsky testified that she was not surprised to receive the call, given her earlier discussion with the President.(233)

Ms. Currie testified that Ms. Lewinsky, not Ms. Currie, placed the call and raised the subject of transferring the gifts. In Ms. Currie's account, Ms. Lewinsky said that she (Ms. Lewinsky) was uncomfortable retaining the gifts herself because "people were asking questions about the stuff she had gotten."(234) Ms. Currie also testified that she did not remember the President telling her that Ms. Lewinsky wanted her to hold some items, and she did not remember later telling the President that she was holding the gifts for Ms. Lewinsky.(235) When asked if a contrary statement by Ms. Lewinsky -- indicating that Ms. Currie had in fact spoken to the President about the gift transfer -- would be false, Ms. Currie replied: "Then she may remember better than I. I don't remember."(236)

According to both Ms. Currie and Ms. Lewinsky, Ms. Currie drove to Ms. Lewinsky's home later on December 28 for only the second time in her life.(237) Ms. Lewinsky gave her a sealed box that contained several gifts Ms. Lewinsky had received from the President, including the hat pin and one of the gifts he had given her that very morning.(238) Ms. Lewinsky wrote "Please do not throw away" on the box.(239) Ms. Currie then took the box and placed it in her home under her bed. Ms. Currie understood that the box contained gifts from the President, although she did not know the specific contents.(240) Ms. Lewinsky said that Ms. Currie did not seem at all confused when Ms. Lewinsky handed over the box of gifts(241) and never asked about the contents.(242)

When Ms. Currie later produced the box to the OIC in response to a subpoena, the box contained a hat pin, two brooches, an inscribed official copy of the 1996 State of the Union Address, a photograph of the President in the Oval Office, an inscribed photograph of the President and Ms. Lewinsky, a sun dress, two t-shirts, and a baseball cap with a Black Dog logo.(243)

2. The President's Grand Jury Testimony

President Clinton testified that he had spoken to Ms. Lewinsky about gifts he had given her, but said the conversation may have occurred before she received the subpoena on December 19. He testified:

I did have a conversation with Ms. Lewinsky at some time about gifts, the gifts I'd given her. I do not know whether it occurred on the 28th, or whether it occurred earlier. I do not know whether it occurred in person or whether it occurred on the telephone. I have searched my memory for this, because I know it's an important issue. . . . The reason I'm not sure it happened on the 28th is that my recollection is that Ms. Lewinsky said something to me like, what if they ask me about the gifts you've given me. That's the memory I have. That's why I question whether it happened on the 28th, because she had a subpoena with her, request for production. And I told her that if they asked her for gifts, she'd have to give them whatever she had, that that's what the law was.(244)

The President denied that he had asked Betty Currie to pick up a box of gifts from Ms. Lewinsky:

Q: After you gave her the gifts on December 28th [1997], did you speak with your secretary, Ms. Currie, and ask her to pick up a box of gifts that were some compilation of gifts that Ms. Lewinsky would have --

WJC: No, sir, I didn't do that.

Q: -- to give to Ms. Currie?

WJC: I did not do that.(245)

* * * *

Q: [D]id you ever have a conversation with Betty Currie about gifts, or picking something up from Monica Lewinsky?

WJC: I don't believe I did, sir. No.

Q: You never told her anything to this effect, that Monica has something to give you?

WJC: No, sir.(246)


3. Summary of Gifts

The uncontroverted evidence demonstrates that the President had given gifts to Ms. Lewinsky before December 28, 1997; that the President told Ms. Lewinsky on the phone on December 17, 1997, that he had more gifts for her; that Ms. Lewinsky met with the President at the White House on December 28; that on the 28th, Ms. Lewinsky was concerned about retaining possession of the gifts the President had previously given her because they were under subpoena; that on the 28th, the President gave several Christmas gifts to Ms. Lewinsky; and that after that meeting, Ms. Lewinsky transferred some gifts (including one of the new gifts) to the President's personal secretary, Ms. Currie, who stored them under her bed in her home.

Ms. Lewinsky testified that she spoke to the President on December 28 about the gifts called for by the subpoena -- in particular, the hat pin. The President agreed that they talked about gifts, but suggested that the conversation might have taken place before Ms. Lewinsky was subpoenaed on December 19. The President said, however, that his memory is unclear on the timing.(247)

The testimony conflicts as to what happened when Ms. Lewinsky raised the subject of gifts with the President and what happened later that day. The President testified that he told Ms. Lewinsky that "you have to give them whatever you have."(248) According to Ms. Lewinsky, she raised the possibility of hiding the gifts, and the President offered a somewhat neutral response.

Ms. Lewinsky testified that Betty Currie called her to retrieve the gifts soon after Ms. Lewinsky's conversation with the President. Ms. Currie says that she believes that Ms. Lewinsky called her about the gifts, but she says she has a dim memory of the events.(249)

The central factual question is whether the President orchestrated or approved the concealment of the gifts. The reasonable inference from the evidence is that he did.

1. The witnesses disagree about whether Ms. Currie called Ms. Lewinsky or Ms. Lewinsky called Ms. Currie. That issue is relevant because Ms. Currie would not have called Ms. Lewinsky about the gifts unless the President directed her to do so. Indeed, because she did not know of the gifts issue, there is no other way that Ms. Currie could have known to make such a call unless the President told her to do so.

Ms. Lewinsky's testimony on the issue is consistent and unequivocal. In her February 1, 1998, handwritten statement, she wrote: "Ms. Currie called Ms. L later that afternoon a[nd] said that the Pres. had told her Ms. L wanted her to hold onto something for her."(250) In her grand jury testimony, Ms. Lewinsky said that several hours after she left the White House, Ms. Currie called and said something along the lines of "The President said you have something to give me."(251)

Ms. Currie's testimony is contrary but less clear. Ms. Currie has stated that Ms. Lewinsky called her, but her memory of the conversation, in contrast to Ms. Lewinsky's, generally has been hazy and uncertain. As to whether she had talked to the President about the gifts, for example, Ms. Currie initially said she had not, but then said that Ms. Lewinsky (who said that Ms. Currie had talked to the President) "may remember better than I. I don't remember."(252)

Ms. Lewinsky's testimony makes more sense than Ms. Currie's testimony. First, Ms. Lewinsky stated that if Ms. Currie had not called, Ms. Lewinsky simply would have kept the gifts (and perhaps thrown them away).(253) She would not have produced the gifts to Ms. Jones's attorneys. And she would not have given them to a friend or mother because she did not want to get anyone else involved.(254) She was not looking for someone else to take them.(255)

Also, Ms. Currie drove to Ms. Lewinsky's house to pick up the gifts. That was only the second time that Ms. Currie had ever gone there.(256) More generally, the person making the extra effort (in this case, Ms. Currie) is ordinarily the person requesting the favor.

2. Even if Ms. Lewinsky is mistaken and she did call Ms. Currie first, the evidence still leads clearly to the conclusion that the President orchestrated this transfer.

First, it is unlikely that Ms. Lewinsky would have involved Ms. Currie in this matter unless the President had indicated his assent when Ms. Lewinsky raised the issue with him earlier in the day. Indeed, there is a logical flaw in the President's story: If the President had truly suggested that Ms. Lewinsky produce the gifts to Ms. Jones's attorneys, Ms. Lewinsky obviously would not have turned around and called the President's personal secretary to give the gifts to her, in direct contravention of the President's instruction.

Second, it also is unlikely that Ms. Currie would have driven to Ms. Lewinsky's home, retrieved the gifts from Ms. Lewinsky, and stored them under her bed at home without being asked to do so by the President -- at least, without checking with him. It would have been out of character for Ms. Currie to have taken such an action without the President's approval. For example, when helping Ms. Lewinsky in her job search, Ms. Currie said that she told the President of her plans and agreed that she "would not have tried to get Ms. Lewinsky a job if . . . [I] thought the President didn't want [me] to."(257)

3. Even if the President did not orchestrate the transfer to Ms. Currie, there is still substantial evidence that he encouraged the concealment and non-production of the gifts by Ms. Lewinsky. The President "hoped that this relationship would never become public."(258) The President gave Ms. Lewinsky new gifts on December 28, 1997. Given his desire to conceal the relationship, it makes no sense that the President would have given Ms. Lewinsky more gifts on the 28th unless he and Ms. Lewinsky understood that she would not produce all of her gifts in response to her subpoena.

4. The President had a motive to orchestrate the concealment of gifts, whether accomplished through Ms. Currie indirectly or through Ms. Lewinsky directly. The President knew that Ms. Lewinsky was concerned about the subpoena. Both of them were concerned that the gifts might raise questions about the relationship. By confirming that the gifts would not be produced, the President ensured that these questions would not arise.

The concealment of the gifts also ensured that the President could provide false and misleading statements about the gifts under oath at his deposition (as he did) without being concerned that Ms. Lewinsky might have produced gifts that the President was denying (or minimizing the number of). If Ms. Lewinsky had produced to Ms. Jones's attorneys all of the gifts that she had given to Ms. Currie, then the President could not plausibly have said "I don't recall" in response to the question, "[H]ave you ever given any gifts to Monica Lewinsky?" He could not have said, "I don't remember a specific gift."(259) Indeed, unless the President knew that Ms. Lewinsky had not complied with the subpoena, it is unlikely he would have risked lying about the number and nature of the gifts he had given her.

In analyzing the evidence on this issue, it also bears mention that President Clinton likely operated no differently with respect to the gifts than he did with respect to testimony. It is clear that he lied under oath and that Ms. Lewinsky filed a false affidavit after the President suggested she file an affidavit. So there is little reason that he would not have attempted to ensure (whether directly or subtly) that Ms. Lewinsky conceal the gifts as a corollary to their mutual lies under oath. (Also, it was the President's pattern to use Ms. Currie as an intermediary in dealing with Ms. Lewinsky.(260))

The President's apparent response to all of this is that Ms. Lewinsky on her own contacted Ms. Currie and involved her in this endeavor to hide subpoenaed evidence, and that Ms. Currie complied without checking with the President. Based on the testimony and behavior of both Ms. Currie and Ms. Lewinsky, those inferences fall outside the range of reasonable possibility.

There is substantial and credible information, therefore, that the President endeavored to obstruct justice by participating in the concealment of subpoenaed evidence.

B. January 5, 1998, Note to the President

1. Evidence Regarding the January 5, 1998 Note

On December 16, 1997, the President was served by Ms. Jones's attorneys with a request for production of documents, including documents relating to "Monica Lewisky" [sic]. The request placed upon the President a continuing obligation to preserve and produce responsive documents. Notes and letters from Ms. Lewinsky were responsive and relevant.

On January 4, 1998, Ms. Lewinsky left a book for the President with Ms. Currie.(261) Ms. Lewinsky had enclosed in the book a romantic note that she had written, inspired by a recent viewing of the movie Titanic.(262) In the note, Ms. Lewinsky told the President that she wanted to have sexual intercourse with him, at least once.(263)

On January 5, in the course of discussing her affidavit and possible testimony in a phone conversation with the President, Ms. Lewinsky says she told the President, "I shouldn't have written some of those things in the note."(264) According to Ms. Lewinsky, the President said that he agreed and that she should not write those kinds of things on paper.(265)

On January 15, President Clinton served responses to Ms. Jones's second set of document requests, which again asked for documents that related to "Monica Lewisky." The President stated that he had "no documents" responsive to this request.(266)

2. President Clinton's Testimony

The President remembered the book Ms. Lewinsky had given him about the Presidents and testified that he "did like it a lot."(267) President Clinton testified that he did not recall a romantic note enclosed in the book or when he had received it.(268)

3. Summary on January 5, 1998, Note

The request for production of documents that the President received from Ms. Jones's attorneys called for all documents reflecting communications between him and Ms. Lewinsky. The note given to him by Ms. Lewinsky on January 5, 1998, fell within that category and would have been revealing about the relationship. Indeed, had the note been produced, the President might have been foreclosed from denying a sexual relationship at his deposition. Based on Ms. Lewinsky's testimony, there is substantial and credible information that the President concealed or destroyed this note at a time when such documents were called for by the request for production of documents.(269)

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