WASHINGTON - When federal investigators confronted Monica Lewinsky last month at a Northern Virginia hotel, the first thing the former White House intern did was call her mother, Marcia Lewis. In New York with her fiance, Lewis immediately hopped a train to be by her daughter's side at a time of crisis.
Yesterday, Lewinsky repaid the favor, flying from Los Angeles to Washington to be with her mother - her confidante, sometime roommate and best friend - after the 49-year-old Lewis emerged from two days of questioning before a federal grand jury so shaken and distraught that she required medical attention.
Prosecutors, who have given Lewis limited immunity in exchange for her testimony, had hoped she would provide a window into her daughter's actions and perhaps a preview of what Lewinsky is likely to say when she is brought before the federal panel, possibly next week.
Negotiations toward a deal under which Lewinsky would testify remained at a stalemate yesterday as the 24-year-old returned to her Watergate home after spending nine days in California with her father, a Los Angeles doctor.
"Her mother needs her right now," Lewinsky's lawyer, William Ginsburg, said yesterday.
Lewis, who goes by the shortened form of Lewinsky that she adopted as a pen name, did not return to the grand jury yesterday as expected. After testifying for nearly three hours Tuesday and five hours Wednesday, the usually glamorous Lewis looked ashen and haggard. The session had been "emotionally draining," said her lawyer, Billy Martin, and she could not complete her testimony.
Martin said no date had been set for Lewis to resume testifying.
"It's been unbelievable for her," said Lewis' fiance, R. Peter Straus, a New York communications executive. "She's a very private, very sensitive person. It must be perfectly terrible for her."
Lewis and Lewinsky have always had a close relationship and, friends say, mother and daughter are two of a kind. Lewis, a friend has said, "is Monica squared," a head-turning, Mercedes- and Rodeo Drive-type woman drawn to celebrity and the limelight.
The two talk every day, an acquaintance said, shop together, live together in an apartment at the Watergate complex when Lewis is not in New York with Straus, and have even dieted together since Monica was a child. Lewinsky told colleagues at the Pentagon, where she worked after being transferred from the White House in April 1996, that she planned to move to New York this year because her mother would be spending more time there.
Lucianne Goldberg, the New York literary agent who has heard some of the secretly taped conversations between Lewinsky and her former White House colleague Linda R. Tripp - in which Lewinsky talks about a sexual affair with Clinton - said Lewinsky's mother knew "everything" about her daughter's relationship with the president.
"She was almost a part of it," Goldberg said.
Lewis reportedly was in constant contact with her daughter over the past several months as Lewinsky tried to figure out what to do in response to the subpoena she received in the Paula Corbin Jones sexual misconduct lawsuit.
People familiar with the tapes that Tripp made of her conversations with Lewinsky have said that on the tapes, Lewinsky suggests that her mother encouraged her to lie to Jones' lawyers about her relationship with Clinton so as to avoid trouble.
In one tape-recorded telephone conversation published in Newsweek, Lewinsky put Tripp on hold when her mother called. Returning to her call with Tripp, Lewinsky said her mother thought it was a "brilliant" idea for Tripp to stage a foot injury to avoid giving a deposition in the Jones case.
Martin, Lewis' attorney, did not respond to calls to his office.
The limited immunity Lewis received in exchange for her testimony this week prevents Kenneth W. Starr, the Whitewater independent counsel, from using her statements to the grand jury against her should prosecutors decide to charge Lewis with encouraging her daughter or Tripp to lie under oath in the Jones case.
On that pivotal day last month, when Starr's agents confronted Lewinsky at the Ritz Carlton hotel, she refused to talk to investigators until her mother arrived from New York.
While she waited, Lewinsky shopped in the mall, watched a movie on TV in a hotel room and ate dinner. When, about five hours later, Lewis arrived, she reportedly said to the investigators: "What's the big deal? So she lied and tried to convince someone else to lie?"
Lewis then called her former husband and Monica's father, Bernard Lewinsky, the head of a lucrative oncology practice in Southern California, to seek further guidance.
By all accounts, the Lewinsky family seemed straight out of the television show "Beverly Hills 90210" - the tony address of the $1.6 million Mediterranean-style mansion with the red-tile roof the family lived in during Monica's youth.