Lewinsky expected to tell grand jury Clinton did not urge perjury

 

The crisis engulfing President Bill Clinton enters its final stages today as Ms Monica Lewinsky, the former White House intern with whom he is alleged to have had a sexual relationship, testifies before a grand jury.

Ms Lewinsky (25) was granted immunity from prosecution last week in return for her full testimony, and is expected to confirm that she did have a relationship with the president and that he encouraged her to keep quiet about it. But she is expected to deny that Mr Clinton urged her to lie under oath.

Last year she denied on oath having a relationship with the president, when she was subpoenaed in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case, which collapsed in April.

She is also expected to shed light on the cocktail dress she gave to her mother for safekeeping. The FBI has completed a DNA test on the dress but has refused to release the results.

The independent prosecutor, Mr Kenneth Starr, is believed to be less interested in whether Ms Lewinsky had sex with the president than in whether he is guilty of obstruction of justice in trying to keep it quiet.

Proof of obstruction would help Mr Starr establish a pattern of behaviour stretching back to the Whitewater affair, the failed land deal in Arkansas which is supposed to be the focus of his investigations.

Sources say Mr Starr will be keen to discover precisely how the president might have urged Ms Lewinsky to cover up the affair. A key element in this line of questioning will be the content of her conversations with his private secretary, Ms Betty Currie. Mr Starr will want to know whether Mr Clinton asked Ms Lewinsky to say she was visiting the White House to see Ms Currie, and whether he asked her to return to his secretary the presents he gave her.

Mr Clinton will put his side of the story on August 17th when he testifies to the grand jury through a video link with his lawyers present.

He has made it known through his spokesmen that he intends to stick to his assertion that there was no sexual relationship. Whether he maintains that strategy partly depends on Ms Lewinsky's testimony and the results of the tests on her dress.

Mr Clinton attended to business as usual yesterday, addressing a House Democratic caucus on Capitol Hill.