Lewinsky Tells Jury of Relationship with President

Article excerpt

Monica Lewinsky was hustled yesterday under heavy guard into the U.S. District Court in Washington, where she told a federal grand jury that she had a sexual relationship with President Clinton at the White House.

A source familiar with Miss Lewinsky's testimony said last night that the former intern also said the president told her how to deny the 18-month affair during her testimony in the Paula Jones sexual misconduct lawsuit.

The source said Miss Lewinsky also told grand jurors that she lied in a sworn affidavit in the Jones suit when she denied having sex with the president, and that the White House sought to retrieve gifts she received from Mr. Clinton, which were under subpoena. Her account, under oath, could place the president in jeopardy on perjury and obstruction-of-justice charges.

Looking nervous but determined, Miss Lewinsky arrived at the courthouse at 8:23 a.m. and was whisked in a dark green Toyota sport utility vehicle around a throng of 200 reporters, photographers and cameramen to a side door. She hugged one of her attorneys, Sydney Jean Hoffman, and took a deep breath before disappearing into the building.

U.S. marshals escorted the 25-year-old former White House intern behind partitions through a side hallway to an elevator reserved for judges so she could avoid reporters gathered in the building. It was the same protected route used by first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton when she testified before the Whitewater grand jury in January 1996.

Miss Lewinsky agreed to testify after independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr approved a full immunity deal for her, her mother, Marcia Lewis, and her father, Dr. Bernard Lewinsky.

Wearing a dark blue blazer and skirt, white shoes and a single strand of pearls, the witness went directly to the third floor, where an hour later she faced questions from Mr. Starr's prosecutors and the 23-member grand jury.

Her attorneys, Plato Cacheris and Jacob Stein, waited outside - according to grand jury rules - as their client faced the most intense moment of her life alone.

Miss Lewinsky left the courthouse at 5:20 p.m. with her attorneys in the same vehicle in which she arrived. She had no comment. Her spokeswoman, Judy Smith, later said the witness "answered each question . . . truthfully, completely and honestly."

"Monica and her family are relieved that this ordeal finally appears to be coming to an end," Mrs. Smith said, refusing to take questions or to say if Miss Lewinsky would return for more grand jury questions.

Mr. Starr's office did not return calls for comment.

Miss Lewinsky's testimony is essential to the grand jury investigation, which has focused on accusations of perjury, subornation of perjury and obstruction of justice by Mr. Clinton and others, including Washington lawyer Vernon E. Jordan Jr., who helped the former intern find a job in New York at a time she was being sought as a witness in the Jones case.

Her account of a sexual relationship with the president has been the topic of nearly daily - and often emotional - briefings with prosecutors and her attorneys, who sought to prepare her for yesterday's grand jury appearance.

The grand jury wants to know whether Miss Lewinsky was being truthful in her account on 20 hours of audiotapes secretly recorded by Pentagon colleague Linda R. Tripp that she had a sexual relationship with the president. It also wants to know if Mr. Clinton and others illegally told her to deny the affair in the Jones case.

On July 28, when Miss Lewinsky was granted immunity by Mr. Starr, she said she would testify about having an affair with Mr. Clinton and that the two of them discussed how to keep it quiet, according to lawyers and others close to the case. …