February 12, 1998 in Nation/World

Testimony Leaves Lewinsky’s Mom Visibly Distraught Marcia Lewis Faces Further Questioning Before Grand Jury

Los Angeles Times
 

A red-eyed and visibly distraught Marcia Lewis ended her second day of secret testimony Wednesday before a federal grand jury investigating allegations that her daughter, former White House intern Monica S. Lewinsky, had an affair with President Clinton and helped him cover it up.

Lewis, who faces further questioning, offered no comment as she left the federal courthouse at the end of the day, but the confident demeanor of Tuesday’s appearance had evaporated and she appeared to have been crying.

“It’s an ordeal. No one should have to go through this,” said Billy Martin, her attorney. “No mother should ever be forced by federal prosecutors to testify against their child.”

In addition to concern about the potential problems her testimony could pose for Lewinsky, Lewis has legal worries of her own in Independent Counsel Kenneth W. Starr’s investigation of the matter.

Lewis and her daughter are known to have a very close relationship. Accounts of conversations with Lewinsky secretly taped by her co-worker Linda R. Tripp suggest that Lewis was a party to discussions about how Tripp could avoid or mislead lawyers representing Paula C. Jones in her sexual harassment lawsuit against Clinton.

Jones’ lawyers were investigating Lewinsky’s relationship with the president, as well as other matters, and Tripp is expected to be called to testify about what she knew.

If Lewis helped counsel Tripp to lie under oath or evade telling the truth, as accounts of Tripp’s tape recordings suggest, then both mother and daughter could be in legal jeopardy.

Starr could use the specter of prosecution to pressure Lewis into helping him. Unlike spouses, parents cannot legally decline to testify about their children.

Meantime, there were these other developments:

Lawyers for Lewinsky filed two motions with the chief federal district court judge in Washington, Norma Holloway Johnson. One seeks to void a subpoena calling for Lewinsky’s testimony before the grand jury. The other calls on Johnson to enforce what Lewinsky’s lawyers say is an agreement with Starr requiring a full grant of immunity from prosecution for their client in exchange for her cooperation.

A county prosecutor in Maryland asked state officials to make the decision on whether to investigate Tripp for allegedly violating state laws when she secretly taped her telephone conversations with Lewinsky. Maryland law permits taping of telephone calls only when both parties consent.

Sen. Robert Torricelli, D-N.J., urged Attorney General Janet Reno to investigate whether Starr has improper conflicts of interest, noting that he consulted with attorneys for Jones in the months before being named independent counsel in the Whitewater land deal and did work for a conservative group, the Bradley Foundation, that has financed some Clinton opponents.


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