President Clinton's lawyers are making plans to write their own report on the Monica Lewinsky affair to counter damaging conclusions in Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr's expected report to Congress. They're asking Starr to provide them an advance peek at his document and time to submit a written reply.
With a report from Starr expected to be sent to Congress, perhaps later this month, the president's lawyers are concerned it will be one-sided and include extensive conclusions and legal analysis instead of simply a listing of facts gathered in the seven-month investigation into the president's involvement with the former White House intern.The president's lawyers want to produce their own point-by-point response to any Starr document, including their own analysis of the facts. They also want to include more favorable evidence gathered by Clinton's legal team.
David Kendall, the president's personal lawyer, on Monday asked Starr to provide the White House a copy of any report he intends to send to Congress at least a week in advance, so the president has an opportunity to reply.
"Elemental fairness dictates that we be allowed to respond to any `report' you send to the House simultaneously with its transmission," Kendall wrote Starr.
Officials in Starr's office would not comment immediately on the request. But several Democratic congressmen said Starr should accommodate the president's request.
"It's not only the fairest way but the best way to find the truth," Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., said on CNN's "Larry King Live" program Monday night.
Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., who during the weekend said he fully expects impeachment proceedings to grow out of the Lewinsky investigation, said allowing Clinton's lawyers to review and comment on any Starr report was "an appropriate, professional courtesy."
Some of the president's political advisers have argued for weeks that Clinton's legal team should prepare a separate report countering the special prosecutor's findings in the obstruction of justice and perjury investigation of Clinton's affair with Lewinsky.
A second, more favorable report would provide Clinton's Democratic allies on Capitol Hill with ammunition to argue against starting impeachment proceedings as well as influence public perceptions, some advisers maintain.
House Democrats also have complained that the Republican leadership will shut them out of any planning on how to handle Starr's report when it is sent to Capitol Hill. With the House returning from its August recess this week, planning for the expected Starr report was at the top of House leaders' agenda.
House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., and Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., along with the chairman and ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, were scheduled to meet Wednesday to discuss handling for any Starr report.