Magazine article Newsweek

Still in the Line of Fire

Magazine article Newsweek

Still in the Line of Fire

Article excerpt

Should Secret Service agents testify? They say no. Starr says yes--and key facts may hang in the balance.

FOR WEEKS NOW, IT'S been Starr versus the Secret Service. Publicly, the Clinton administration and the independent counsel have battled bitterly over whether the president's bodyguards should have to testify before a grand jury. But NEWSWEEK has learned that in private, Justice Department lawyers Jonathan Schwartz and Gary Grindler have been escorting the president's agents to Kenneth Starr's office. There they have been answering most-- though not all--of his questions. The agents have admitted hearing the same racy rumors that Starr has--that Clinton and Monica Lewinsky were caught entwined in the White House theater by a Secret Service sharpshooter when he awoke from a catnap, or that a White House steward found a stained napkin in Clinton's hideaway. But so far, none claims to have any firsthand knowledge. Not satisfied. Starr wants them under oath.

And so the public war over testimony rages on. Last week, in Judge Norma Holloway Johnson's federal courtroom, government lawyers argued that John F. Kennedy might be alive today if he hadn't ordered Secret Service agents off the running boards of his limousine in Dallas in 1963, and Ronald Reagan might be dead if he hadn't let the agents stay close in 1981. Did we really want presidents to fear that their own bodyguards might testify against them? Wouldn't they then want to keep the Secret Service at a distance? …

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