Watch CBSN Live

Jordan Testimony Seen Crucial

The White House says it has no doubt: Vernon Jordan's testimony will help President Clinton.

The president's long-time friend went before a grand jury in Washington Tuesday to begin answering questions about the president's relationship with Monica Lewinsky. He said nothing to the large crowd of reporters outside the courthouse.

Click here for our
Special Report
Nor did he speak to reporters when he left his home with police escort Tuesday morning

At the White House, Press Secretary Mike McCurry was asked if he thinks Jordan will tell the truth. He replied, "I know it,'' he replied. And as for whether the truth will help the president, McCurry declared, Absolutely.''

Jordan's testimony is expected to bring the special prosecutor's investigation of President Clinton to a new and critical phase.

Special prosecutor Kenneth Starr needs to determine whether the job offer Jordan arranged for former White House intern Monica Lewinsky, was in exchange for her silence about a sexual relationship with the president.

CBS News White House correspondent Bill Plante reports that Jordan's testimony is the key to any charges of witness tampering or obstruction of justice against the president. because Starr has alleged that Jordan was the vehicle for such efforts.

Jordan's contacts with Lewinsky included four meetings, a ride in a chauffeur-driven car and approximately 10 phone calls, ending the second week of January.

Plante reports that Jordan's friends have been knocking down reports that Jordan will seek immunity or will invoke his Fifth Amendment right not to testify. They say he will go in there, answer all the questions and tell the truth, Plante reports.

McCurry saidearlier that the relationship between Jordan and the president been strained in any way.

"They are very good friends, remain very good friends -I think they look forward to the day when they can be less circumspect with each other," he said.

Jordan, who works at a prominent law firm in Washington and sits on a number of corporate boards of directors, was to have been questioned twice previously in the Lewinsky investigation. Both sessions were canceled. The first was to have been an interview with FBI agents. The second was a grand jury appearance that was put off two weeks ago.

Jordan has been under scrutiny in another part of Starr's probe
for providing a job for longtime Clinton friend Webster Hubbell. Jordan helped Hubbell find work at MacAndrews & Forbes, which owns Revlon, where Jordan assisted Lewinsky in getting a job offer. The job offer was rescinded when the Lewinsky controversy erupted n January.

It has been nearly six weeks since Jordan made his only public statement on the Lewinsky investigation, saying he would answer grand jury's questions "directly, completely and truthfully.''

In other developments:

  • Lewinsky's lawyer says he believes his client was alone a couple of times with President Clinton in the Oval Office. "Being alone doesn't mean they had a relationship,'' said William Ginsburg.. He described her visits to the White House after she left for a job at the Pentagon in 1996 as mostly work-related and said she saw people other than Clinton. There were a couple of times she was briefly alone with the president. Ginsburg said, but there was neither enough time nor enough privacy for any "salacious event" to occur.
  • Democrats critical of Starr kept the pressure on today. Robert Weiner, spokesman for Clinton's drug policy office, and his wife asked Starr to apologize for calling Weiner to testify before the grand jury Jan. 30. Starr's prosecutors wanted to know whether the White House asked Weiner to call a local Democratic group that had requested Maryland authorities to investigate tape recordings of Lewinsky's phone conversations. Weiner said he merely had called friends at the Democratic Club to offer his congratulations for their effort. Starr's actions showed his investigation was a "hate hearing against the president at any cost to the taxpayer and to individual rights,''

©1998 CBS Worldwide Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report