Ken Starr: Tick, Tock, Tick... ...Talk

All at once, Ken Starr persuades both players in the Lewinsky scandal to come forward and testify. Here, an inside account of how he did it. Are Americans finally about to hear the whole truth?

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But the dance was a slow one. Nothing happened for the first month. Starr's folks were busy talking to other witnesses, in an apparent design to spook Monica into throwing in her lot with Starr. Some Starr allies were wary of Monica's new sharpie dealmakers; they weren't sure how much contact Cacheris had with his old tennis partner Bob Bennett, a Clinton attorney. And so just as Monica had changed her lawyers, Starr needed to change his. He pulled into the case an old Stein colleague, Sam Dash, a fellow member of the small legal freemasonry that had survived the Watergate hearings intact. On Tuesday, July 21, Starr himself called Stein and arranged a meeting for the next day at Dash's house in Chevy Chase, Md.

The hour-long session at 10 the next morning, conducted over bagels and coffee, was more a social gathering than a summit meeting, finally bringing together all four players: Starr and Dash, Cacheris and Stein. No facts of the case were discussed; instead it was a ritual of confidence building. Monica's lawyers told the prosecutors that she was worried that what she had to say wouldn't be enough for them. Starr worried about whether she was credible. It was Dash who proposed that Lewinsky come see them, under the Queen for a Day rules that would shield her from self-incrimination. "The main benefit of the meeting," says Cacheris, "was our being able to tell her they were interested in the truth and them telling us she would be protected." Starr proposed meeting at the apartment of his mother-in-law in New York City, and the curtain was ready to rise.

When Cacheris and Stein arrived at the midtown apartment last Monday morning, they brought along their secret weapon: Cacheris' colleague Sydney Jean Hoffmann, a 46-year-old mother of two with a law degree and a bedside manner. They had realized right away upon taking Monica's case that it was impossible for her to talk over matters of the heart and details so personal with men who were all pushing 70. And so Cacheris turned to Hoffmann to become Monica's handler. Hoffmann was a natural; not only did she and Monica have rapport, but she was also a former Assistant U.S. Attorney who could relate to Starr's team.

The meeting began at 10:15; Cacheris looked at his watch and announced, "We're going to be on the 2 o'clock shuttle [back to Washington]," cracking everyone up. Eager to put Monica at ease, the lawyers had Hoffmann gently guide her through her story as though they were in court. The account was straightforward, dispassionate, designed to be impressive, a preview of what she would be like in the grand jury. That took about 35 minutes. Then Starr's three lawyers took turns asking questions. "It was a real dance," a Starr official said. "We were very concerned how she viewed us. We had to make sure she felt comfortable with us and that we felt comfortable with her."

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