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before the grand jury as to what occurred in the Oval Office that morning:
A. And we started off meeting—we didn't I don't think we said anything. And I think the President directed this
pecifically to Mr. Bowles. He said, “Erskine, I want you to know that this story is not true."
Q. What else did he say?
A. He said that—that he had not had a sexual relation
ship with her, and that he never asked anybody to lie. Podesta 6/16/98 GJT at 85.
Two days later on January 23, 1998, Mr. Podesta had another discussion with the President:
I asked him how he was doing, and he said he was working on this draft and he said to me that he never had sex with her, and that—and that he never asked—you know, he repeated the denial, but he was extremely explicit in
saying he never had sex with her. Podesta 6/16/98 GJT at 92. Then Mr. Podesta testified as follows:
Q. Okay. Not explicit, in the sense that he got more spe-
A. Yes, he was more specific than that.
A. Well, I think he said he said that—there was some
A. That they had not had oral sex. Podesta 6/16/98 GJT at 92.
Later in the day on January 21, 1998, President Clinton called Sidney Blumenthal to his office. His lies became more elaborate and pronounced when he had time to concoct his newest line of defense. When the President spoke to Mr. Bowles and Mr. Podesta, he simply denied the story. By the time he spoke to Mr. Blumenthal, he had added three new angles to his defense strategy: (1) he now portrays Ms. Lewinsky as the aggressor; (2) he launches an attack on her reputation by portraying her as a “stalker'; and (3) he presents himself as the innocent victim being attacked by the forces of evil. Mr. Blumenthal recalled in his June 4, 1998 testimony:
And it was at this point that he gave his account of what had happened to me and he said that Monica-and it came very fast. He said, “Monica Lewinsky came at me and made a sexual demand on me." He rebuffed her. He said, "I've gone down that road before, I've caused pain for a lot of people and I'm not going to do that again.” She threatened him. She said that she would tell people they'd had an affair, that she was known as the stalker among her peers, and that she hated it and if she had an affair or said she had an affair then she wouldn't be the stalker anymore.
Blumenthal 6/4/98 GJT at 49. Mr. Blumenthal said President Clinton told him moments later:
And he said, “I feel like a character in a novel. I feel like
And I said to him, “When this happened with Monica
eyesight or earshot of someone.” Blumenthal 6/4/98 GJT at 50. At one point, Mr. Blumenthal is asked by the grand jury to describe the President's manner and demeanor during the exchange.
Q. In response to my question how you responded to the President's story about a threat or discussion about a threat from Ms. Lewinsky, you mentioned you didn't recall specifically. Do you recall generally the nature of your response to the President?
A. It was generally sympathetic to the President. And I certainly believed his story. It was a very heartfelt story,
he was pouring out his heart, and I believed him. Blumenthal 6/25/98 GJT at 16–17.
President Clinton also implemented a win-at-all-costs strategy. Former presidential advisor Dick Morris testified that on January 21, 1998, he spoke to President Clinton and they discussed the turbulent events of the day. President Clinton again denied the accusations against him. After further discussions, they decided to have an overnight poll taken to determine if the American people would forgive the President for adultery, perjury, and obstruction of justice. When Mr. Morris received the results, he called the President:
And I said, “They're just too shocked by this. It's just too new, it's too raw.” And I said, “And the problem is they're willing to forgive you for adultery, but not for perjury or
obstruction of justice or the various other things.' Morris 8/18/98 GJT at 28. Mr. Morris then recalls the following exchange:
Morris: And I said, “They're just not ready for it.” meaning the voters. President Clinton: Well, we just have to
win, then. Morris 8/18/98 GJT at 30. President Clinton cannot recall this statement.
L. THE EVENTS OF AUGUST 17, 1998—THE GRAND JURY TESTIMONY
On August 17, the last act of the tragedy took place. After six invitations, President Clinton appeared before a grand jury of his fellow citizens and took an oath to tell the truth. He equivocated and engaged in legalistic fencing, but he also lied. Actually, the entire testimony was calculated to mislead and deceive the grand jury and eventually the American people.
On August 16, 1998, President Clinton's personal attorney, David Kendall provided the following statement regarding his testimony: There is apparently an enormous amount of groundless speculation about the President's testimony tomorrow. The truth is the truth. Period. And that's how the President will
testify. Kendall 8/16/98 Statement.
The untruthful tone, however, was set at the very beginning. Judge Starr testified that in a grand jury a witness can tell the truth, lie, or assert a legal privilege. President Clinton was given a fourth choice. The President was permitted to read a statement:
When I was alone with Ms. Lewinsky on certain occasions in early 1996 and once in early 1997, I engaged in conduct that was wrong. These encounters did not consist of sexual intercourse. They did not constitute sexual relations as I understood that term to be defined at my January 17th deposition. But they did involve inappropriate intimate contact.
These inappropriate encounters ended, at my insistence, in early 1997. I also had occasional telephone conversations with Ms. Lewinsky that included inappropriate sexual banter.
I regret that what began as a friendship came to include this conduct, and I will take full responsibility for my actions.
While I will provide the grand jury whatever other information I can, because of privacy considerations affecting my family, myself, and others, and in an effort to preserve the dignity of the office I hold, this is all I will say about the specifics of these particular matters.
I will try to answer, to the best of my ability, other questions including questions about my relationship with Ms. Lewinsky; questions about my understanding of the term "sexual relations," as I understood it to be defined at my January 17th, 1998 deposition; and questions concerning alleged subornation of perjury, obstruction of justice, and intimidation of witnesses. That, Mr. Bittman, is my state
ment. Clinton 8/17/98 GJT at 8-10.
That statement itself is false in many particulars. President Clinton claims that he engaged in wrongful conduct with Ms. Lewinsky "on certain occasions in early 1996 and once in 1997.” He does not mention 1995. There was a reason. On the three “occasions” in 1995, Ms. Lewinsky was a twenty-one year old intern. As for being alone on "certain occasions," he was alone with Ms. Lewinsky more than twenty times at least. The President also told the jurors that he "also had occasional telephone conversations with Ms. Lewinsky that included sexual banter.” Actually, the two had at least fiftyfive phone conversations, many in the middle of the night and in seventeen of these calls, Ms. Lewinsky and President Clinton engaged in phone sex.
Again, President Clinton carefully crafted his statements to give the appearance of being candid, when actually he intended the opposite. In addition, throughout the testimony whenever he was asked a specific question that could not be answered directly without either admitting the truth or giving an easily provable false answer, he said, “I rely on my statement.” Nineteen times he relied on this false and misleading statement; nineteen times, then, he repeated those lies. For example:
Q. Getting back to the conversation you had with Mrs. Currie on January 18th, you told her-if she testified that you told her, Monica came on to me and I never touched her, you did, in fact, of course, touch Ms. Lewinsky, isn't that right, in a physically intimate way?
A. Now, I've testified about that. And that's one of those questions that I believe is answered by the statement that
made. Clinton 8/17/98 GJT at 138.
He also admitted to the grand jury that, after the allegations were publicly reported, that he made “misleading” statements to particular aides whom he knew would likely be called to testify before the Grand Jury:
Q. Do you recall denying any sexual relationship with
the following people: Harry Thomasson, Erskine Bowles, Harold Ickes, Mr. Podesta, Mr. Blumenthal, Mr. Jordan, Ms. Betty Currie? Do you recall denying any sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky to those individuals?
A. I recall telling a number of those people that I didn't have, either I didn't have an affair with Monica Lewinsky or didn't have sex with her. And I believe, sir, that you'll have to ask them what they thought. But I was using those terms in the normal way people use them. You'll have to ask them what they thought I was saying.
Q. If they testified that you denied sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky, or if they told us that you denied that, do you have any reason to doubt them, in the days after the story broke; do you have any reason to doubt them?
A. No. Clinton 8/17/98 GJT at 104-05. President Clinton then was specifically asked whether he knew that his aides were likely to be called before the grand jury:
Q. It may have been misleading, sir, and you knew though, after January 21st when the Post article broke and said that Judge Starr was looking into this, you knew that they might be witnesses. You knew that they might be called into a grand jury, didn't you?
A. That's right. I think I was quite careful what I said after that. I may have said something to all these people to that effect, but I'll also—whenever anybody asked me any details, I said, look, I don't want you to be a witness or I turn you into a witness or give you information that would get you in trouble. I just wouldn't talk. I, by and large, didn't talk to people about it.
Q. If all of these people— let's leave Mrs. Currie for a minute. Vernon Jordan, Sid Blumenthal, John Podesta,
Harold Ickes, Erskine Bowles, Harry Thomasson, after the
A. I'm just telling you what I meant by it. I told you
Q. You've told us now that you were being careful, but that it might have been misleading. Is that correct?
A. It might have been . . . . So, what I was trying to do was to give them something they could—that would be true, even if misleading in the context of this deposition, and keep them out of trouble, and let's deal-and deal with what I thought was the almost ludicrous suggestion that I had urged someone to lie or tried to suborn perjury,
in other words. Clinton 8/17/98 GJT at 106-08.
As the President testified before the grand jury, he maintained that he was being truthful with his aides:
Q. You don't remember denying any kind of sex in any way, shape or form, and including oral sex, correct?
A. I remember that I issued a number of denials to people that I thought needed to hear them, but I tried to be careful and to be accurate, and I do not remember what I said to John Podesta.
Q. Did you deny it to them or not, Mr. President?
A. Let me finish. So, what I did not want to mislead
Q. Well, you knew they might be
A. And so I said to them things that were true about
But I also didn't want to do anything to complicate this matter further. So, I said things that were true. They may have been misleading, and if they were I have to take re
sponsibility for it, and I'm sorry. Clinton 8/17/98 GJT at 100, 105–06. He stated that when he spoke to his aides, he was careful with his wording. He stated that he wanted his statement regarding "sexual relations” to be literally true because he was only referring to intercourse.
However, John Podesta said that President Clinton denied sex "in any way whatsoever” “including oral sex.” He told Mr. Podesta,