With their investigation of allegations of perjury and obstruction of justice now three weeks old, prosecutors on Wednesday sought to impose a deadline for former White House intern Monica Lewinsky to cooperate fully or face criminal charges.
Lewinsky has sought full immunity from prosecution and has signaled a willingness to describe the nature of her relationship with President Clinton, according to people familiar with the matter.
They said Lewinsky has so far declined to detail the extent to which the president or others talked to her about testimony she was to give in a civil lawsuit against Clinton.
Lawyers under independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr are examining whether Clinton or others, including presidential adviser Vernon E. Jordan Jr., encouraged Lewinsky to testify less than truthfully in that sexual-harassment lawsuit, brought by former Arkansas state employee Paula Jones.
As the volatile negotiations between Starr’s staff and Lewinsky’s lawyers lurched forward by telephone, a frenzy erupted over Wednesday’s grand jury testimony by a 50-year-old White House valet.
An attorney for the valet, who is a 15-year employee at the White House, vehemently denied a report by one news organization that his client had testified that he observed Clinton and Lewinsky alone, in a study adjacent to the Oval Office.
The report posted Wednesday evening on the Internet by the Wall Street Journal, said the valet, Bayani B. Nelvis, testified he “was personally offended” by what he observed and that he had reported the matter to the Secret Service.
The valet’s attorney, Joseph T. Small Jr., termed the Journal report false in its entirety.
“The report of the Wall Street Journal is absolutely false and irresponsible, in every respect that makes it newsworthy,” Small said.
A spokesman for Clinton said the White House had nothing to add to the denials of the Journal report issued by the valet’s attorney.
A personal assistant to the president, Chris Engskov, also testified before the grand jury. He did not return calls seeking his comment.
Meanwhile, negotiations over whether Lewinsky will receive immunity from prosecution continued as lawyers wrangled over the specifics of what she is willing to say under oath.
For the first time, Lewinsky’s lawyers have submitted in writing the outlines of what she would say under oath, those familiar with the case said.
Lewinsky’s lead attorney, William Ginsburg, said he expects the talks to continue while both he and his co-counsel, Nathaniel H. Speights III, meet in Los Angeles with their client. Lewinsky, who grew up in Beverly Hills, is visiting her father in Brentwood.
Ginsburg said he does not feel bound or pressured by the deadline of about a week, which Starr’s assistants are seeking to impose.