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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All the debate inside the White House about whether Clinton should testify was tightly limited to six lawyers: Kendall, Ruff, Bennett, associate counsel Cheryl Mills, Kendall's colleague Nicole Seligman and Mickey Kantor. Each morning the inner circle met by conference call, with out-of-body participation by Kantor, calling in from Hong Kong. The instincts of Kendall had always been for Clinton to say as little as possible for as long as possible. None of the more political-minded advisers, such as Kantor and Bennett, could overcome Kendall's doctrine that no news was good news. Kendall often said little during calls but typically weighed in privately afterward with the First Lady.

If Kendall was toying with the idea of quashing the subpoena, White House aides could have been on the Hill shopping the idea around. But when Democrats first heard about the subpoena from press reports over the weekend, all the people who counted went public in favor of the safest option: testifying. Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Orrin Hatch declared that defying a subpoena would be grounds for impeachment, and various congressional Democrats were adamant that Clinton had to talk. By Monday, with only a day left, with everyone on the record calling for Clinton to testify and no room left to maneuver, Kendall made his first real counterproposal to Starr.

While Kendall was preoccupied with limiting Clinton's legal exposure, the President had one eye on history. He had no desire to set a precedent as the first President to go before a grand jury to give personal testimony in a criminal investigation. Any such testimony could be especially dangerous if he and his advisers do not know what else Starr knows. Although the Justice Department has debriefed the Secret Service agents about their testimony, and Kendall gets reports from other witnesses' lawyers as part of a joint defense agreement, the White House has not heard Linda Tripp's tapes of her phone conversations, nor what Tripp told the grand jury. More important, they did not know last week of the budding romance between Lewinsky's lawyers and Starr.

On Monday, even as Monica and Starr's team were meeting in New York, a federal appeals court dealt the White House yet another blow; it ruled that Lindsey's testimony was not shielded by attorney-client privilege, since Lindsey was not actually Clinton's lawyer but paid by the taxpayers. A government lawyer's duty, the judges wrote, "is not to defend clients against criminal charges and it is not to protect wrongdoers from public exposure." It has long been believed that if anyone close to Clinton shares his deepest, darkest secrets, it's Lindsey. The prospect of his testimony meant that Starr had finally breached the President's inner sanctum.

By this time all anyone at the White House could do was just hang on for the ride. Stein and Cacheris met with Starr Tuesday morning, inked the full-immunity deal with Starr's signature at the bottom and with his permission announced it in a spectacular, one-sentence, curbside press appearance. While Clinton attended a memorial service on Capitol Hill for the slain officers, spokesman Mike McCurry was left to put the word out on how pleased the President was "that things are working out" for Monica, as though that bouquet would be sufficient to keep her on the President's team.

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