The Not Very Grand Inquisitor

Communication from the Office of the Independent Counsel, Kenneth W. Starr: Appendices to the Referral to the United States House of Representatives pursuant to Title 28, United States Code, å¤595(c), Parts 1 and 2

Submitted by the Office of the Independent Counsel
US Government Printing Office, 3,183 pp.

Linda Tripp
Linda Tripp; drawing by David Levine

At 12:45 PM last January 16, Monica Lewinsky waited in the food court of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Crystal City, Virginia, for her friend and Pentagon colleague Linda Tripp. “She was late,” a distraught Lewinsky later testified to a federal grand jury. “I saw her come down the escalator. And as I—as I walked toward her, she kind of motioned behind her and Agent [redacted] and Agent [redacted] presented themselves to me and—“

A juror: “Do you want to take a minute?”

Lewinsky: “And flashed their badges at me. They told me that I was under some kind of investigation, something [that] had to do with the Paula Jones case.” Lewinsky told the FBI she would not speak to them without a lawyer. The agents said her lawyer could not help her. In her grand jury testimony, she began to cry and then continued her tale: The agents led her to a room in the hotel and one of Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr’s deputies, Michael Emmick, invoked the name of Attorney General Janet Reno as authorizing his investigation. Emmick and the two FBI agents threatened her with prison.

“They told me…they knew that I had signed a false affidavit,” Lewinsky told the jurors, “that…they had me on tape saying I had committed perjury,…that I could go to jail for twenty-seven years, they were going to charge me with perjury and obstruction of justice and subornation of perjury and witness tampering and something else.” Although Lewinsky was free to go, she feared she would be arrested if she tried to leave the room. When she asked to call her mother, Marcia Lewis, another of Starr’s deputies, Jackie Bennett, said, “You’re twenty-four, you’re smart, you’re old enough, you don’t need to call your mommy.”

“And so then they told me I should know that they were planning to prosecute my mom for the things that I had said that she had done,” Lewinsky told the jurors, and she began to weep again. In all, Starr’s deputies and FBI agents kept Lewinsky in the hotel room, with breaks for meals and, incongruously, a window-shopping tour, for eleven hours, trying to recruit her to wear a recording device and make an immunity deal without the advice of a lawyer.

If the Starr group’s behavior does not rise to Gestapo tactics, it recalls that rascally police detachment on the island of Grenada that, until it changed its name to Volunteers for the Defense of Fundamental Human Liberties, was called the Night Ambush Squad. It is hard to believe that Starr thought he had a serious criminal case against Lewinsky, who had been carrying on an illicit sexual affair with President Clinton from November 1995 until March 1997. Rather, Starr was, by Lewinsky’s account, terrorizing her so that he could bring perjury and obstruction of justice charges against Clinton for concealing their sexual relationship from the lawyers representing…

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