February 2, 1998 in Nation/World

Lewinsky Will Take Polygraph, Attorney Says Ginsburg Says Voluntary Test Would Prove Her Account Of Relationship With President

New York Times
 

Monica Lewinsky, the former White House intern at the center of the current investigation, is willing to submit to a polygraph examination in exchange for complete immunity from prosecution, her lawyer said Sunday.

The lawyer, William Ginsburg, whose tone in a blitz of five television appearances sounded less hostile to President Clinton than it was just a few days ago, said that Lewinsky would voluntarily take the test to prove the truthfulness of her account of a relationship with Clinton.

On the airwaves and behind the scenes Sunday, a delicate dance between Ginsburg and Kenneth Starr, the independent prosecutor, was being played out. Ginsburg predicted that Clinton would emerge virtually unscathed from the political and legal frenzy.

“It’ll go away, It’ll pass,” he said in one of his television appearances. “The president will remain in office, he’ll do a good job, we’ll all, hopefully, have a sound economy, keep our jobs, and I think everything’s going to be fine.”

To emphasize that point, Ginsburg portrayed his client Sunday as a witness more sympathetic to the president than was assumed at first. This gambit might be intended to pressure Starr to moderate his hard-line attitude toward her as a potential witness.

Ginsburg said Lewinsky, 24, would submit to a polygraph exam only if Starr promises not to charge her with lying in an affidavit she provided for the sexual misconduct case against Clinton filed by Paula Jones.

However, Starr is balking at granting blanket immunity to Lewinsky until he is certain that she is a credible witness, lawyers involved in the talks say. Lewinsky’s testimony is critical to the independent counsel’s effort to establish whether Clinton carried on a sexual affair with Lewinsky and then sought to have her lie about it under oath.

In past discussions with Ginsburg, lawyers for Starr, reflecting doubts over Lewinsky’s reliability as a witness, have said she should take a polygraph exam before they will consider accepting her offer to tell them everything she knows.

The difference over the timing of the polygraph exam has become a major problem blocking an agreement between the independent counsel and Lewinsky, attorneys said Sunday.

Ginsburg acknowledged Sunday that he may not know the complete story, because he knows only what Lewinsky has told him, some of which contradicts what she reportedly has told friends about the matter. Nor does he know what Clinton is prepared to say about his dealings with Lewinsky.

The president has emphatically denied having had sexual relations with Lewinsky or telling her to lie.

“I don’t know the whole truth,” Ginsburg conceded in an interview on the Fox television network. “I don’t think anyone knows the whole truth, because I don’t think anyone has seen all the pieces of the puzzle.”


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