Monica Lewinsky was questioned by House prosecutors forabout four hours yesterday about President Clinton's alleged efforts to keepher from testifying about their affair, but the deposition ended early becauseClinton's lawyers chose not to use their allotted time.
Instead of asking Lewinsky any questions, one of the president's lawyers,Nicole Seligman, read her an apology on behalf of the president for the ordealshe has been through since civil and criminal investigations of her affairwith Clinton began more than a year ago, according to sources familiar withthe proceeding.
Hoping for new evidence to support their charges that Clinton committedperjury and obstruction of justice to hide the affair, prosecutors beganquizzing the former White House intern shortly after 9 a.m. in a plush suiteat the Mayflower Hotel.
The session broke up early, after White House attorneys declined to askquestions of their own.
That decision might mean that House prosecutors had failed to elicit anynew damaging material that the White House would have felt bound to challenge.
Or it could represent a decision by the presidential lawyers to keepLewinsky's videotaped performance as brief as possible.
In yesterday's deposition, Lewinsky reaffirmed testimony she gave last yearbefore the federal grand jury considering evidence gathered by independentcounsel Kenneth W. Starr, sources said, but it was unclear whether she wentbeyond that testimony.
Videotapes and transcripts of the deposition will be available this morningin a private room in the Capitol for review by senators.
The Senate will vote later this week on whether to have Lewinsky testify inperson at the trial.
Rep. Ed Bryant, the House prosecutor who conducted the questioning ofLewinsky, said afterward that he "felt it was a productive session."
He, the other lawyers involved and the six senators who attended thesession were sworn to secrecy.
Both House prosecutors and the White House took a delicate approach withLewinsky yesterday.
Bryant is a soft-spoken Tennessee Republican with whom the young woman hadseemed comfortable during an earlier interview. Representing Clinton were thetwo women on his legal team: Seligman and Cheryl Mills.
Though Lewinsky had testified under oath about her relationship withClinton on 22 occasions, prosecutors were looking for new details or shades ofinterpretation that would strengthen their case.
The prosecutors face little chance of winning the two-thirds majority votein the Senate necessary for conviction; 44 Democratic senators have voted todismiss the charges without a verdict.
The prosecutors' hope had been that Lewinsky would also set the stage forquestions to be posed today at a second deposition, this one by Vernon Jordan,a presidential confidant.
They are trying to prove that Clinton encouraged Lewinsky to lie abouttheir relationship to attorneys seeking information in the Paula Corbin Jonessexual-misconduct case against him and to hide from them the gifts he hadgiven her.
At the same time, prosecutors charge, the president jump-started efforts byJordan to find a job for Lewinsky, both as a reward and to get her out ofWashington.
Sidney Blumenthal, a top Clinton adviser whose deposition is tomorrow, isexpected to be asked whether Clinton set in motion an effort to destroyLewinsky's credibility by claiming she was "a stalker" whose sexual advanceshe had rebuffed.
There are many conflicts on these points between Lewinsky's previousaccounts and that of Jordan, a fiercely loyal friend of the president. Jordanlast testified before the grand jury on June 9, before Clinton publiclyadmitted the affair.
Those conflicts include Lewinsky's report that she showed Jordan some giftsshe had received from the president; Jordan said he did not recall being shownany.
Lewinsky also testified that she thought Jordan was instructing her todestroy drafts of notes she had written to the president. But he denied evertelling her to destroy documents.
Jordan also testified that he had no reason to doubt Lewinsky's denial ofhaving had a sexual relationship with Clinton. Lewinsky said, however, thatshe had broadly hinted of such a relationship by confiding in Jordan that sheand the president had had phone sex.
None of the lawyers on either side of the case would comment after thedeposition yesterday.
Clinton's private attorney, David E. Kendall, began the day by announcingthat he would seek a contempt-of-court citation against Starr. Kendall claimedthat Starr's office provided information that led to a New York Times reportover the weekend that Starr was considering indicting the president beforeClinton leaves office.
"The Office of the Independent Counsel has once again engaged in illegaland partisan leaking," declared Kendall, who said he had asked the federaldistrict court to cite Starr for "improper violations of grand jury secrecy"in leaking the information.
Starr's office denied leaking the information. The independent counsel saidhe was "deeply troubled" by the Times report, which earned him denunciationsfrom senators of both parties who said they thought he was interfering withthe impeachment trial.
"This office has no desire to inject itself into the constitutional processunder way in the Senate," Starr said in a statement.
He announced that he would investigate the source of the report but saidhis investigation should not be taken as a confirmation of the Times report.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times