Friday, Jan. 09, 2009

Betty Currie

Then: As President Clinton's personal secretary, Currie was well-liked, mild-mannered and soft-spoken — in short, one of the least likely people in the West Wing to become entangled in a political tempest. But Clinton's critics accused her of being an enabler for the President's affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky — reportedly leaving the pair alone together for the infamous tryst detailed in the Independent Counsel's report.

One of just four people called to testify during the impeachment trial, Currie said under oath that she knew Clinton and Lewinsky had a closer than normal relationship, but when the intern confided in her, she stopped her and said she wanted to know no more. It eventually came out that she had arranged some of the meetings between the two, and even delivered gifts from Clinton to Lewinsky. When news of the scandal broke, she went to Lewinsky's apartment to take the gifts back, although she later testified that it was done at Lewinsky's request, not Clinton's.

Now: After Clinton's acquittal, Currie assumed a low profile and deliberately remained out of the media spotlight. TIME tried repeatedly to catch up with her, but she did not respond to requests for an interview.

However, presidential historian Barry Landau, a friend of Currie's, said she has managed to resume a stable private life in spite of the tumult of the trial. She has remained active in grass roots Democratic politics.

"A lot of people, when they've worked for the president don't want to get involved on the local level, but not her," Landau said.

Currie now lives in Maryland with her husband Bob and does double duty, serving on the Alcohol and Beverage Board of St. Mary's County as well as making an early morning commute to Washington six days a week to work on President-Elect Barack Obama's transition team.

She has also adopted another former White House resident: the Clintons' cat, Socks, who has reportedly taken ill recently.

Landau said he does not know if Currie will become a permanent part of Obama's staff, "but anyone would be lucky to have her."