INVESTIGATING THE PRESIDENT
FEBRUARY 2, 1998
The latest developments in the Clinton investigation with Dan Balz of The Washington Post.
A RealAudio version of this segment is available.
January 29, 1998:
Washington Post reporter, Dan Balz, discusses the White House crisis.
January 28, 1998:
An update on the White House crisis with Dan Balz.
January 27, 1998:
Dan Balz, discusses the latest developments in the White House crisis.
January 26, 1998:
Our presidential historians discuss the importance of President Clinton's State of the Union address.
January 26, 1998:
Experts debate the role of the independent counsel.
January 23, 1998:
Mark Shields and Paul Gigot discuss the the political issues surrounding President Clinton's alleged affair.
January 22, 1998:
Shields and Gigot discuss the legal implications of the crisis.
January 22, 1998:
The legal implications of President Clinton's alleged affair.
January 22, 1998:
Presidential historians and experts put the brewing crisis in perspective.
January 21, 1998:
President Clinton responds to charges that he may have had an affair with a former White House intern.
May 27, 1997:
A discussion on the ramifications of the Paula Jones case on the office of the Presidency.
January 13, 1997:
Paula Jones's case goes before the Supreme Court.
An exploration of presidential leadership: Character Above All
Browse the NewsHour's coverage of the White House and legal issues
The Shields and Gigot index page.
The Washingtonpost.com's coverage of the crisis.
MARGARET WARNER: Once again, we return to the Washington Post newsroom. Joining us Dan Balz, a correspondent on the Post's national staff. Dan, as we go into this third week now of this investigation, give us a sense of what the legal landscape looks at, starting with independent counsel Ken Starr's investigation, his die of it.
DAN BALZ, Washington Post: Margaret, Ken Starr was interviewed over the weekend very briefly, and he said that his investigation is moving along at pretty much full speed and that his hope is to get to the bottom of this as quickly as he can and to try to get the truth in this resolved. It's moving along in several different places. First of all, there is the continuing effort to accumulate documents. Today he received the deposition that President Clinton has given in the Paula Jones case, as well as the affidavit that Monica Lewinsky also gave in that same case.
So two key pieces of information have now arrived at the Starr investigation. In addition to that, as we've said before, he has received White House logs of visits by Monica Lewinsky. We believe he also has received telephone records which would indicate telephone conversations between the President and Monica Lewinsky. He's after a variety of other things, including he's put on a request for videotapes, if they exist. We don't know that any do exist, but they did become important in the campaign finance case. So I think he put out a general request for things.
The White House is being generally cooperative, they say. There are some questions about how Ken Starr's office will be able to deal with Secret Service agents. He would like to interview them. There are some negotiations going on on that front. So on the document front there's a full court press on to get as much as he can. There's a second front, as we know, which is the grand jury front. There are a number of people yet to testify who are obviously crucial in this investigation, beginning with, I would say, Vernon Jordan, who was the Washington attorney and friend of the President's who helped Monica Lewinsky get a job at the request of Betty Currie, who is the President's secretary.
Others who have yet to be interviewed by the grand jury or to testify before the grand jury include Linda Tripp, who did the tape recordings of Monica Lewinsky, Lewinsky, herself, Frank Carter, who is an attorney who was working for Monica Lewinsky at the time that she prepared the affidavit, and a new name that has surfaced over the last few days, Bruce Lindsey, who is an attorney in the White House but, more importantly, one of President Clinton's closest confidantes and oldest friends. He has always played a kind of behind-the-scenes role. He is intimately trusted by President Clinton, and he has been subpoenaed to testify as well.
MARGARET WARNER: All right now on the Lewinsky front with her attorney, William Ginsburg, where do things stand in their ongoing negotiations with Ken Starr over giving her immunity?
DAN BALZ: Margaret, that's still a great puzzle. There seems to be no progress on the direct negotiations or discussions between Starr's office and her attorney, William Ginsburg. Ginsburg said over the weekend that at some point this week she is likely to return to California to spend a little time with her father, perhaps decompress a little bit. We don't know how long she's likely to stay there, whether and when she will come back. So on that front not a lot of progress has been made.
MARGARET WARNER: Now, there have been a number of stories, including the front page of the Washington Post today about William Ginsburg's approach, rather unconventional approach to this case. What does make it unusual?
DAN BALZ: Well, for one thing, he's conducted kind of a non-stop, round-the-clock series of TV performances. We had an article in our paper today written by Ruth Marcus and Bob Woodward in which he was quoted as saying, "I'm the most famous person in the world." Facetiously or not, he said it. The article went on to point out that the amount of time he's spent on TV is almost to turn him into what they called the "Ginsburg News Network." He's been on all--every talk show available. He did all five Sunday talk shows yesterday, and he's carried on this kind of blanket approach to talking to Ken Starr through the media.
MARGARET WARNER: And what does this press strategy suggest to other lawyers involved and other legal experts you've talked to? What does it tell about what his strategy really is?
DAN BALZ: No one is quite sure what his strategy is. Some lawyers are frankly baffled by what he's doing. Some, who are experienced in criminal matters like this, cannot understand the approach he's taken. In a number of his interviews--particularly he did one on ABC's "20/20" with Barbara Walters the other night--and he went through a series of issues and seemed to in one way or another undercut or attempt to downplay some of the more sensational aspects of evidence that would corroborate the idea that there was a relationship between the President and Monica Lewinsky. For example, on the issue of did the President send her gifts, he said, well, whatever gifts that she might have received are pretty routine and they would be something that you could get at the White House souvenir shop. On some other matters he made it sound as if there was nothing of any untoward nature. He talked about telephone calls between the President and Monica Lewinsky. He described them in the most benign context possible and said it was--that the President and Lewinsky were "just colleagues." Now, all of this adds up in other attorneys' mind to one of several possible strategies that he's pursuing. One possible one is that he is trying to muddy the evidence in such a way that it would make it difficult for Ken Starr to carry out any prosecution. The other is that he may be trying to make it such that Ken Starr feels the only way that he can take this case forward is with Monica Lewinsky's help and that he will grant her the full immunity that Mr. Ginsburg has been asking for. Ginsburg, as you recall last week, at one point described the whole matter as a "one witness case," i.e., his client, Monica Lewinsky. So what he's actually trying to do and whether he will be successful I think it's too early to tell.
MARGARET WARNER: What do the people you're talking to, whether it's at the White House or on the Starr team or in any of these various arenas, say to you about the timetable at this point?
DAN BALZ: The timetable at this point obviously is much longer than anybody predicted when this story first broke. At the time it seemed both in the President's interest and in Ken Starr's interest to get this resolved as quickly as possible the stakes were seen as so enormous for both sides. I think what's happened in the last week with the President putting into place a strategy that gives him a clear denial that he's issued a week ago Monday, now a decision not to take any further questions on it, his approval ratings are very high, he seems to be in no hurry at this point to describe in his own word what the relationship might have been between himself and Monica Lewinsky. Ken Starr, obviously, has a difficult and complicated legal case that he now has to put together. That takes time. Subpoenaing witnesses, interviewing witnesses all takes a lot of time. It's clear that on both sides people are somewhat more prepared now for a long, drawn out investigation than they were two weeks ago.
MARGARET WARNER: All right. Well, Dan, thank you very much.
DAN BALZ: Thank you, Margaret.
JIM LEHRER: The Washington Post's full coverage is available on their Web site after 10:30 Eastern Time and on ours. A reminder that we will be going to the reporters and editors of The Washington Post for occasional updates of this story, or when a particular turn of events warrants.