Jesuit's Corner

Jesuit's Corner

Jesuit's Corner

Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
Sept. 13 1998 5:03 PM

Jesuit's Corner

Eagle-eyed Slate readers will spot a seeming factual discrepancy between

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Chatterbox item on Clinton's abuse of power, "That Clinton Touch," and David Plotz's piece, "Flytrap Today: High School, Not High Crimes ." Chatterbox's item interpreted the meaning of Clinton's refusal to answer a grand jury question about whether he told his secretary, Betty Currie, "I never touched [Lewinsky], right?" Plotz's piece reports that Clinton claimed that by saying this to Currie he was refreshing his memory--an alibi Plotz quite rightly dismisses as nonsensical, but which suggests, contrary to Chatterbox, that Clinton did answer a grand jury question about this seemingly incriminating statement. What gives?

It turns out that we're both right. Clinton did refuse to answer the question in the instance

cited by Chatterbox, but in another instance Clinton was asked about the "I never touched her" statement, or perhaps a series of statements of which this was one, and he did answer, albeit with the evasion Plotz cites ("I told you, the only thing I remember is when all this stuff blew up, I was trying to figure out what the facts were. I was trying to remember. I was trying to remember every time I had seen Ms. Lewinsky.")

Incidentally, Clinton's lawyers' line, as laid out in their somewhat shaky response to the Starr report yesterday, is that when Clinton made these leading and untrue comments to Currie she was "not a witness in any proceeding" and there was no reason for Clinton to think she would become one, hence there's no way Clinton could have been tampering with a witness. As if! Clinton had just been deposed in the Jones suit and been ambushed with a question about having sex with an intern! Are we really supposed to believe Clinton didn't think people close to him were liable to be asked about this under oath?

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--Timothy Noah