Jordan denies buying silence Lewinsky job search wasn't bid to keep her quiet, he says; 'I did not encourage her to lie'; Starr, her lawyer duel in court over whether she has immunity


WASHINGTON -- After a second day of testifying to a federal grand jury, President Clinton's confidant Vernon Jordan insisted yesterday that his job-hunting effort on behalf of Monica Lewinsky was not a "quid pro quo" for her denial of a sexual relationship with the president.

"I did not in any way tell her, encourage her to lie" in her affidavit in Paula Corbin Jones' sexual misconduct case against Clinton, Jordan said. "That's the truth. That's the whole truth. That's nothing but the truth."

In brief remarks to reporters outside the courthouse, Jordan also acknowledged publicly for the first time that he kept Clinton informed of his efforts to find a job in New York for Lewinsky around the time that she was asked to give sworn testimony in the Jones case.

That acknowledgment echoed a key detail from Clinton's deposition in the Jones case, reported in yesterday's Washington Post: the president's acknowledgment that he spoke with Jordan about the lobbyist's efforts to find Lewinsky a job.

The Lewinsky matter took off in several directions yesterday.

As Jordan testified, independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr faced off against Lewinsky's lawyer, William Ginsburg, one floor below in the federal courthouse over whether to grant immunity to the former White House intern.

And the leaking of Clinton's sealed deposition in the Jones case -- the basis for the Post article describing, but not quoting from, the president's testimony -- sparked angry outbursts from the president and his lawyers.

Because the Clinton deposition is largely consistent with his previous denials of sexual misconduct with Lewinsky, there was initial speculation yesterday that the leak might have come from the White House or the president's private lawyers. But the Clinton camp angrily sought to quash that idea.

Clinton declines to respond

Declining to respond directly to the report, Clinton said yesterday that "it is illegal to leak and discuss" the sealed deposition. He planned no further public comments on the sex and cover-up scandal that has dominated Washington news for more than six weeks.

"I believe I have given all the answers that matter," the president said when asked about the Lewinsky case at a Medicare event at the White House. "I don't have anything else to say at this time. I'm just going to go back and do my job."

Robert S. Bennett, Clinton's lawyer in the Jones case, called the leak "one of the most reckless, reprehensible and unethical things I've seen in this town in a very, very long time," and blamed the president's "antagonists" for it.

Bennett said he would ask the court to investigate who divulged the information -- and seek punishment for the offender -- though he acknowledged that it is "almost impossible" to trace such leaks.

Lawyers for Jones also denied being the source of the leaked information, as did Starr's office.

According to the Post, the president's five-hour deposition was devoted largely to questions about Lewinsky, even though Jones is the plaintiff in the case.

The night before the Jan. 17 deposition, Jones' lawyers had been briefed by Lewinsky's friend Linda R. Tripp about her secretly recorded conversations with Lewinsky in which she discussed a sexual relationship with Clinton.

As he has done publicly, Clinton denied in his sworn testimony ever having had sexual relations with Lewinsky, according to the Post.

For purposes of the deposition, the newspaper reported that when Jones' attorneys asked Clinton about his relationship with Lewinsky, they supplied a written definition of what they said constituted sexual relations. The list included fondling and oral sex, but not kissing on the mouth.

Reportedly exchanged gifts

But Clinton reportedly confirmed in his sworn testimony that he saw the former intern at the White House on perhaps five occasions and may have been alone with her. He also conceded, according to the Post's account, that he exchanged some gifts with Lewinsky -- she gave him a tie and at least one book; he gave her souvenirs from Martha's Vineyard and possibly a hat pin, gold brooch and a book of Walt Whitman's poetry.

Clinton reportedly acknowledged that he had at least one

conversation with Lewinsky about the possibility that she would be called to testify in the Jones case about her relationship with the president. But he said it was a casual conversation in the presence of his personal secretary, Betty Currie.

The president also reportedly testified he discussed with his longtime friend Jordan efforts to find Lewinsky a new job in New York, but testified that the job-seeking effort was initiated by Currie.

Jordan, continuing his grand jury testimony for a second full day, has said that Currie asked him to help Lewinsky find a job, but that he assumed the source of the request was Clinton.

Starr is investigating whether Jordan, a prominent Washington lawyer and lobbyist, arranged a job for Lewinsky in exchange for her denial under oath of a sexual relationship with Clinton -- in essence, whether Jordan tried to buy her silence.

Jordan reiterated yesterday that he helped Lewinsky find a job in New York -- eventually securing a position for her at Revlon, on whose board he serves -- and also that he introduced her to a lawyer after she became a witness in the Jones case.

That lawyer, Francis D. Carter, helped Lewinsky prepare her affidavit for Jones' lawyers in which she denied having had a sexual relationship with Clinton.

Jordan again denied publicly yesterday that he advised Lewinsky to lie to Jones' lawyers, or that he helped her find a job in exchange for her signature on the affidavit.

Jordan has said that he didn't know that Lewinsky had been subpoenaed in the Jones case when he first tried to find a job for her -- although Clinton's lawyers were aware that Lewinsky was a potential witness.

When he subsequently learned that Lewinsky had been subpoenaed by Jones' lawyers, Jordan reportedly was reassured by both Lewinsky and Clinton that they had not had a sexual relationship.

Duel over immunity

Yesterday, as Jordan was questioned by Whitewater prosecutors, Starr, whose appearances at the courthouse are rare, dueled with Ginsburg in a closed hearing before Judge Norma Holloway Johnson.

Ginsburg reportedly argued that he had secured from Starr a written offer of immunity from prosecution for his client in exchange for her testimony. But Starr has asserted that the document does not constitute a binding agreement.

Lewinsky, whose testimony is thought to be pivotal to the independent counsel's investigation, has been subpoenaed by Starr's office. But the conditions of her grand jury appearance, yet to be worked out, have been a point of contention between the independent counsel and her lawyer.

Pub Date: 3/06/98

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