Just A Sex Cover-Up?: High Crimes? Or Just A Sex Cover-Up?

Starr shows all the ways Clinton tried to keep Monica quiet. It's not Watergate

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So Starr tells them. After the initial shock wears off, readers may find the most damaging sections of the report to be not the salacious details that demonstrate Clinton's deceit but rather the staggeringly detailed account of the cover-up effort he directed: a campaign to avoid discovery that, Starr alleges, amounts to abusing the powers of the office to stymie Starr's investigation. Though the outlines of the story have long since been told in press accounts, the report offers scores of damning new details that drive home the truth of a 25-year-old cliche: the cover-up is worse than the crime.

Most accounts have dated Clinton's alleged scheme to buy Lewinsky's silence by finding her a New York job to the fall of 1997, when she was named as a possible witness in the Jones suit. But the report demonstrates that its roots went back much further. By early spring of that year, according to the report, Clinton began focusing on the threat Lewinsky represented, asking her whether she had told her mother, Marcia Lewis, of the affair. Word of the relationship had leaked to Lewis' friend, Walter Kaye, who mentioned it to White House aide Marsha Scott. Not long after that, Lewinsky received an invitation from Betty Currie to visit the President. On Saturday, May 24, Clinton told Lewinsky he wanted to break off the affair. The President noted, she testified, that "he could do a great deal for her."

Three days later, the Supreme Court ruled that the Jones case could proceed during Clinton's term. Soon after that decision, Jones' lawyers announced they would try to find other female subordinates who had been approached sexually by Clinton. That gave him an even stronger motive for helping Lewinsky. The report details a truly extraordinary job search on her behalf, one driven in part by Lewinsky's extortionate demands. Clinton instructed Currie and Scott to find Lewinsky another White House job after she had been exiled to the Pentagon. Currie argued against it because she felt Lewinsky was "a little bit pushy," but Clinton, Currie testified, "was pushing us hard." She said it was the only time he had ever pressed her to find someone a White House job.

When nothing opened for Lewinsky, she vented her frustration in a July 3 letter to Clinton. If she wasn't going to return to the White House, she wrote, she would "need to explain to my parents exactly why that wasn't happening." She then suggested that he help get her a job at the U.N.

The next day he called her back to the Oval Office. The President berated her for threatening him, but the visit ended affectionately, with Clinton saying he wished he had more time for her and suggesting that after his term was up, he "might be alone."

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