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Lewinsky’s Mother Leaves Distraught After Testimony

TIMES STAFF WRITERS

A red-eyed and visibly distraught Marcia Lewis ended her second day of secret testimony Wednesday before a federal grand jury investigating allegations that her daughter, former White House intern Monica S. Lewinsky, had an affair with President Clinton and helped him cover it up.

Lewis, who faces further questioning, offered no comment as she left the federal courthouse at the end of the day, but the confident demeanor of Tuesday’s appearance had evaporated and she appeared to have been crying.

“It’s an ordeal. No one should have to go through this,” said Billy Martin, her attorney. “No mother should ever be forced by federal prosecutors to testify against their child.”

One source knowledgeable about her testimony said it was protracted in part because Lewis took frequent breaks to consult with her lawyer and to gather herself emotionally.

Grand jury witnesses are not permitted to have counsel present with them in the jury room, but they may step outside to consult with an attorney as often as they choose.

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In addition to concern about the potential problems her testimony could pose for Lewinsky, Lewis has legal worries of her own in independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr’s investigation of the matter.

Lewis and her daughter are known to have a very close relationship. Accounts of conversations with Lewinsky secretly taped by her co-worker, Linda Tripp, suggest that Lewis was a party to discussions about how Tripp could avoid or mislead lawyers representing Paula Corbin Jones in her sexual-harassment lawsuit against Clinton.

Jones’ lawyers were probing Lewinsky’s relationship with the president, as well as other matters, and Tripp is expected to be called to testify about what she knew.

If Lewis helped counsel Tripp to lie under oath or evade telling the truth, as accounts of Tripp’s tape recordings suggest, then both mother and daughter could be in legal jeopardy.

Starr could use the specter of prosecution to pressure Lewis into helping him. Unlike spouses, parents cannot legally decline to testify about their children.

Meantime, there were these other developments in the continuing controversy:

* Lawyers for Lewinsky have filed two motions with the chief federal district court judge in Washington, Norma Holloway Johnson. One seeks to void a subpoena calling for Lewinsky’s testimony before the grand jury. The other calls on Judge Johnson to enforce what Lewinsky’s lawyers say is an agreement with Starr requiring a full grant of immunity from prosecution for their client in exchange for her cooperation.

* A county prosecutor in Maryland asked state officials to make the decision on whether to investigate Tripp for allegedly violating state laws when she secretly taped her telephone conversations with Lewinsky. Maryland law permits taping of telephone calls only when both parties consent.

* Congressional Democrats stepped up their attacks on Starr. Sen. Robert Torricelli (D-N.J.) urged Atty. Gen. Janet Reno to investigate whether Starr has improper conflicts of interest, noting that he consulted with attorneys for Jones in the months before being named independent counsel in the Whitewater land deal and did work for a conservative group, the Bradley Foundation, that has financed some Clinton opponents.

Rep. John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, raised questions about links between Starr and wealthy conservative Richard Mellon Scaife, who has provided financial support for right-wing causes hostile to Clinton. Scaife contributed more than $1 million to help establish Pepperdine University’s new Public Policy School, which Starr is to head along with its Law School when his job as Whitewater prosecutor ends.

* Lewinsky’s lead lawyer, William H. Ginsburg, joined in deploring Starr’s calling of Lewis before the grand jury.

“They’re putting all kinds of pressure on her, and stress,” Ginsburg said. “It’s her daughter, for God’s sake; it’s her daughter. Disgraceful. It’s disgraceful.”

Ginsburg reiterated that Lewinsky is not, and never was, scheduled to testify before the grand jury today, as was reported this week by several news organizations. There is not yet a “date certain” for her to testify, Ginsburg said, adding that he and Lewinsky planned to return to Washington today or Friday.

And, despite his criticisms of Starr, Ginsburg said he does not rule out the possibility that an agreement could yet be reached.

* At the White House, Press Secretary Mike McCurry reacted to reports Tuesday that a retired Secret Service officer recalled Lewinsky visiting the Oval Office to deliver papers and meet with Clinton on weekends.

“On the weekends, there are different combinations of people around, depending on who’s working,” he said.


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