Because this is so important, it helps to read the actual transcript. In retrospect, it's clear from the testimony below that Clinton is concealing his affair. That is his constitutional right -- as long as he gives accurate answers. The courts have ruled that it is up to prosecutors to root out the truth with specific, follow-up questions. The only issue here is: were Clinton's answers technically accurate?
Q. How do you know her?
A. She worked in the White House for a while, first as an intern, and then in, as the, in the legislative affairs office…
Q. Is it true that when she worked at the White House she met with you several times?
A. I don't know about several times. There was a period when the Republican Congress shut the Government down that the whole White House was being run by interns, and she was assigned to work back in the chief of staff's office, and we were all working there, and so I saw her on two or three occasions then, and then when she worked at the White House, I think there was one or two other times when she brought some documents to me.
Q. At any time were you and Monica alone together in the Oval Office?
A. I don't recall, but as I said, when she worked at the legislative affairs office, they always had somebody there on the weekends. I typically worked some on the weekends. Sometimes they'd bring me things on the weekends. She -- it seems to me she brought things to me once or twice on the weekends. In that case, whatever time she would be in there, drop it off, exchange a few words and go, she was there. I don't have any specific recollections of what the issues were, what was going on, but when the Congress is there, we're working all the time, and typically I would do some work on one of the days of the weekends in the afternoon.
Q. So I understand, your testimony is that it was possible, then, that you were alone with her, but you have no specific recollections of that ever happening?
A. Yes, that's correct. It's possible that she, in, while she was working there, brought something to me and that at the time she brought it to me, she was the only person there. That's possible.
Q. At any time were you and Monica Lewinsky alone in the hallway between the Oval Office and this kitchen area?
A. I don't believe so unless we were walking back to the back dining room with the pizza. I don't remember. I don't believe we were alone in the hallway, no.
Q. At any time, have you and Monica Lewinsky ever been alone together in any room in the White House?
A. I think I testified to that earlier. I think that there is -- it is -- I have no specific recollection, but it seems to me that she was on duty on a couple of occasions working for the legislative affairs office and brought me some things to sign, something on the weekend. I have a general memory of that.
Q. Do you remember anything that was said in any of those meetings?
A. No. You know, just to have conversation. I don't remember.
Q. Do you recall ever walking with Lewinsky down the hallway from the Oval Office to your private kitchen there in the White House?
A. … My recollection is that, that at some point during the government shutdown, when Ms. Lewinsky was still an intern but was working the chief of staff's office because all the employees had to go home, that she was back there with a pizza that she brought to me and to others. I do not believe she was there alone, however. I don't think she was. And my recollection is that on a couple of occasions after that she was there but my secretary, Betty Currie, was there with her…
Q. Have you ever met with Monica Lewinsky in the White House between the hours of midnight and 6 A.M.?
A. I certainly don't think so… Now, let me just say, when she was working there, during, there may have been a time when we were all -- we were up working late. There are lots of, on any given night, when the Congress is in session, there are always several people around until late in the night, but I don't have any memory of that. I just can't say that there could have been a time when that occurred, I just -- but I don't remember it.
Q. Certainly if it happened, nothing remarkable would have occurred?
A. No, nothing remarkable. I don't remember it.
Of course, when Starr’s Grand Jury met later that year, on August 17, 1998, Ms. Lewinsky recalled numerous times that she was alone with Clinton in the Oval Office complex. This was confirmed by the President’s secretary, Betty Currie, six Secret Service members and a White House steward. Even Clinton himself, in his later Grand Jury testimony, admitted that he had been alone with Ms. Lewinsky several times. Indeed, since he now admitted to "inappropriate intimate conduct" with her on numerous occasions, it seems nearly impossible that he could not have remembered being alone with her.
Critics charge that the President’s own conflicting testimony proves that he lied during the January 17 deposition. But does the President's testimony really conflict?
In his Grand Jury testimony, Clinton explained that he understood "alone" to mean "alone in the Oval Office complex," which includes not just the Oval Office but also the secretary's area, the study, the kitchen, the dining room, etc. And these were usually occupied with secretaries, stewards and Secret Service Agents. Clinton explained:
Republicans criticize his definition of "alone" as "parsing words." But this issue is hardly as clear cut as they would like to think. Consider a few examples familiar to everybody. A master bedroom has both a bedroom and a bathroom. If a husband is sleeping in bed while his wife is in the bathroom, then is the husband alone in the bedroom? The answer can go either way. Likewise, you might say that you are "alone" in your house. But what about the tenant in your guest room who has a door to your hallway but never uses it, instead always leaving out his own back door? If both of you are there, are you alone in your house? The answer can go either way.
Most Americans think the Oval Office is the one room featuring the president's desk, but to those who work at the White House, "Oval Office" refers to the entire Oval Office complex, much like the "East Wing" and "West Wing" are collective entities. To prove perjury, prosecutors must give evidence that Clinton lied, not that he took the wrong half of a reasonably ambiguous definition. Furthermore, even if Clinton intentionally took the wrong half of an ambiguous definition, it would still not be perjury, because it is up to prosecutors to clarify ambiguities.
Clinton's lawyers pointed this out in their rebuttal to the Starr Report:
A second line of defense is that this perjury charge, even if true, cannot be prosecuted because it is immaterial (irrelevant) to the deposition. Clinton’s affair with Ms. Lewinsky was legal and consensual, and bore no relevance to the sexual harassment suit filed by Paula Jones. True, investigators have a legal right to investigate office affairs to establish a pattern suggesting sexual harassment, but in this case it turned out to be irrelevant, because Lewinsky was not harassed. At any rate, there are profound questions about the materiality of bringing criminal perjury charges from this dismissed civil suit.
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