The FBI will conduct DNA tests on a black cocktail dress worn by Monica Lewinsky to determine whether it contains semen stains that could corroborate claims by the former intern that she had sexual relations with President Clinton.
The dress, given to prosecutors Tuesday as part of an immunity deal for Miss Lewinsky, will undergo the forensic tests at the FBI laboratory as part of independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr's grand jury investigation into accusations that Mr. Clinton had sex with Miss Lewinsky and lied about it under oath.
FBI officials confirmed yesterday they "anticipated" the request from Mr. Starr, but declined to elaborate. The FBI crime lab can compare DNA profiles, or genetic characteristics, to link unsolved crimes to potential suspects - although test results depend on the condition and size of the sample and the amount of foreign material.
The grand jury can subpoena Mr. Clinton for hair, saliva or blood samples.
White House spokesman James Kennedy yesterday declined comment on the tests.
Mr. Starr and one of Miss Lewinsky's attorneys, Jacob Stein, said in a joint statement that they were not sources of the report Wednesday that Miss Lewinsky had given the dress to prosecutors.
The dress, along with "love letters" Miss Lewinsky wrote to Mr. Clinton and tapes of telephone messages left by the president on her answering machine, has emerged as key evidence in the Starr probe, lawyers and others close to the probe said.
The dress first was discussed by Miss Lewinsky with Pentagon pal Linda R. Tripp, according to 20 hours of audiotapes Mrs. Tripp secretly recorded of conversations she had with the former White House intern. It later was shown to Mrs. Tripp at Miss Lewinsky's Watergate apartment, the sources said, two months before the scandal broke in January.
The sources said after the scandal erupted, Miss Lewinsky sent the dress to her mother, Marcia Lewis, in New York, where it was kept until it was given this week to prosecutors. The dress had been moved, the sources said, before FBI agents searched Miss Lewinsky's Watergate apartment in late January.
Mrs. Lewis also has been given full immunity in the case.
The letters, retrieved by investigators from Miss Lewinsky's computer, have been reviewed by the grand jury, the sources said, and describe an intimate relationship between the now 25-year-old woman and the president.
In the Tripp tapes, the two women often discussed letters, photos and gifts Miss Lewinsky said she gave to and received from Mr. Clinton. The two women also debated how to respond to subpoenas in the Paula Jones sexual misconduct lawsuit asking for such evidence.
Miss Lewinsky, on the tapes, said she wrote several letters to Mr. Clinton that could be "incriminating."
New York literary agent Lucianne Goldberg, a friend of Mrs. Tripp's, described the letters as "love letters from her to Clinton." She said Miss Lewinsky discussed them with Mrs. …