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Mother Is Kept a Witness in Lewinsky Probe

TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Former White House intern Monica S. Lewinsky’s mother, who appeared emotionally distraught after she last appeared before a federal grand jury, failed on Wednesday in her attempt to be excused from additional questioning.

Marcia Lewis, Lewinsky’s mother, had sought to persuade a federal judge to stop prosecutors from again summoning her before the grand jury that is investigating the nature of her daughter’s relationship with President Clinton.

“Unfortunately, nothing changed today,” said Billy Martin, Lewis’ lawyer, after the hearing, which was closed to the public. “She remains a witness before the grand jury.”

Lewis and Lewinsky have continued to share an apartment at the Watergate complex here and are described by friends as particularly close. It was Lewis whom a frightened Lewinsky called on the afternoon of Jan. 16, when representatives of independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr first approached the former intern at a mall in suburban Virginia.

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Prosecutors are still trying to determine if Lewis knows about the handling of gifts that her daughter and Clinton exchanged and whether Lewinsky may have confided other details of the relationship to her. Lewinsky began an internship at the White House in the spring of 1995 and late that year obtained a paying job there.

According to a relative of Lewis, her lawyer and prosecutors are negotiating whether she might be allowed to testify in a deposition away from the courthouse, instead of reappearing before the grand jury. Lewis will be required to testify, possibly as soon as next week.

William H. Ginsburg, Lewinsky’s lawyer, criticized Starr Wednesday for seeking to press Lewis further.

“It demonstrates a callous disregard, not only for the rights of Ms. Lewis as a mother, but also for the American public, which has voiced its disapproval of this,” Ginsburg said in an interview.

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Starr since mid-January has been investigating whether Clinton lied under oath about his relationship with Lewinsky or encouraged others to testify falsely. Clinton testified that he engaged in no form of sexual activity with Lewinsky.

Also on Wednesday, lawyers familiar with the matter said Starr has subpoenaed documents related to four women suspected of having past relationships with Clinton. The subpoena was delivered to lawyers for Paula Corbin Jones, the former Arkansas state employee who is suing Clinton for alleged sexual harassment.

In an effort to open to the public investigation-related court proceedings, news organizations have appealed a judge’s ruling that has kept all the hearings closed. Chief U.S. District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson has not allowed the public or the media to attend hearings about the White House assertion of executive privilege or alleged leaks by prosecutors of secret grand jury evidence.

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia agreed Wednesday to hear arguments on April 8 on whether to overrule Johnson, according to Theodore J. Boutros, a lawyer who is representing The Times and 11 other news organizations.

In another development, a former presidential aide who has knowledge of the circumstances of Lewinsky’s April 1996 job transfer from the White House to the Pentagon was questioned for three hours before the grand jury.

Jodie R. Torkelson, who until last August headed the White House management and administration office, was asked about her understanding of why Lewinsky was sent packing, according to people familiar with her appearance.

Prosecutors earlier had summoned Torkelson’s former boss, then-Deputy White House Chief of Staff Evelyn S. Lieberman, who told reporters after testifying on Jan. 30 that she had been unaware of any inappropriate conduct by Clinton.

Torkelson now is staff chief of the Voice of America, which is headed by Lieberman.

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After testifying Wednesday, Torkelson had no comment. Her lawyer, Stephen L. Braga, acknowledged that Torkelson was questioned about a computer message she distributed in April 1996, seeking notification if Lewinsky applied for another job within the White House. Existence of Torkelson’s query was reported this month by Newsweek magazine.

“Jodie was questioned today about her e-mail concerning Ms. Lewinsky’s job transfer,” Braga said, adding: “She fully answered all questions to the best of her ability and we’re going to wait until the investigation is over to determine if any further comment on this matter is necessary.”

Meanwhile, House Republicans sent an additional $1.3 million to the Judiciary Committee on Wednesday to help the panel handle a heavy workload, including the expected arrival of evidence from Starr.

Republicans insisted that the money was not specifically connected to the Starr inquiry. But House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) acknowledged that the funds could be spent for that purpose.

Democrats decried the Judiciary funding--as well as an additional $1.8 million for the House campaign fund-raising inquiry--as part of a coordinated effort to harass the White House with politically motivated attacks.

“This cash stash is nothing more than a taxpayer-financed slush fund for GOP leaders to tap when embarking on partisan witch hunts,” said Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.).

House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) has tapped a former judge, Rep. James E. Rogan (R-Glendale), to review previous congressional investigations of the Clinton administration.

Rogan joined the Judiciary Committee recently after the death of Rep. Sonny Bono (R-Palm Springs).

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Times Senior Washington Correspondent Jack Nelson and staff writers Marc Lacey and Richard A. Serrano contributed to this story.


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