|MORE STARR EVIDENCE|
October 2, 1998
JIM LEHRER: Now, today's big drop of evidence by the House Judiciary Committee. We start with the transcripts of the taped telephone conversations that triggered the Clinton-Lewinsky investigation. Terence Smith reports.
TERENCE SMITH: The latest batch of documents contains hundreds of pages of grand jury testimony from Linda Tripp, including long excerpts of her secretly-recorded telephone conversations with Monica Lewinsky.
They reveal a relationship between the two women that was at times close and confidential and at other times argumentative. Repeatedly, Lewinsky and Tripp discuss the depositions they will give in the Paula Jones sexual harassment lawsuit. Lewinsky urges Tripp to keep Lewinsky's relationship with the president a secret.
Lewinsky says: "I think if you tell the truth, you're going to be a lot more enmeshed and in trouble. Do you see what I mean? You will then have caused a lot more trouble -- and then you're surely going to lose your job."
Tripp replies, "Right. Right."
In her testimony, Tripp contends that Lewinsky offered her money if she would lie in her deposition.
Lewinsky is quoted by Tripp as saying, "I would write you a check" for the share of a condominium that she owned in Australia.
"I would be indebted to you for life," Lewinsky is quoted as saying.
At another point, Tripp says that Lewinsky's warnings to her became frightening. She quotes Lewinsky saying, "You'll be destroyed. They'll destroy you. The least of your problems will be your job. How are you going to support yourself? You'll be banned in the government. Look at the people who have crossed them in the past; people end up dead around them. They know you have two children; they know where you live. You're crazy to do this. I fear for my life. My mother fears for my life. You must lie under oath."
Many of the recorded conversations deal with Monica Lewinsky's efforts to get the president to help her find a new job.
In her testimony, Tripp says the president told Lewinsky "Don't underestimate how I can help you. Understand that I'm the most influential, powerful individual in the world, and that I can help you in many, many more ways than just a job at the White House."
On one tape Tripp urges Lewinsky to milk her opportunity to use the president's influence. "You can hold his feet to the fire just a little bit," she advises. "The ultimate thing is if this is your last hurrah, you'd better get something out of it that, you know, that you can stick with, because this is as good a stepping stone. It's not many times that you're going to have someone of that stature opening a door for you."
Tripp testifies that on different occasions the president advised Lewinsky to conceal and even destroy evidence of their relationship, including Lewinsky's computer files.
The prosecutor asked Tripp: "Do you know, did Monica Lewinsky tell you who told her to delete those files?"
Tripp answers, "The president told Monica to delete those files."
At another point Tripp says the president warned Lewinsky that his telephone lines were being tapped. She testifies, "He wasn't sure if it was a foreign embassy or if it was the FBI, but they had to be extremely careful on the phone. He said he was very afraid to call her in the future.
He said, 'if, in fact, they have any kind of record and you are ever asked about this, you should say that I've used you as a youth adviser.'"
In her testimony Tripp often shows sympathy for Lewinsky's predicament. She relates how Lewinsky would wait by the phone for the president to call. "Monica explained to me that she would never do anything or go anywhere," Tripp testified, "that she literally sat by the phone day and night, even when he didn't say he would call, just on the off chance that he would call. She would then get enraged because she had given up her whole weekend."
The actual audio tapes of the Tripp-Lewinsky recorded conversations, some 20 hours in all, are still being edited and will be released later."
JIM LEHRER: Next, Kwame Holman reviews the grand jury testimony of President Clinton's close friend, Vernon Jordan and presidential secretary Betty Currie.
KWAME HOLMAN: This is the most often seen image of Betty Currie, leaving the federal courthouse in Washington in January, a stressed looking Currie was mobbed by reporters after spending several hours before the grand jury.
In the transcript of her testimony released today Currie described the phone call she got from Monica Lewinsky late last December. They discussed gifts Lewinsky had received from the president.
Currie: "Monica said she was getting concerned, and she wanted to give me the stuff the president had given her, or give me a box of stuff. It was a box of stuff."
Question: "What did you do with the box?"
Currie: "I put it under my bed."
Question: "Did Ms. Lewinsky tell you why she wanted to give you this box of items?"
Currie: "I think she was just getting concerned. I think people were asking questions about stuff she had gotten."
Question: "Do you know who had been asking the questions?"
Currie: "Sir, no, I don't." Currie also was asked about statements President Clinton made to her at the White House on a Sunday afternoon in January, the day after the president testified about Lewinsky in the Paula Jones case.
Question: "Okay, do you remember what the statements were?"
Currie: "The best I can remember, sir, and it's getting worse by the minute, seems like Monica was never - 'you were always there when Monica was there, we were never really alone.' Those two stick in my mind as statements he made."
Question: "Would it be fair to say then, based on the way he stated it and the demeanor that he was using at the time that he stated to you that he wished you to agree with that statement?"
Currie: "I can't speak for him, but --"
Question: "How did you take it, because you told us at these meetings in the last several days that that is how you took it?"
Question: "And you're nodding your head, yes, is that correct?"
Currie: "That's correct."
Question: "Okay. With regard to the statement that the president made to you -- 'You remember I was never really alone with Monica, right' -- was that also a statement that as far as you took, that he wished you to agree with that?"
Question: "And to the president's statement to you - 'You could see and hear everything, right,' - was that also a statement that the president, as far as you could tell, wished you to agree to?"
Currie: "Not only did he wish me to agree to it, but they were also right, but right."
Question: "What do you mean they were also right?"
Currie: "I was always there. I could always hear."
And the last one, Question: "You were always in the general area?"
Question: "You were not always, however, in the specific area where the president and Ms. Lewinsky were?"
President Clinton was asked about those same statements during his grand jury testimony in August.
QUESTIONER: Ms. Currie testified that these were not really questions to her, that they were more like statements, is that not true?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, I can't testify as to what her perception was. I can tell you this - I was trying to get information in a hurry. I was downloading what I remembered.
KWAME HOLMAN: Also released today was the transcript of Vernon Jordan's testimony before the grand jury. The president's long-time friend was questioned extensively about his efforts in late 1997 to help Monica Lewinsky find a job.
VERNON JORDAN: It is a fact that I helped Monica Lewinsky find private employment in New York.
KWAME HOLMAN: During his testimony Jordan was asked how he became involved in Monica Lewinsky's job search.
Jordan: "I was in my office. Betty Currie called and she said, 'Mr. Jordan, there's a former White House intern, and her name is Monica Lewinsky, and she would like - and I am requesting your help in finding her - a job in New York. She would like to work in the private sector, and would you be helpful?'
And I said, 'I'm happy to be helpful.'"
Question: "Had Betty Currie ever called you before and asked you to help anybody get a job?"
Jordan: "I don't think so, but I would not rule it out."
Question: "Now, did Betty Currie indicate at all in that conversation that the request was being made on behalf of anyone other than herself or Monica Lewinsky?"
Jordan: "She did not."
Question: "Did you question her at all about whether anyone else had asked her to do that?"
Jordan: "I did not."
And Jordan was asked about his meeting with Monica Lewinsky on the day she was subpoenaed to testify in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case.
Jordan: "And based on that, I said, 'Have you had sexual relations with the president?'"
Question: "And you said it was clear from the context of the question?"
Jordan: "She answered the question about sexual relations or relationships 'no.' I was satisfied with her answer, and I've said it here. I said it in my press conference. That is my answer."
In all, Vernon Jordan appeared before the grand jury on five separate occasions, the same number of times Betty Currie testified.