If special prosecutor Kenneth Starr sends Congress an impeachment report, it probably will focus narrowly on evidence in the Monica Lewinsky case rather than other aspects of his Whitewater investigation, an ally close to the prosecutor says.
As Starr nears a critical time in the investigation, anticipation is growing in Congress that the prosecutor soon will send a report that would form the basis for possible removal proceedings against President Clinton.
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The Starr ally, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said final decisions have not been made, but such a report would be expected to focus on perjury and obstruction of justice in the Lewinsky case, where prosecutors have the strongest and freshest evidence.
To make such a report under the independent counsel law, Starr must have "substantial and credible" evidence that the president committed a crime.
Other evidence that does not meet that standard but was collected in the four-year probe would be described in a separate report Starr must file with the three-judge appeals court panel that appointed him. The other evidence involves the Clintons' Arkansas real estate venture, their friend Webster Hubbell, the gathering of FBI files and the White House travel office dismissals.
The Starr ally said prosecutors are watching developments with two key witnesses from the earlier aspects of the investigation, Hubbell and Susan McDougal, in case they lead to new cooperation or evidence that could alter current plans.
Lewinsky, a former White House intern, told the grand jury that contrary to the president's sworn denial and her own affidavit in January, she had a sexual relationship with Clinton.
She also told prosecutors she and the president discussed ways to conceal the relationship, including returning gifts she had received from the president to his secretary, legal sources familiar with her testimony said.
One legal source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Lewinsky, 25, has been consistent since she first sought immunity from them in January with details of a sexual relationship with Mr. Clinton. The source said she told of more than one encounter of oral sex with the president inside the White House. "Her account to prosecutors throughout has been consistent," the source said.
Linda Tripp, Lewinsky's former friend whose tape recording of their conversations led to Starr's investigation, turned over to the prosecutor 80 to 100 pages of shorthand transcripts of other, untaped conversations, Time magazine reported. It said the notes recounted Lewinsky's recollections of times, dates, and places of her meetings with Mr. Clinton.
The president broadly denied engaging in sexual activity with Lewinsky during his sworn testimony in Paula Jones' sexual harassment lawsuit. Prosecutors now are investigating whether he committed perjury and also conspired with Lewinsky and others to conceal evidence of the relationship.
While an impeachment report from Starr is likely to focus solely on the Lewinsky case, the Starr ally cautioned that prosecutors are watching developments that could produce fresh evidence in the other aspects of the investigation.
Among them is the current trial in California of McDougal, who is accused of bilking orchestra conductor Zubin Mehta in an unrelated case. The source said Starr's prosecutors want to see whether McDougal, if convicted there, might change her steadfast refusal to testify in the Whitewater investigation.
If not, McDougal still faces another trial on charges of criminal contempt of court for refusing a judge's order to go before a Whitewater grand jury in Arkansas.
The ally indicated developments also were possible with Hubbell, the former associate attorney general who was convicted early in the Whitewater investigation on charges of cheating the Arkansas law firm where he and Hillary Rodham Clinton used to work.
Hubbell agreed to cooperate after pleading guilty to those charges, but he then frustrated investigators with his inability to recall crucial events he was asked about.
Starr's office this year brought a new indictment against Hubbell, accusing him, his wife, and two others of tax evasion. A judge threw out the indictment on the ground that Starr exceeded his authority. But the ally said developments were still possible there as well.
Written by John Solomon