Julie Hiatt Steele, a friend of Kathleen Willey, released a sworn affidavit Wednesday night, accusing Willey of asking her to lie to corroborate her account of being sexually groped in the Oval Office by President Clinton.
The affidavit repeats Steele's contention that in conversations shortly after Willey's meeting at the White House in 1993, Willey "never said anything to suggest that President Clinton made sexual advances toward her or otherwise acted inappropriately in her presence."The timing of the release of Steele's affidavit coincides with this week's concerted effort by the White House to control the damage from Willey's graphic account on the CBS news program "60 Minutes" on Sunday evening of the alleged sexual encounter with the president.
The White House earlier this week released letters from Willey to the president that portrayed a warm relationship and gave no hint that anything untoward had occurred between them.
In a short statement attached to the affidavit, Steele and her lawyer, Nancy Luque, call Steele "nobody's pawn," rebutting Willey's description of her friend when confronted with Steele's conflicting account in the television interview.
"The White House wanted to try to discredit me, and they found a pawn in her," Willey said in the interview.
Steele, who has known Willey for 20 years, said that in the spring of 1997, Willey called to tell her that she had just told Michael Isikoff, a reporter for Newsweek magazine, that the president "had `groped' her and pulled at her clothing." She asked Steele to tell Isikoff that she had given Steele the same account after going to her house after the meeting with Clinton on Nov. 29, 1993.
Steele complied with her friend's request, although she said that Willey had not visited her house that day and that she had no knowledge of any such incident. She acknowledged later in the affidavit, filed as evidence in the Paula Jones sexual misconduct lawsuit against Clinton: "Mrs. Willey had asked me to lie to support her version of the event and that I had, in fact, done so."