A government official says a member of the Secret Service's uniformed division told a grand jury that he and a top aide to President Clinton saw Clinton and Monica Lewinsky alone in a room just off the Oval Office - but not engaged in any improper behavior.
The testimony prompted Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr to call the presidential aide, Harold Ickes, who at the time was Clinton's deputy chief of staff, before a grand jury Thursday. The Secret Service officer's account, if accurate, would add a White House aide as witness to a Clinton-Lewinsky meeting alone.The government official, insisting on anonymity, said the uniformed officer posted outside the Oval Office received a telephone call from the White House operator one Saturday. When the operator requested Clinton, the officer noticed Ickes walking down the hallway and told him there was a call for the president.
Ickes and the officer looked for the president in the Oval Office. Clinton was not there, so they opened the door to an adjoining room. The official said they found Clinton and Lewinsky alone together. The official did not identify the uniformed officer.
A retired uniformed division officer, Lewis Fox, has said Clinton and Lewinsky were alone in the Oval Office for 40 minutes in late 1995. Clinton testified under oath that he could not recall being alone with Lewinsky.
Starr is trying to determine whether Clinton had an affair with the intern, lied about it under oath and attempted to cover it up. Clinton has denied those allegations.
The testimony may turn the attention to Ickes and other White House advisers who may have seen Clinton and Lewinsky alone, the official said. Several uniformed officers have testified to the Starr grand jury since the Supreme Court cleared the way last week.
Ickes denied the story to CBS, which reported Thursday that the alleged incident took place in early 1996. Ickes, now an informal adviser to Clinton on the Lewinsky matter, could not be reached by The Associated Press. Earlier, Ickes told the AP that he was not asked about Lewinsky during his 20 minutes before the grand jury.
Speeding up the Lewinsky investigation, Starr used two grand juries simultaneously Thursday so he also could take testimony from the president's chief bodyguard.
Secret Service agent Larry Cockell testified for an hour, and his attorney indicated there were no questions about Clinton's conversations with his private lawyers following the president's Jan. 17 deposition in the Paula Jones sexual harassment lawsuit.
"He did not have to invoke privilege for any of the questions that were asked," said lawyer John Kotelly.