Just two days before her daughter is to be questioned before a federal grand jury, Monica Lewinsky’s mother, Marcia Lewis, made an appearance before the panel.
After her lawyer, Billy Martin, unsuccessfully tried to keep her from testifying, Lewis spent three hours before the 23-member grand jury. Lewis, a New Yorker who rented an apartment at the Watergate complex where her daughter lived, declined to comment afterward.
Lewinsky is expected to be called before the grand jury Thursday. Her lawyer, William Ginsburg, has said he would try to block her testimony pending an offer of immunity from independent counsel Kenneth Starr.
But perhaps anticipating a similar fate as his client’s mother, Ginsburg told reporters in California that the former White House intern is prepared to testify if prosecutors get a court order compelling her to do so.
“She will not go to jail like Susan McDougal,” Ginsburg said, referring to President Clinton’s Whitewater partner who has been in jail since September 1996 for refusing to testify in the Whitewater investigation.
“She has no intention of falling on her sword.”
Ginsburg has said Starr wrongly rescinded an immunity agreement with Lewinsky and that he plans to go to court to enforce it. He was expected to make that argument in a secret court filing.
Ginsburg told reporters in California he would come to Washington on Thursday or Friday.
Lewinsky’s mother is expected to testify again today.
According to published reports, Lewinsky confided to her mother about having an affair with President Clinton - a claim both Lewinsky and Clinton have denied under oath. Published reports also have said Lewinsky is on tape telling Linda Tripp that her mother advised her to lie in the Paula Jones sexual-harassment suit against the president.
In a development in that suit, U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright in Little Rock, Ark., denied a request by Clinton’s lawyers to move up the May 27 starting date for the trial. Wright said an earlier date could hamper preparation by Jones’ lawyers.
Speculating about what will happen when Lewinsky appears before the grand jury has become something of a parlor game, at least in legal circles.
Lewinsky most likely will invoke her Fifth Amendment rights, which protect her against self-incrimination. At that point, Starr likely would provide her with “use immunity,” which means she must testify but that nothing she says can be used against her. Starr still could prosecute her based on other evidence, if he has it. Only under full immunity could Lewinsky avoid prosecution altogether.
Ginsburg, writing in the latest issue of Time magazine, said Lewinsky’s testimony “may not be the way Starr wants it. It may not be the way Clinton wants it. But it’s credible. … She has seen the reports that Starr is supposedly trying to squeeze her. She is not willing to change her story to meet the needs of the prosecutor.”
From these comments, lawyers speculate that Lewinsky might admit only that she had a sexual relationship with the president but deny that the president or his friend Vernon Jordan tried to get her to lie about it.