Presidential confidant Bruce Lindsey appeared at a federal grand jury Wednesday, as new information surfaced about what may have led a colleague of Monica Lewinsky to turn over to prosecutors secret tapes suggesting a presidential affair and cover-up.
New York book agent Lucianne Goldberg said that a month before Linda Tripp provided her secret recording of conversations with Lewinsky to prosecutors, Tripp became concerned her tapes might be illegal and began looking for a new lawyer to seek immunity from prosecution.Goldberg, who was advising Tripp last year, said in an interview Tuesday that it was that concern that eventually led Tripp to an attorney and eventually, Whitewater Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr.
Tripp's attorneys at the time had convinced her that "she had done something illegal and awful and she panicked and she wanted immunity, and she had to have a lawyer now who knew how to get her immunity on the tapes," Goldberg said.
Victoria Toensing, a prominent Washington attorney, confirmed Tuesday she was approached by a lawyer about Tripp's concerns in December and was asked to represent her but did not take the case.
James Moody, Tripp's current lawyer, said his client went to Starr in January because she was being asked by Lewinsky to lie in Paula Jones' sexual harassment lawsuit against President Clinton.
"She was to a point where there was crime going on, about to go on, and she was going to get dragged into it," said Moody. "She was being asked to participate in a cover-up."
Lindsey appeared Wednesday at the grand jury Starr is using to conduct his investigation. Among those who accompanied Lindsey was Deputy White House counsel Cheryl Mills. Lindsey, a lawyer who has been at Clinton's side since his first campaign for president, has an office just down the hall from the Oval Office and has unfettered access to the president.
At the White House, presidential spokesman Mike McCurry declined to say whether Lindsey would refuse to answer questions because of concerns about executive privilege. Recently, White House officials raised the prospect that Lindsey and another top official, deputy chief of staff John Podesta, might not be able to answer questions regarding their conversations with the president and his lawyers about Lewinsky because of concerns about preserving executive privilege.
Meanwhile, a lawyer for Lewinsky's mother, Marcia Lewis, went before the court's chief judge Wednesday in an apparent attempt to forestall further questioning. Billy Martin declined to comment before the start of the closed proceeding before U.S. District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson, who supervises the grand jury. Lewis appeared distraught as she left the courthouse Thursday following nearly two days of testimony.
In a related matter, the Washington Post reported Wednesday the grand jury has issued a subpoena to Kathleen Willey. Willey is a former volunteer White House aide who reportedly has said in a deposition in the Jones case that Clinton groped her when she went to his office in November 1993 seeking a full-time job.
In Little Rock, Ark., on Tuesday, Clinton's attorneys asked a federal judge to dismiss Jones' lawsuit, claiming she had made an "unfounded case." Inside their 500 pages of arguments, supporting affidavits and depositions, the Clinton lawyers for the first time divulged portions of her sworn deposition in the case.
Jones claims Clinton propositioned her in a Little Rock hotel room in May 1991.