Excerpts from president's grand jury testimony TESTIMONY AND SUPPORTING EVIDENCE FROM THE STARR REPORT

September 22, 1998

Q. My name is Robert Bittman. I'm an attorney with the Office of Independent Counsel. ... Mr. President, were you physically intimate with Monica Lewinsky?

A. Mr. Bittman, I think maybe I can save the you and the grand jurors a lot of time if I read a statement which I think will make it clear what the nature of my relationship with Ms. Lewinsky was. And with your permission, I'd like to read that statement.

Q. Absolutely. Please, Mr. President.

A. When I was alone with Ms. Lewinsky on certain occasions in early 1996, and once in early 1997, I engaged in conduct that was wrong. These encounters did not consist of sexual intercourse. They did not constitute sexual relations, as I understood that term to be defined at my January 17th, 1998, deposition [in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case].

But they did involve inappropriate, intimate contact. These inappropriate encounters ended at my insistence in early 1997. I also had occasional telephone conversations with Ms. Lewinsky that included inappropriate sexual banter.

I regret that what began as a friendship came to include this conduct. And I take full responsibility for my actions. While I will provide the grand jury whatever other information I can, because privacy considerations affecting my family, myself and others, and in an effort to preserve the dignity of the office I hold, this is all I will say about the specifics of these particular matters.

I will try to answer to the best of my ability other questions, including questions about my relationship with Ms. Lewinsky, questions about my understanding of the term of sexual relations, as I understood it to be defined at my January 17th, 1998, deposition, and questions concerning alleged subornation of perjury, obstruction of justice and intimidation of witnesses.

That, Mr. Bittman, is my statement.

Q. Mr. President, your statement [in his deposition in the Jones case] indicates that your contacts with Ms. Lewinsky did not involve any inappropriate intimate contact ...

A. No, sir, it indicates that it did ... (inaudible) ... inappropriate intimate contact.

Q. OK, it did involve inappropriate intimate contact.

A. Yes, sir, it did. ...

Q. Do you remember in the deposition that Mr. [Robert S.] Bennett [Clinton's lawyer] asked you about that? ... [H]e asked you whether the statement that Ms. Lewinsky made in her affidavit [denying any sexual relationship with the president] was true. And you indicated that it was absolutely correct.

A. I did. And at the time that she made the statement . . . if she believed that the definition of sexual relationship was two people having intercourse, then this is accurate. And I believe that is the definition that most ordinary Americans would give it.

If you said Jane and Harry had a sexual relationship and they're not talking about people being drawn into a lawsuit and being given a definition and then a great effort to trick them in some way but you're just talking about people in an ordinary conversation, I bet the grand jurors, if they were talking about two people they know and said they had a sexual relationship, they meant they were sleeping together. They meant they were having intercourse together.

So I'm not at all sure that this affidavit is not true and was not true in Ms. Lewinsky's mind at the time she swore (inaudible) it out. ...

Q. So your definition of sexual relationship is intercourse only, is that correct?

A. No, not necessarily intercourse only, but it would include intercourse. I believe I believe that the common understanding of the term, if you say two people are having a sexual relationship, most people believe that includes intercourse. So if that's what Ms. Lewinsky thought, then this is a truthful affidavit ...

Q. Well, if you do you agree with me that he [Bennett] misled [U.S. District Judge Susan Webber] Wright in some way, that you would have corrected the record and said, "Excuse me, Mr. Bennett, I think the judge is getting a misimpression by what you're saying?"

A. Mr. Bennett was representing me. I wasn't representing him. And I wasn't even paying much attention to this conversation, which is why when you started asking me about this, I asked to see the deposition. . . . By the time this discovery started, they knew they had a base case on the law. And they knew what our evidence was they knew they had a lousy case on the facts.

And so their strategy, since they were being funded by my political opponents, was to have this dragnet of discovery.

They wanted to cover everybody. ... And so with that broad mandate, limited by time and employment in the federal, state government, they proceeded to cross the country and try to turn up whatever they could not because they thought it would help their case. By the time they did this discovery, they knew what the deal was in that case. And they knew what was going to happen. Judge Wright subsequently threw it out.

What they...

Q. But...

A. Now let me finish, Mr. Bennett. You've got I mean, you brought this up.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.