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Showdown Looms With Starr

Lawyers for President Clinton were at a federal courthouse in Washington Thursday morning for what's expected to be a showdown on the issue of executive privilege before the grand jury looking into the president's relationship with Monica Lewinsky.

CBS News White House correspondent Bill Plante reports that White House lawyers are expected to argue that President Clinton should be allowed to assert executive privilege in the grand jury questioning of presidential adviser and confidant Bruce Lindsey. Lindsey was questioned by the Washington panel Wednesday and is due back Thursday.


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Under the aegis of special prosecutor Kenneth Starr, the panel is probing allegations that Mr. Clinton and former Lewinsky, a former White House intern, had an affair and lied about it under oath.

Sources with knowledge of the situation say that prosecutors had begun to ask Lindsey about discussions he held with the president and the president's advisors - information that the White House may claim is privileged.

Lindsey refused to answer any questions about his testimony.

Executive privilege has been invoked periodically to shield presidents and those who work closely with them from having to talk to Congress, courts and grand juries.

Several White House aides already have appeared before the grand Jury. Expected testimony today by Clinton-friend Vernon Jordan has been postponed.

The Washington Post reported Thursday that Jordan was asked to help find a job for Lewinsky three days after lawyers for Paula Jones disclosed they wanted to question her about whether she had an affair with President Clinton. Jones is suing Mr. Clinton for sexual harassment.

Quoting an unidentified source familiar with the matter, the newspaper says Mr. Clinton's secretary called Jordan on Dec. 8, 1997. According to the report, the call led to four meetings and seven phone conversations in one month between Jordan and Lewinsky.

In other developments:

  • Lewinsky's mother, Marcia Lewis, was also scheduled to appear before the grand jury on Wednesday, but sent her attorney instead. He told the judge that his client was still unsettled by her appearance last week. She was emotionally overwhelmed and distraught, according to her attorney, but she remains under subpoena.
  • President Clinton's approval rating is back up to 73 percent, according to a new CBS News Poll. By a 2-1 margin, Americans said the public had no need to know the details of the relationship between Lewinsky and the president. And by a 3-1 margin, Americans said they didn't want to know.
  • he Washington Post reported that the grand jury has issued a subpoena to Kathleen Willey. Willey is a former volunteer White House aide who reportedly has said in a deposition in the Jones case that Clinton groped her when she went to his office in November 1993 seeking a full-time job.

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