Tuesday, February 02, 1999
Managers shift focus to Jordan
Differing accounts face scrutiny
BY DAN FREEDMAN
WASHINGTON Today, it's Vernon Jordan's turn to go before House prosecutors and White House lawyers in a closed-door deposition for the Senate impeachment trial.
Mr. Jordan is one of three witnesses to be interviewed under oath by the prosecutors, mainly because of their theory that he was a key player in a conspiracy to obstruct justice.
For Mr. Jordan, Washington superlawyer and President Clinton's longtime confidant and golfing buddy, the stakes are much higher than when he made his five grand jury appearances last year.
Since then, the two principals of the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal Ms. Lewinsky herself and Mr. Clinton have appeared before the grand jury.
In particular, Ms. Lewinsky's account makes it seem that Mr. Jordan knew a lot more about her affair with Mr. Clinton than he said he did during last year's grand jury appearances.
Some key points lawyers on both sides are likely to examine with Mr. Jordan:
When he first met Monica Lewinsky:
Presidential secretary Betty Currie said she arranged Mr. Jordan's first job-search meeting with Ms. Lewinsky in November 1998 on her own, with no direction from Mr. Clinton.
Later, around the time when he learned that Ms. Lewinsky's name was on the list of potential witnesses in the Paula Jones civil suit, Mr. Clinton seemed to take a more active role.
What Mr. Jordan was told about the relationship:
Ms. Lewinsky contacted him on Dec. 19, distraught over receiving a subpoena in the Paula Jones sexual harassment lawsuit. He asked Ms. Lewinsky and, later on, Mr. Clinton about whether they had a sexual relationship. Both said no.
Mr. Jordan said he saw no need to pursue it further.
Asked whether the subpoena in the Jones case changed his benign view of why he had been enlisted in the Lewinsky job search, Mr. Jordan replied Zero.
Ms. Lewinsky's account, however, suggests Mr. Jordan knew more about the relationship than he was letting on.
On Dec. 22, Mr. Jordan escorted Ms. Lewinsky to the office of a lawyer, Frank Carter. Mr. Jordan's recollection of his conversation that day with Ms. Lewinsky was that it involved her job search.
Ms. Lewinsky, however, recalled expressing fear that someone might be listening in on her phone calls to Mr. Clinton.
When Mr. Jordan assured her that wouldn't be a problem, she told Mr. Jordan that she and Mr. Clinton had engaged in phone sex.
Well, what's phone sex? Ms. Lewinsky quoted Mr. Jordan as saying.
Well, you know what phone sex is, Ms. Lewinsky replied.
No, I don't, Mr. Jordan said, according to Ms. Lewinsky. I'm just an old man. I don't know what phone sex is.
Later, at a Dec. 31 meeting, Ms. Lewinsky said she was shocked that Mr. Jordan didn't seem to know about her relationship with Mr. Clinton. She told Mr. Jordan the two already were having an affair, telling him that while we didn't have sex, they did everything but sex.
Mr. Jordan didn't really respond to me, Ms. Lewinsky said. So I took that as a cue to drop the subject.
House prosecutors likely will try to exploit these varying accounts to show Mr. Jordan's job assistance was part of a calculated plan to buy Ms. Lewinsky's silence.
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Clinton Under Fire page