WASHINGTON — Anxious to cut a deal for immunity, the attorney for Monica Lewinsky said Sunday his 24-year-old client “will tell all that she knows” to Whitewater prosecutors. “The chips will fall as they may,” he said.
Attorney William Ginsburg said he has verbally indicated to investigators what Lewinsky will tell them in exchange for immunity from prosecution.
“I will remain in Washington as long as it takes to see that the truth in every detail, wherever it may fall, comes out,” Ginsburg said. Negotiations of such a sensitive nature could take weeks.
President Clinton talked this weekend with heavyweight advisers brought back to Washington to help him through the crisis brought on by the allegations of a sexual relationship with Lewinsky and attempts at a cover-up. One of them, one-time Commerce Secretary Mickey Kantor, said his help was lawyerly in nature. “I have my legal hat on, not my political hat,” he said.
In the first hint of an eyewitness, ABC reported that the president and Lewinsky were caught in an intimate encounter in a private area of the White House in the spring of 1996, shortly before the White House intern was moved to a job at the Pentagon. ABC cited several unidentified sources for its information.
The office of prosecutor Kenneth Starr declined comment on the ABC report. If true, such a witness would provide important corroborating evidence for Lewinsky’s account if she reverses her current denial of an affair with the president. In secretly recorded conversations, Lewinsky had said she believed “nobody saw anything happen between us.”
Ginsburg said the ABC report, if true, will take some of the pressure off his client by making her testimony less important. Such a development would let Starr expend his “bullets on somebody else,” said Ginsburg.
At the White House, the first couple tried to maintain an air of normalcy, attending services at Foundry United Methodist Church as usual. Clinton rehearsed his State of the Union speech and planned to watch the Super Bowl with family and the Rev. Jesse Jackson.
Senior administration officials and longtime Clinton friends, including two who talked to him this weekend, said the president was shocked and depressed in the first hours of the controversy but has bounced back defiant.
“One thing that isn’t going on and that’s discussions about any resignation,” said Rahm Emanuel, a top White House adviser.
House Judiciary Committee chairman Henry Hyde spoke cautiously about the possibility of an impeachment inquiry.
“Nothing much will happen until the Democrats decide something should happen,” said Hyde, R-Ill.
Members of Maine’s congressional delegation say the scandal could sidetrack serious business before lawmakers in the coming session.
Republican Sen. Susan Collins said the sex allegations have a potential to get in the way of congressional business.
“Unless they are investigated promptly and thoroughly, there is also the potential for them to become distracting and ultimately divisive,” said Collins.
First District Rep. Tom Allen, a Democrat, said, “If that happens, we all lose.”
In a whirlwind of appearances on ABC, NBC and CBS, Ginsburg went out of his way to praise Starr and his staff, calling them “excellent people” with whom talks have been cordial.
“I don’t approve of some of their tactics,” but “I have nothing but the highest praise for their professionalism and their attitude,” Ginsburg said.
“We are dying to tell the story, but we cannot. We are frozen in place” until his client gets total immunity, Ginsburg said. Lewinsky has denied having a sexual relationship with Clinton in an affidavit in the Paula Jones sexual harassment suit.
Clinton loyalists attacked Starr for having former White House staffer Linda Tripp wired so that she could secretly record a conversation with Lewinsky.
Political consultant Paul Begala criticized Starr for “firing off subpoenas like an Uzi,” a reference to the impending grand jury questioning faced as early as Tuesday by longtime Clinton confidant Vernon Jordan and other witnesses.
Evelyn Lieberman, former deputy White House chief of staff, is also expected to be subpoenaed to appear before the Whitewater grand jury, according to administration officials. Lieberman moved Lewinsky out of the White House in the spring of 1996.
On ABC, Ginsburg said he had made “a couple of oral attorney proffers” to Whitewater prosecutors. A proffer is an outline — ordinarily in writing — of what evidence a potential cooperating witness in a probe will provide investigators.
Ginsburg did not elaborate during his television appearance, but a source familiar with the matter has said Lewinsky is willing to tell prosecutors that she had sex with the president.
On Sunday as he did on Saturday, Starr went to the downtown office building where prosecutors and FBI agents are investigating the president.
Lewinsky’s lawyer said it would be unwise for the White House or Clinton’s personal lawyers to attack the former White House intern as unstable, noting that she was aided over a long period of time by people around the president.
“How could they have helped her get jobs, including with responsible companies, large companies, if she was so unstable?” Ginsburg said.
“You would think over the times she was in government service they would have noted this prior to today,” said Ginsburg.
Lewinsky was a White House intern and staffer in 1995 and 1996, when she went to the Pentagon. Late last year, Jordan referred her for job interviews that resulted in an offer from Revlon — which was withdrawn when the story of an attempted cover-up of her alleged affair with the president exploded Wednesday.
Ginsburg also said that in Thursday’s search of Lewinsky’s apartment, FBI agents took “her computer, her black and blue pantsuits and dresses, and several other items.” He said the book of poetry given to her by Clinton, Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass,” was signed somewhat formally — “It was a best wishes or something like that, and it said President Bill Clinton.”