Whatever Monica Lewinsky bought at one Washington bookstore is irrelevant to the investigation of any relationship with President Clinton, a federal judge has ruled.
The store, Barnes & Noble, will not be forced to turn over records sought by Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, U.S. District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson wrote in a court order made public on Friday.
"The court finds that none of the material submitted by Barnes & Noble falls within the zone of compelling interest," of Starr's investigation, the judge wrote in the May 22 order.
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Starr is investigating allegations that Clinton had a sexual relationship with the former White House intern and then, along with others, tried to cover it up.
He argued he needed Lewinsky's purchase records from two Washington bookstores because Clinton testified in the Paula Jones lawsuit that Lewinsky gave him "a book or two." Starr is still seeking records from the other store, Kramerbooks, which is fighting his subpoena.
According to sources familiar with Starr's investigation, prosecutors are trying to determine if Lewinsky's purchases included Nicholson Baker's steamy novel about phone sex, "Vox." Lewinsky received a copy of poet Walt Whitman's classic book "Leaves of Grass" from Clinton.
Both stores resisted Starr's original request for documents related to Lewinsky dating to November 1995. The newly unsealed documents show that after the judge narrowed Starr's request, both stores turned over the records to her.
The judge then reviewed the records privately and ruled that Starr may not have the Barnes & Noble material, said Austin Campriello, a lawyer for the 1,000-store chain.
"In her view ... there was no compelling need," for Starr to see the material, Campriello said. "So, in essence, we won."