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OFFICE OF THE INDEPENDENT COUNSEL
Monday, August 17, 1998
Washington, D. C.
Videotaped testimony of PRESIDENT WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON before the Independent Counsel, held at The White House, Washington, D. C., beginning at 1:03 p.m., when were present on behalf of the respective parties:
FOR THE INDEPENDENT COUNSEL:KENNETH W. STARR, ESQ. Independent Counsel
JACKIE M. BENNBTT, JR., ESQ.
ROBERT J. BITTMAN, ESQ.
SOLOMON L. WISEN8ERG, ESQ.
Deputy Independent Counsel
MICHABL W. EMMICK, ESQ.
MARY ANNE WIRTH, ESQ.
BERNARD JAMES APPERSON, ESQ,
Associate Independent Counsel
FOR THE PRESIDENT:
DAVID E. KENDALL, ESQ.
NICOLE SELIGMAN. ESQ.
Williams & Connolly
CHARLES F. C. RUFF, ESQ.
Counsel to the President
JAMES P. RICKARDS, JR.
Senior Consultant, OIC
GARY E. BRESNAHAN
White House Technical Staff
Secret Service Agent
Court Reporter: Elizabeth A. Eastman
P R O C E E D I N G S
MR. APPERSON: Mr. Wisenberg, the grand jury is in session. There is a quorum. There are no unauthorized persons in the grand jury room and they are prepared to receive the testimony of the President.
MR. WISENBERG: Thank you, Mr. Apperson. If we could proceed with the oath, please? WHEREUPON,
WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON having been called for examination by the Independent Counsel, and having been first duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows:
EXAMINATION BY THE INDEPENDENT COUNSEL BY MR. WISENBERG:
Q Good afternoon, Mr. President.
A Good afternoon.
Q Could you please state your full name for the record, sir?
A William Jefferson Clinton.
Q My name is Sol Wisenberg and I'm a Deputy Independent Counsel with the Office of Independent Counsel. With me today are some other attorneys from the Office of Independent Counsel.
At the courtroom are the ladies and gentlemen of the grand jury prepared to receive your testimony as you give it. Do you understand, sir?
A Yes, I do.
Q This proceeding is subject to Rule 6(e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure as modified by Judge Johnson's order. You are appearing voluntarily today as a part of an agreement worked out between your attorney, the Office of the Independent Counsel, and with the approval of Judge Johnson.
Is that correct, sir?
A That is correct.
MR. KENDALL: Mr. Wisenberg, excuse me. You referred to Judge Johnson's order. I'm not familiar with that order. Have we been served that, or not?
MR. WISENBERG: No. My understanding is that that is an order that the Judge is going to sign today. She didn't have the name of a WHCA person. And basically my understanding is that it will cover all of the attorneys here today and the technical people in the room, so that they will be authorized persons permitted to hear grand jury testimony that they otherwise wouldn't be authorize to hear.
MR. KENDALL: Thank you.
BY MR. WISENBERG:
Q The grand jury, Mr. President, has been empaneled by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Do you understand that, sir?
A I do.
Q And, among other things, is currently investigating under the authority of the Court of Appeals upon application by the Attorney General, whether Monica Lewinsky or others obstructed justice, intimidated witnesses, or committed other crimes related to the case of Jones v. Clinton.
Do you understand that, sir?
A I do.
Q And today, you will be receiving questions not only from attorney. on the OIC staff, but from some of the grand jurors, too. Do you understand that?
A Yes, sir, I do.
Q I'm going to talk briefly about your rights and responsibilities as a grand jury witness. Normally, grand jury witnesses, while not allowed to have attorneys in the grand jury room with them, can stop and consult with their attorneys. Under our arrangement today, your attorneys are here and present for consultation and you can break to consult with them as necessary, but it won't count against our total time.
Do you understand that, sir?
A I do understand that.
Q You have a privilege against self-incrimination. If a truthful answer to any question would tend to incriminate you, you can invoke the privilege and that invocation will not be used against you. Do you understand l that?
A I do.
Q And if you don't invoke it, however, any answer I that you do give can and will be used against you. Do you understand that, sir?
A I do.
Q Mr. President, you understand that your testimony here today is under oath?
A I do.
Q And do you understand that because you have sworn to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, that if you were to lie or intentionally mislead the grand jury, you could be prosecuted for perjury and/or obstruction of justice?
A I believe that's correct.
Q Is there anything that you -- I've stated to you regarding your rights and responsibilities that you would like me to clarify or that you don't understand?
A No, sir.
Q Mr. President, I would like to read for you a portion of Federal Rule of Evidence 603, which discusses the important function the oath has in our judicial system. It says that the purpose of the oath is one, "calculated to awaken the witness' conscience and impress the witness' mind with the duty" to tell the truth.
Could you please tell the grand Jury what that oath means to you for today' a testimony?
A I have sworn an oath to tell the grand jury the truth, and that' a what I intend to do.
Q You understand that it requires you to give the whole truth, that is, a complete answer to each question, sir?
A I will answer each question as accurately and fully as I can.
Q Now, you took the same oath to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth on January 17th, l998 in a deposition in the Paula Jones litigation; is that correct, sir?
A I did take an oath then.
Q Did the oath you took on that occasion mean the same to you then as it does today?
A I believed then that I had to answer the questions truthfully, that is correct.
Q I'm sorry. I didn't hear you, sir.
A I believed that I had to answer the questions truthfully. That 's correct.
Q And it meant the same to you then as it does today?
A Well, no one read me a definition then and we didn't go through this exercise then. I swore an oath to tell the truth, and I believed I was bound to be truthful and I tried to be.
Q At the Paula Jones deposition, you were represented by Mr. Robert Bennett, your counsel, is that correct?
A That is correct.
Q He was authorized by you to be your representative there, your attorney, is that correct?
A That is correct.
Q Your counsel, Mr. Bennett, indicated at page 5 of the deposition, lines 10 through 12, and I'm quoting, "the President intends to give full and complete answers as Ms. Jones is entitled to have".
My question to you is, do you agree with your counsel that a plaintiff in a sexual harassment case is, to use his words, entitled to have the truth?
A I believe that I was bound to give truthful answers, yes, sir.
Q But the question is, sir, do you agree with your counsel that a plaintiff in a sexual harassment case is entitled to have the truth?
A I believe when a witness is under oath in a civil case, or otherwise under oath, the witness should do everything possible to answer the questions truthfully.
MR. WISENBERG: I'm going to turn over questioning now to Mr. Bittman of our office, Mr. President.
BY MR. BITTMAN:
Q Good afternoon, Mr. President.
A Good afternoon, Mr. Bittman.
Q My name is Robert Bittman. I'm an attorney with the Office of Independent Counsel.
Mr. President, we are first going to turn to some of the details of your relationship with Monica Lewinsky that follow up on your deposition that you provided in the Paula Jones case, as was referenced, on January 17th, 1998.
The questions are uncomfortable, and I apologize for that in advance. I will try to be as brief and direct as possible.
Mr. President, were you physically intimate with Monica Lewinsky?
A Mr. Bittman, I think maybe I can save the -- you and the grand jurors a lot of time if I read a statement, which I think will make it clear what the nature of my relationship with Ma. Lewinsky was and how it related to the testimony I gave, what I was trying to do in that testimony. And I think it will perhaps make it possible for you to ask even more relevant questions from your point of view.
And, with your permission, I'd like to read that statement.
Q Absolutely. Please, Mr. President.
A When I was alone with Ma. 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, 1998 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 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 statement.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. And, with that, we would like to take a break.
A Would you like to have this?
Q Yes, please. As a matter of fact, why don't we have that marked as Grand Jury Exhibit WJC-1.
(Grand Jury Exhibit WJC-1 was marked for identification.)
THE WITNESS: So, are we going to take a break?
MR. KENDALL: Yes. We will take a break. Can we have the camera off, now, please? And itís 1:14.
(Whereupon, the proceedings were recessed from 1:14 p.m. until 1:30 p.m.)
MR. KENDALL: 1:30, Bob.
MR. BITTMAN: It's 1:30 and we have the feed with the grand jury
BY MR. BITTMAN:
Q Good afternoon again, Mr. President.
A Good afternoon, Mr. Bittman. (Discussion off the record.)
BY MR. BITTMAN:
Q Mr. President, your statement indicates that your contacts with Ms. Lewinsky did not involve any inappropriate,
MR. KENDALL: Mr. Bittman, excuse me. The witness --
THE WITNESS: No, sir. It indicates --
MR. KENDALL: The witness does not have Ė
THE WITNESS: -- that it did involve inappropriate and intimate contact.
BY MR. BITIMAN:
Q Pardon me. That it did involve inappropriate, intimate contact.
A Yes, sir, it did.
MR. KENDALL: Mr. Bittman, the witness Ė the witness dose not have a copy of the statement. We just have the one copy.
MR. BITTMAN: If he wishes --
MR. KENDALL: Thank you.
MR. BITTMAN: -- his statement back?
BY MR. BITTMAN:
Q Was this contact with Ms. Lewinsky, Mr. President, did it involve any sexual contact in any way, shape, or form?
A Mr. Bittman, I said in this statement I would like to stay to the terms of the statement. I think it's clear what inappropriately intimate is. I have said what it did not include. I -- it did not include sexual intercourse, and I do not believe it included conduct which falls within the definition I was given in the Jones deposition. And I would like to stay with that characterization.
Q Let us then move to the definition that was provided you during your deposition. We will have that marked as Grand Jury Exhibit WJC-2.
(Grand Jury Exhibit WJC-2 we' marked for identification.)
BY MR. BITTMAN:
Q This is an exact copy, Mr. President, of the exhibit that was provided you during that deposition. And I'm sure you remember from the deposition that paragraph (1) of the definition remained in effect. Judge Wright ruled that that was to be the guiding definition, and that paragraph (2) and (3) were stricken.
Do you remember that, Mr. President?
A Yes. Specifically what I remember is there were two different discussions, I think, of this. There was guise an extended one in the beginning, and everybody was entering into it. And in the end, the Judge said that she would take the first definition and strike the rest of it. That 'a my memory.
Q Did you -- well, at page 19 of your deposition in that case, the attorney who provided you with the definition asked you, "Would you please take whatever time you need to I read this definition". And later on in the deposition, you did, of course, refer to the definition several times.
Were you, during the deposition, familiar with the definition?
A Yes, sir. My -- let me just ask a question. If you are going to ask me about my deposition, could I have a copy of it? Does anybody have a copy of it?
Q Yes. We have a copy. We'll provide you with a copy.
MS. WIRTH: We will mark it as Grand Jury Exhibit WJC-3.
(Grand Jury Exhibit WJC-3 was marked for identification.)
THE WITNESS: Now, did you say that was on page 19, Mr. Bittman?
BY MR. BITTMAN:
Q It was at page 19, Mr. President, beginning at line 21, and I'll read it in full. This is from the Jones attorney. "Would you please take whatever time you need to read this definition, because when I use the term Ďsexual relationsí, this is what I mean today".
A All right. Yes, that starts on 19. But let me say that there is a -- just for the record, my recollection was accurate. There is a long discussion here between the attorney and the Judge. It goes on until page 23. And in the end the Judge says, "I'm talking only about part one in the definition", and "Do you understand that"? And I answer, "I do".
The judge says part one, and then the lawyer for Ms. Jones says he's only talking about part one and asked me if I understand it. And I say, I do, and that was my understanding.
I might also note that when I was given this and began to ask questions about it, I actually circled number one. This is my circle here. I remember doing that so I could focus only on those two lines, which is what I did.
Q Did you understand the words in the first portion of the exhibit, Mr. President, that is, "For the purposes of this deposition, a person engages in 'sexual relations' when the person knowingly engages in or causes"?
Did you understand, do you understand the words there in that phrase?
A Yes. My -- I can tell you what my understanding of the definition is, if you want me to --
A -- do it. My understanding of this definition as it covers contact by the person being deposed with the enumerated areas, if the contact is done with an intent to arouse or gratify. That' a my understanding of the definition.
Q What did you believe the definition to include and exclude? What kinds of activities
A I thought the definition included any activity by the person being deposed, where the person was the actor and came in contact with those parts of the bodies with the purpose or intent or gratification, and excluded any other activity.
For example, kissing is not covered by that, I don't think.
Q Did you understand the definition to be limited to sexual activity?
A Yes, I understood the definition to be limited to, to physical contact with those areas of the bodies with the specific intent to arouse or gratify. That's what I understood it to be.
Q What specific acts did the definition include, as you understood the definition on January 17, 1998?
A Any contact with the areas there mentioned, sir. If you contacted, if you contacted those parts of the body with an intent to arouse or gratify, that is covered.
Q What did you understand -
A The person being deposed. If the person being deposed contacted those parts of another personís body with an intent to arouse or gratify, that was covered.
Q What did you understand the word "causes", in the first phrase? That is, "For the purposes of this deposition, a person engaged in 'sexual relationsí, when the person knowingly" causes contact?
A I donít know what that means. It doesn't make any l sense to me in this context, because -- I think what I thought there was since this was some sort of -- as I , remember, they said in the previous discussion -- and I'm only remembering now, so if I make a mistake you can correct I me. As I remember from the previous discussion, this was I some kind of definition that had something to do with sexual harassment. So, that implies it's forcing to me, and I --and there was never any issue of forcing in the case involving, well, any of these questions they were asking me.
They made it clear in this discussion I just reviewed that what they were referring to was intentional sexual conduct, not some sort of forcible abusive behavior.
So, I basically -- I don't think I paid any attention to it because it appeared to me that that was something that had no reference to the facts that they admitted they were asking me about.
Q So, if I can be clear, Mr. President, was it your understanding back in January that the definition, now marked as Grand Jury Exhibit 2, only included consensual sexual activity?
A No. My understanding -- let me go back and say it. My understanding -- I'll tell you what it did include. My understanding was, what I was giving to you, was that what was covered in those first two lines was any direct contact by the person being deposed with those parts of another personís body, if the contact was done with an intent to arouse or gratify. Thatís what I believed it meant.
Thatís what I believed it meant then reading it. Thatís what I believe it means today.
Q I'm just trying to understand, Mr. President. You indicated that you put the definition in the context of a sexual harassment case.
A No, no. I think it was not in the context of sexual harassment. I just reread those four pages, which obviously the grand jury doesn't have. But there was some reference to the fact that this definition apparently bore some, had some connection to some definition in another context, and that this was being used not in that context, not necessarily in the context of sexual harassment.
So, I would think that this "causes" would be, would mean to force someone to do something. That 's what I read it. That's the only point I'm trying to make.
Therefore, I did not believe that anyone had ever suggested that I had forced anyone to do anything, and that I -- and I did not do that. And so that could not have had any bearing on any questions related to Ms. Lewinsky.
Q I suppose, since you have now read portions of the transcript again, that you were reminded that you did not ask for any clarification of the terms. Is that correct? Of the definition?
A No, sir. I thought it was a rather -- when I read. it, I thought it was a rather strange definition. But it was the one the Judge decided on and I was bound by it. So, I took it.
Q During the deposition, you remember that Ms. Lewinsky's name came up and you were asked several questions about her. Do you remember that?
A Yes, sir, I do.
Q During those -- or before those questions actually got started, your attorney, Mr. Bennett, objected to any questions about Ms. Lewinsky, and he represented to Judge Wright, who was presiding -- that was unusual, wasnít it, that a federal judge would come and actually -- in your experience -- that a federal judge would come and preside at a deposition?
MR. KENDALL: Mr. Bittman, excuse me. Could you identify the transcript page upon which Mr. Bennett objected to all testimony about Ms. Lewinsky before it got started?
MR. BITTMAN: The objection, this quote that I'm referring to, is going to begin at page 54 of the deposition.
MR. KENDALL: That is into the testimony though, after the testimony about Ms. Lewinsky has begun, is it not?
BY MR. BITTMAN:
Q Mr. President, is it unusual for a federal judge to preside over a civil deposition?
A I think it is, but this was an unusual case. I believe I know why she did it.
Q Your attorney, Mr. Bennett, objected to the questions about Ms. Lewinsky, didn't he?
A What page is that on, sir?
Q Page 54, where he questions whether the attorneys for Ms. Jones had a good faith basis to ask some of the questions that they were posing to you. His objections actually begin on page 53.
Since, as the President pointed out that the grand jurors correctly do not have a copy of the deposition, I will read the portion that I am referring to. And this begins at line 1 on page 54.
"I question the good faith of counsel, the innuendo in the question. Counsel is fully aware that Ms. Lewinsky has filed, has an affidavit which they are in possession of saying that there is absolutely no sex of any kind in any manner, shape or form, with President Clinton".
A Where is that?
Q That is on page 54, Mr. President, beginning at line 1, about midway through line 1.
A Well, actually, in the present tense that is an accurate statement. That was an, that was an accurate statement, if -- I donít -- I think what Mr. Bennett was concerned about, if I -- maybe it would be helpful to you and to the grand jurors, quite apart from these comments, if I could tell you what his state of mind was, what my state of mind was, and why I think the Judge was there in the first place.
If you don't want me to do it, I won't. But I think it will help to explain a lot of this.
Q Well, we are interested, and I know from the questions that weíve received from the grand jurors they are interested in knowing what was going on in your mind when you were reading Grand Jury Exhibit 2, and what you understood that definition to include.
Our question goes to whether -- and you were familiar, and what Mr. Bennett was referring to obviously is Ms. Lewinsky's affidavit. And we will have that marked, Mr. President, as Grand Jury Exhibit WJC-4. (Grand Jury Exhibit WJC-4 was marked for identification.)
BY MR. BITTMAN:
Q And you remember that Ms. Lewinsky's affidavit said that she had had no sexual relationship with you. Do you remember that?
A I do.
Q And do you remember in the deposition that Mr. Bennett asked you about that. This is at the end of the -- towards the end of the deposition. And you indicated, he asked you whether the statement that Ms. Lewinsky made in her affidavit was -
Q -- true. And you indicated that it was absolutely correct.
A I did. And at the time that she made the statement, and indeed to the present day because, as far as I know, she was never deposed since the Judge ruled she would not be permitted to testify in a case the Judge ruled had no merit; that is, this case we're talking about.
I believe at the time that she filled out this affidavit, if she believed that the definition of sexual relationship was two people having intercourse, then this is accurate. And I believe that is the definition that most ordinary Americans would give it.
If you said Jane and Harry have a sexual relationship, and you're not talking about people being drawn into a lawsuit and being given definitions, and then a great effort to trick them in some way, but you are just talking about people in ordinary conversations, I'll bet the grand jurors, if they were talking about two people they know, and said they have a sexual relationship, they meant they were sleeping together; they meant they were having intercourse together.
So, I'm not at all sure that this affidavit is not true and was not true in Ms. Lewinskyís mind at the time she swore it out.
Q Did you talk with Ms. Lewinsky about what she meant to write in her affidavit?
A I didn't talk to her about her definition. I did not know what was in this affidavit before it was filled out specifically. I did not know what words were used specifically before it was filled out, or what meaning she gave to them.
But I'm just telling you that it's certainly true what she says here, that we didn't have -- there was no employment, no benefit in exchange, there was nothing having anything to do with sexual harassment. And if she defined sexual relationship in the way I think most Americans do, meaning intercourse, then she told the truth.
Q My question -
A And that depends on what was in her mind. I don't know what was in her mind. You'll have to ask her that.
Q But you indicated before that you were aware of what she intended by the term "sexual relationship".
A No, sir. I said I thought that this could be a truthful affidavit. And when I read it, since thatís the way I would define it, since -- keep in mind, she was not, she was not bound by this sexual relations definition, which is highly unusual; I think anybody would admit that. When she used a different term, sexual relationship, if she meant by that what most people mean by it, then that is not an untruthful statement.
Q So, your definition of sexual relationship is intercourse only, is that correct?
A No, not necessarily intercourse only. But it would include intercourse. I believe, I believe that the common understanding of the term, if you say two people are having a sexual relationship, most people believe that includes intercourse. So, if thatís what Ms. Lewinsky thought, then this is a truthful affidavit. I don't know what was in her mind. But if thatís what she thought, the affidavit is true.
Q What else would sexual relationship include besides intercourse?
A Well, that -- I think -- let me answer what I said before. I think most people when they use that term include sexual relationships and whatever other sexual contact is involved in a particular relationship. But they think it includes intercourse as well. And I would have thought so. Before I got into this case and heard all I've heard, and seen all I've seen, I would have thought that that's what nearly everybody thought it meant.
Q Well, I ask, Mr. President, because your attorney, using the very document, Grand Jury Exhibit 4, WJC-4, represented to Judge Wright that his understanding of the meaning of that affidavit, which you've indicated you thought Ms. Lewinsky thought was, she was referring just to intercourse, he says to Judge Wright that it meant absolutely no sex of any kind in any manner, shape or form.
A Well, let me say this. I didn't have any discussion obviously at this moment with Mr. Bennett. I'm not even sure I paid much attention to what he was saying. I was thinking, I was ready to get on with my testimony here and they were having these constant discussions all through the deposition. But that statement in the present tense, at least, is not inaccurate, if that's what Mr. Bennett meant. That is, at the time that he said that, and for some time before, that would be a completely accurate statement.
Now, I don't believe that he was -- I don't know what he meant. You'd have to talk to him, because I just wasnít involved in this, and I didn't pay much attention to what was being said. I was just waiting for them to get back to me. So, I canít comment on, or be held responsible for, whatever he said about that, I don't think.
Q Well, if you -- do you agree with me that if he mislead Judge Wright in some way that you would have corrected the record and said, excuse me, Mr. Bennett, I think the Judge is getting a misimpression by what you're saying?
A Mr. Bennett was representing me. I wasn't representing him. And I wasn't even paying much attention to this conversation, which is why, when you started asking me about this, I asked to see the deposition. I was focusing on my answers to the questions. And I've told you what I believe about this deposition, which I believe to be true.
And it's obvious, and I think by your questions you have betrayed that the Jones lawyers' strategy in this case had nothing to do with uncovering or proving sexua1 harassment.
By the time this discovery started, they knew they had a bad case on the law and they knew what our evidence was. They knew they had a lousy case on the facts. And so their strategy, since they were being funded by my political opponents, was to have this dragnet of discovery. They wanted to cover everybody. And they convinced the Judge, because she gave them strict orders not to leak, that they should be treated like other plaintiffs in other civil cases, and how could they ever know whether there had been any sexual harassment, unless they first knew whether there had been any sex.
And so, with that broad mandate limited by time and employment in the federal or state government, they proceeded to cross the country and try to turn up whatever they could; not because they thought it would help their case. By the time they did this discovery, they knew what this deal was in
their case, and they knew what was going to happen And
Judge Wright subsequently threw it out. What they -
Q With all respect, Mister -
A Now, let me finish, Mr. Bennett [sic]. I mean, you brought this up. Excuse me, Mr. Bittman.
What they wanted to do, and what they did do, and what they had done by the time I showed up here, was to find any negative information they could on me, whether it was true or not; get it in a deposition; and then leak it, even though it was illegal to do so. It happened repeatedly. The Judge gave them orders.
One of the reasons she was sitting in that deposition was because she was trying to make sure that it didn't get out of hand.
But that was their strategy, and they did a good job of it, and they got away with it. Iíve been subject to quite a lot of illegal leaking, and they had a very determined deliberate strategy, because their real goal was to hurt me. When they knew they couldn't win the lawsuit, they thought, well, maybe we can pummel him. Maybe they thought I'd settle. Maybe they just thought they would get some political advantage out of it. But thatís what was going on here.
Now, I'm trying to be honest with you, and it hurts me. And I'm trying to tell you the truth about what happened between Ms. Lewinsky and me. But that does not change the fact that the real reason they were zeroing in on anybody was to try to get any person in there, no matter how uninvolved with Paula Jones, no matter how uninvolved with sexual harassment, so they could hurt me politically. That's what was going on.
Because by then, by this time, this thing had been l going on a long time. They knew what our evidence was. They knew what the law was in the circuit in which we were bringing this case. And so they just thought they would take a wrecking ball to me and see if they could do some damage.
Q Judge Wright had ruled that the attorneys in the Jones case were permitted to ask you certain questions, didn't she?
A She certainly did. And they asked them and I did my best to answer them. I'm just trying to tell --
Q And was it your responsibility -
A -- you what my state of mind was.
Q -- to answer those questions truthfully, Mr. President?
A It was.
Q And was -
A But it was not my responsibility, in the face of their repeated illegal leaking, it was not my responsibility
to volunteer a lot of information. There are many cases in this deposition where I gave -- and keep in mind, I prepared, I treated them, frankly, with respect. I prepared very well for this deposition on the Jones matters. I prepared very well on that. I did not know that Linda Tripp had been involved in the preparation of this deposition, or that all of you -
Q Do you know that now?
A No, I don't. I just know that -- what I read in the papers about it But I had no way of knowing that they would ask me all these detailed questions. I did the best I could to answer them.
Q Did you prepare -
A But in this deposition, Mr. Biteman, I was doing my
best to be truthful. I was not trying to be particularly helpful to them, and I didnít think I had an obligation to be particularly helpful to them to further a -- when I knew that there was no evidence here of sexual harassment, and I knew what they wanted to do was to leak this, even though it was unlawful to do so. That's -
Q Did you believe, Mr. President -
A -- what I knew.
Q -- that you had an obligation to make sure that the presiding federal judge was on board and had the correct facts? Did you believe that was your obligation?
A Sir, I was trying to answer my testimony. I was thinking about my testimony. I donít believe I ever even focused on what Mr. Bennett said in the exact words he did until I started reading this transcript carefully for this hearing. That moment, that whole argument just passed me by. I was a witnesa. I was trying to focua on what I said and how I said it.
And, believe me, I knew what the purpose of the deposition was. And, sure enough, by the way, it did all leak, just like I knew it would.
Q Let me ask you, Mr. President, you indicate in your statement that you were alone with Ms. Lewinsky. Is that right?
A Yes, sir.
Q How many times were you alone with Ms. Lewinsky?
A Let me begin with the correct answer. I don't know for sure. But if you would like me to give an educated guess, I will do that, but I do not know for sure. And I will tell you what I think, based on what I remember. But I can't be held to a specific time, because I don't have records of all of it.
Q How many times do you think?
A Well, there are two different periods here. There 'a the period when she worked in the White House until April of '96. And then there's the period when she came back to visit me from February '97 until late December `97.
Based on our records -- let' s start with the records, where we have the best records and the closest in time. Based on our records, between February and December, it appears to me that at least I could have seen her approximately nine times. Although I do not believe I saw her quite that many times, at least it could have happened.
There were -- we think there were nine or 10 times when she was in, in the White House when I was in the Oval Office when I could have seen her. I do not believe I saw her that many times, but I could have.
Now, we have no records for the time when she was an employee at the White House, because we have no records of that for any of the employees at the White House, unless there was some formally scheduled meeting that was on the, on the calendar for the day.
I remember -- I'll tell you what I remember. I remember meeting her, or having my first real conversation with her during the government shutdown in November of '95, when she -- as I explained in my deposition, during the government shutdown, the -- most federal employees were actually prohibited from coming to work, even in the White House. Most people in the White House couldn't come to work. The Chief of Staff could come to work. My National Security Advisor could come to work. I could.
Therefore, interns were assigned to all offices And I believe it was her last week as an intern. Anyway, she worked in the Chief of Staff's Office. One night she brought me some pizza. We had some remarks.
Now, the next time I remember seeing her alone was on a couple of occasions when she was working in the Legislative Affairs Office as a full-time employee. I remember specifically, I have a specific recollection of two times. I don't remember when they were, but I remember twice when, on Sunday afternoon, she brought papers down to me, stayed, and we were alone.
And I am frankly quite sure -- although I have no specific memory, I am quite sure there were a couple of more times, probably two times more, three times more. Thatís what I would say. That's what I can remember. But I do not remember when they were, or at what time of day they were, or what the facts were. But I have a general memory that would say I certainly saw her more than twice during that period between January and April of 1996, when she worked there.
Q So, if I could summarize your testimony, approximately five times you saw her before she left the White House, and approximately nine times after she left the employment of the White House?
A I know there were several times in ,97. I've told you that I've looked at my calendar and I tell you what I think the outer limits are. I would think that would sound about right. There could be, in that first four-month period, there, maybe there' a one or two more, maybe there thereís one less. I just donít know. I don't remember. I didn't keep records.
But I'm giving you what I specifically remember and then what I generally remember. I'm doing the beat to be helpful to you.
Q Have you reviewed the records for December 28th, 1997, Mr. President?
A Yes, sir, I have.
Q Do you believe that Ms. Lewinsky was at the White House and saw you on December 28th, 1997?
A Yes, sir, I do.
Q And do you remember talking with Ms. Lewinsky about her subpoena that she received for the Paula Jones case on that day?
A I remember talking with Ms. Lewinsky about her testimony, or about the prospect that she might have to give testimony. And she, she talked to me about that. I remember that.
Q And you also gave her Christmas gifts, is that not correct, Mr. President?
A That is correct. They were Christmas gifts and they were going-away gifts. She was moving to New York to, taking a new job, starting a new life. And I gave her some gifts
Q And you actually requested this meeting, is that not correct?
A I don't remember that, Mr. Bittman, but itís quite possible that I invited her to come by before she left town. But usually when we met, she requested the meetings. And my l recollection is, in 1997, she asked to meet with me several times when I could not meet with her and did not do so. But it's quite possible that I -- that because she had given me a Christmas gift, and because she was leaving, that I invited her to come by the White House and get a couple of gifts before she left town.
I don't remember who requested the meeting though. I'm sorry, I donít.
Q You were alone with her on December 28, 1997, --
A Yes, sir.
Q -- right?
A I was.
Q The gifts that you gave her were a canvas bag from The Black Dog restaurant at Martha's Vineyard, is that right?
A Well, that was just, that was just something I had in the place to, to contain the gifts. But I believe that the gifts I gave her were -- I put them in that bag. That's what I had there, and I knew she liked things from The Black Dog. So, I gave her -- I think thatís what I put the presents in.
I remember what the presents were. I don't remember what the bag was I gave them in.
Q Did you also give her a marble bear's head carving from Vancouver, Canada?
A I did do that. I remember that.
Q And you also gave her a Rockettes blanket; that is, the famous Rockettes from New York?
A I did do that. I had that, I had had that in my possession for a couple of years but had never used it, and she was going to New York. So, I thought it would be a nice thing to give her.
Q You gave her a box of cherry chocolates, is that right?
A I don't remember that, sir. I mean, there could have been. I, I just don't remember. I remember giving the bear and the throw. I don't remember what else. And it seems to me like there was one other thing in that bag. I didnít remember the cherry chocolates.
Q How about a pin of the New York skyline? Did you give -
A That -
Q -- her that?
A That could have been in there. I seem to remember I gave her some kind of pin.
Q What about a pair of joke sunglasses?
A I don't remember that. I'm not denying it. I just -- I'm telling you what I remember and what I don't.
Q You had given Ms. Lewinsky gifts on other occasions though, is that right, Mr. President?
A Yes, I had.
Q This, though, was -- you gave her the most gifts that you had ever given her in a single day, is that right?
A Well, that's probably true. It was sort of like a going-away present and a Christmas present as well. And she had given me a particularly nice book for Christmas, an antique book on Presidents. She knew that I collected old books and it was a very nice thing. And I just thought I ought to get up a few things and give them to her before she left.
Q You mentioned that you discussed her subpoena in the Paula Jones case. Tell us specifically, what did you discuss?
A No, sir, that' a not what I said. I said, my recollection is I knew by then, of course, that she had gotten a subpoena. And I knew that she was, therefore, was slated to testify. And she mentioned to me -- and I believe it was at this meeting. She mentioned -- I remember a conversation about the possibility of her testifying. I believe it must have occurred on the 25th.
She mentioned to me that she did not want to testify. So, that' a how it came up. Not in the context of, I heard you have a subpoena, let's talk about it.
She raised the issue with me in the context of her desire to avoid testifying, which I certainly understood; not only because there were some embarrassing facts about our relationship that were inappropriate, but also because a whole lot of innocent people were being traumatized and dragged through the mud by these Jones lawyers with their dragnet strategy. They -
Q So -
A And so I -- and since she didn't know Paula Jones and knew nothing about sexual harassment, and certainly had no experience with that, I, I clearly understood why she didn't want to be a part of it.
Q And you didn't want her to testify, did you? You didn't want her to disclose these embarrassing facts of this inappropriate intimate relationship that you had, is that correct?
A Well, I did not want her to have to testify and go through that. And, of course, I didn't want her to do that, of course not.
Q Did you want those facts, not only the fact that she would testify, but did you want the facts that she had, about your embarrassing inappropriate intimate relationship to be disclosed?
A Not there, but not in any context. However, I, I never had any high confidence that they wouldn't be.
Q Did anyone, as far as you knew, know about your embarrassing inappropriate intimate relationship that you had with Ms. Lewinsky?
A At that time, I was unaware that she had told anyone else about it. But if, if I had known that, it would not have surprised me.
Q Had you told anyone?
A Absolutely not.
Q Had you tried, in fact, not to let anyone else know about this relationship?
A Well, of course.
Q What did you do?
A Well, I never said anything about it, for one thing. And I did what people do when they do the wrong thing. I tried to do it where nobody else was looking at it.
Q How many times did you do that?
A Well, if you go back to my statement, I remember there were a few times in '96, I can't say with any certainty. There was once in early '97. After she left the
White House, I do not believe I ever had any inappropriate contact with her in the rest of '96. There was one occasion in '97 when, regrettably, that we were together for a few minutes, I think about 20 minutes, and there was inappropriate contact. And after that, to the best of my memory and belief, it did not occur again.
Q Did you tell her in the conversation about her being subpoenaed -- she was upset about it, you acknowledge that?
(Witness nodded indicating an affirmative response.)
Q I'm sorry, you have to respond for the record. Yes or no? Do you agree that she was upset about being subpoenaed?
A Oh, yes, sir, she was upset. She -- well, she -we -- she didn't -- we didnít talk about a subpoena. But she was upset. She said, I don't want to testify; I know nothing about this; I certainly know nothing about sexual harassment; why do they want me to testify. And I explained to her why they were doing this, and why all these women were on these lists, people that they knew good and well had nothing to do with any sexual harassment.
I explained to her that it was a political lawsuit. They wanted to get whatever they could under oath that was damaging to me, and then they wanted to leak it in violation of the Judge's orders, and turn up their nose and say, well, you can't prove we did it. Now, that was their strategy. And that they were very frustrated because everything they leaked so far was old news. So, they desperately were trying to validate this massive amount of money they'd spent by finding some new news. And -
Q You were familiar -
A -- she didn't want to be caught up in that, and I didnít blame her.
Q You were familiar, weren't you, Mr. President, that she had received a subpoena. You've already acknowledged that.
A Yes, sir, I was.
Q And Mr. Jordan informed you of that, is that right?
A No, sir. I believe -- and I believe I testified to this in my deposition. I think the first person who told me that she had been subpoenaed was Bruce Lindsey. I think the first -- and I was -- in this deposition, it's a little bit cloudy, but I was trying to remember who the first person who told me was, because the question was, again as I remember it -- could we go to that in the deposition, since you asked me that?
Q Actually, I think you're -- with all respect, I think you may be confusing when Mr. Lindsey -- well, perhaps Mr. Lindsey did tell you she was subpoenaed, I don't know. But in your deposition, you were referring to Mr. Lindsey notifying you that she had been identified as a witness.
A Where is that, sir? I don't want to get -- I just want -- what page is that?
Q Well, actually -
A No, it had to be, because I saw a witness list much earlier than that.
Q Much earlier than December 28?
A Oh, sure. And it had been earlier than -- she would -- I believe Monica -
MR. KENDALL: Page 69.
THE WITNESS: I believe Monica Lewinsky's name was on a witness list earlier than she was subpoenaed.
BY MR. BITTMAN:
A So, I believe when I was answering this question, at least I thought I was answering when I found out -- yes. See, there's -- on page 68, "Did anyone other than your attorneys ever tell you that Monica Lewinsky had been served with a subpoena in this case?. Then I said, "I donít think so.. Then I [sic] said, "Did you ever talk. to Monica about the possibility that she might be asked to testify in this case?"
Then I gave an answer that was non-responsive, that really tried to finish the answer above. I said, "Bruce Lindsey, I think Bruce Lindsey told me that she was, I think maybe that's the first person told me she was. I want to be as accurate as I can..
And that -- I believe that Bruce is the first person who told me that Monica had gotten a subpoena.
Q Did you, in fact, have a conversation with Mr. Jordan on the evening of December 19, 1997, in which he talked to you about Monica being in Mr. Jordan's office, having a copy of the subpoena, and being upset about being subpoenaed?
A I remembered that Mr. Jordan was in the White House on December 19th and for an event of some kind. That he came up to the Residence floor and told me that he had, that Monica had gotten a subpoena and, or that Monica was going to have to testify. And I think he told me he recommended a lawyer for her. I believe thatís what happened. But it was a very brief conversation. He was there for some other reason.
Q And if Mr. Jordan testified that he had also spoken to you at around 5 p.m., and the White House phone logs reflect this, that he called you at around the time he met with Ms. Lewinsky and informed you then that she had been subpoenaed, is that consistent with your memory? Also on the 19th?
A I had a lot of phone conversations with Vernon about this. I didn't keep records of them. I now have some records. My memory is not clear and my testimony on that was not clear. I just knew that I talked to Vernon at some time. but I thought that Bruce was the first person who told me.
Q But Mr. Jordan had also told you, is that right?
A Yes. I now know I had a conversation with Mr. Jordan about it where he said something to me about that.
Q And that was probably on the 19th, December 19th?
A Well, I know I saw him on the 19th. So, I'm quite sure. And if he says he talked to me on the l9th, I believe he would have better records and I certainly think he's a truthful person.
Q Getting back to your meeting with Ms. Lewinsky on December 28, you are aware that she's been subpoenaed. You are aware, are you not, Mr. President, that the subpoena called for the production of, among other things, all the gifts that you had given Ms. Lewinsky? You were aware of that on December 28th, weren't you?
A I'm not sure. And I understand this is an important question. I did have a conversation with Ms. Lewinsky at some time about gifts, the gift. I'd given her. I do not know whether it occurred on the 28th, or whether it occurred earlier. I do not know whether it occurred in person or whether it occurred on the telephone. I have searched my memory for this, because I know it's an important issue. Perhaps if you -- I can tell you what I remember about the conversation and you can see why I'm having trouble placing the date.
A The reason I'm not sure it happened on the 28th is
that my recollection is that Ms. Lewinsky said something to
me like, what if they ask me about the gifts youíve given me.
That's the memory I have. That's why I question whether it
happened on the 28th, because she had a subpoena with her,
I request for production.
And I told her that if they asked her for gifts,
she'd have to give them whatever she had, that thatís what the law was.
And let me also tell you, Mr. Bittman, if you go back and look at my testimony here, I actually asked the Jones lawyers for help on one occasion, when they were asking me what gifts I had given her, so they could -- I was never hung up about this gift issue. Maybe itís because I have a different experience. But, you know, the President gets hundreds of gifts a year, maybe more. I have always given a lot of gifts to people, especially if they give me gifts. And this was no big deal to me. I mean, it's nice. I enjoy it. I gave dozens of personal gifts to people last Christmas. I give gifts to people all the time. Friends of mine give me gifts all the time, give me ties, give me books,
give me other things. So, it was just not a big deal.
And I told Ms. Lewinsky that, just -- I said, you know, if they ask you for this, you'll have to give them whatever you have. And I think, Mr. Bittman, it must have happened before then, because -- either that, or Ms. Lewinsky didnít want to tell me that she had the subpoena, because that was the language I remember her using.
Q Well, didn't she tell you, Mr. President, that the subpoena specifically called for a hat pin that you had produced, pardon me, that you had given her?
A I donít remember that. I remember -- sir, I've told you what I remember. That doesn't mean that my memory is accurate. A lot of things have happened in the last several months, and a lot of things were happening then. But my memory is she asked me a general question about gifts. And my memory is she asked me in the hypothetical. So, it's possible that I had a conversation with her before she got a subpoena. Or it's possible she didn't want to tell me that was part of the subpoena. I don't know.
But she may have been worried about this gift business. But it didn't bother me. My experience was totally different. I told her, I said, look, the way these things work is, when a person get a subpoena, you have to give them whatever you have; thatís whatís the rule, that's what the law is.
And when I was asked about this in my deposition, even though I was not trying to be helpful particularly to these people that I thought were not well-motivated, or being honest or even lawful in their conduct via-a-via me, that is, the Jones legal team, I did ask them specifically to enumerate the gifts. I asked them to help me because I couldn't remember the specifics.
So, all I'm saying is, it didnít -- I wasnít troubled by this gift issue.
Q And your testimony is that Ms. Lewinsky was concerned about her turning over any gifts that you had given her, and that your recommendation to her was, absolutely, Monica, you have to produce everything that I have given you. Is that your teatimony?
A My testimony is what I have said, and let me I reiterate it. I don't want to agree to a characterization of it. I want to just say what it was.
My testimony is that my memory is that on some day in December, and I'm sorry I don't remember when it was, she said, well, what if they ask me about the gifts you have given me. And I said, well, if you get a request to produce those, you have to give them whatever you have.
And it just, to me, it -- I donít -- I didn't then, I don't now see this as a problem. And if she thought it was a problem, I think it -- it must have been from a, really, a misapprehension of the circumstances. I certainly never encouraged her not to, to comply lawfully with a subpoena.