A peek into the final boxes What if: The independent counsel's remaining evidence may not contain any more blockbusters, but maybe it's worth a look anyway.

October 02, 1998|By Rob Hiaasen | Rob Hiaasen,SUN STAFF

The well isn't dry yet. A few crummy drops are left. This week the House Judiciary Committee agreed to allow a bipartisan legal team to review 20 boxes of evidence still unseen from the independent counsel's investigation of President Clinton.

Kenneth Starr's office has characterized the remaining material as "background" and only tangentially linked to the report sent to Congress.

Democrats on the Judiciary Committee called for the bipartisan group, as Republican counterparts claimed Democrats just want find evidence to embarrass Starr. (Such mistrust!)

As is typical with the Clinton-Lewinsky story-fest, though, leaks have leaked from the well. Three of the remaining 20 sealed boxes recently fell into the hands of certain individuals who are only tangentially linked to the press corps. Regardless, in the name of public service (that's Mr. Public Service to you), here are the total contents of the three boxes:

Box No. 4, also known as "The Fourth Box": Contains, as it turns out, only Starr's baseball cards and Playboy magazine collection (1971-1980). Note: Starr has the very rare Honus Wagner tobacco card and every Ty Cobb baseball card (including the famous one where Cobb was photographed accidentally smiling).

The magazines have been left undisturbed, except for one. Starr has flagged Playboy's interview with Jimmy Carter, who admitted to "lusting in his heart" over women not named Rosalynn. In the margins of the article, someone has written in a black Flair pen: "Can we impeach?!"

Box No. 11: Contains, specifically and exclusively, more boxes.

Box No. 18: Contains extra excerpts from President Clinton's grand jury testimony of Aug. 17. The following is an excerpt from the extra excerpts:

Q: My name is Kenneth W. Starr, special prosecutor with the Office of Independent Counsel. Mr. President, were you ever alone with Hillary Clinton?"

A. Well, I think I should tell you, and I think I have said this before, that is, I believe I have already answered your question, in relation that is, to what I understood the legal definition of "alone" to be, at the time I was deposed in January in that, you know, that other matter.

I want to give you the correct answer, that is, the answer that both appears correct and, in a legal sense, is correct. A correct answer. That is what I'm trying to give here, sir.

Q. We appreciate your honesty, Mr. President. As we've believed all along, you have been nothing but completely honest with the American public and with this independent counsel's office. Frankly, I see no reason for you and me to continue. Do you?

A. Well, sir, I want to answer your question correctly. Do I see any reason for us being here? By that, I assume I can infer or deduce by "you and me" you mean, quite correctly, "Mr. Starr and Mr. Clinton." And, yes, sir, we are in fact here, together, but I would not say that we are "alone."

As I believe the common understanding of the term "alone," it would not apply to so-called "you and me" at this time.

Q. Can you tell me why I started this investigation in the first place? For the life of me, I can't remember.

A. I don't remember anything I said to you in this regard. In fact, I don't remember you asking me that question just now.

Q. I'm really tired, and you're not looking so peppy either, Mr. President. So, let's bag this whole investigation. What do you say?

A. Well, I have never said anything about it, that is, until your office contacted me, I have no specific memory of having said "it" in whatever context you imply. The phrase, "bag this whole JTC investigation," is yours, Mr. Starr. I can make an educated guess as to what you are implying, but I prefer to give only correct answers.

Q. So, you want this investigation to drag on, as you face possible impeachment, public damnation and a life spent alone and in disgrace?

A. Just a minute, sir. As I think I have stated, I want to correctly understand what you mean by "alone." I have testified now three times to your trick question. And I repeat that your phrase (not mine) "life spent alone" is not my common or legal understanding the word.

Q. You hate me, don't you?

A. Correct.

Pub Date: 10/02/98

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