Series of other legal perils surfaced in investigation Prosecutor is looking for evidence of other possible criminal acts


WASHINGTON -- President Clinton still faces a series of legal perils that are separate from whether he lied about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky.

The Whitewater independent counsel, Kenneth W. Starr, has been examining not only whether Clinton lied under oath in January about the relationship, but also whether he engaged in other possible criminal conduct -- an effort with Lewinsky and others to obstruct justice, tamper with witnesses or persuade people to lie, known legally as suborning perjury.

Some of the issues include whether Clinton colluded with Lewinsky to tailor her story, whether he counseled her to conceal gifts he had given her and whether he participated in an effort to zTC help her find a desirable job as a reward for her silence.

While the issue of a sexual relationship between Clinton and Lewinsky has occupied most of the public commentary, Starr's view of the investigation, people close to him say, has always been that any untruthfulness about the sexual relationship was part of a wider pattern of deception on the part of the Clinton White House.

Some of the questions concern conversations Clinton may have had with Lewinsky, a former White House intern, once it became known that she might become a witness in the sexual misconduct lawsuit brought against the president by Paula Corbin Jones.

Jones, a former clerical worker for the state of Arkansas, had sued Clinton, charging that in 1991, when he was governor of Arkansas, he made a crude sexual advance that she rebuffed.

On Jan. 17, in a deposition taken by lawyers for Jones, Clinton denied having had "sexual relations" with Lewinsky.

Alleged conversation

Lewinsky has told friends and presumably testified before the grand jury that in the middle of December she had a conversation with Clinton in which he told her: "If two people are in a room, and they both say nothing happened, how will anyone know?"

This conversation would have taken place before Lewinsky had been subpoenaed in the Jones lawsuit, although Lewinsky's name had by then appeared on a list of potential witnesses.

In the Jan. 17 deposition, Clinton replied "I'm not sure" when asked whether he had discussed with Lewinsky her possible testimony.

A judge dismissed Jones' lawsuit in April, but legal experts have said that Clinton could still be liable for any crime he committed while the suit was alive.

The precise wording of any conversation the president and Lewinsky had about her testimony could be important because lawyers say there is a thin line between suborning perjury and discussing hypothetical situations. Lewinsky provided an affidavit in the Jones case in which she denied having had a sexual relationship with Clinton.

Lewinsky also told the grand jury that Clinton gave her gifts, according to people familiar with her testimony.

Tracking gifts

She has also told friends that he told her she could avoid turning the gifts over to lawyers for Jones if she no longer possessed them.

Investigators are exploring the movement of the gifts -- a brooch, a shirtdress, a book of poetry and a hatpin -- after Lewinsky received them.

The gifts were, for a time, in the possession of Clinton's personal secretary, Betty Currie, who has also testified before the grand jury.

Investigators are also trying to determine whether efforts to obtain a job for Lewinsky in New York were part of a conspiracy to cover up the sexual relationship by rewarding her for concealing it.

Vernon Jordan, an influential Washington lawyer and close friend of the president, helped arrange for Lewinsky to get a job with the Revlon Corp. in New York.

The job offer was withdrawn after the investigation of a possible sexual relationship between Lewinsky and the president was disclosed.

Pub Date: 8/18/98

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