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Weighing The Risk To Clinton

President Clinton is taking a risk in volunteering to answer questions before the grand jury, a criminal defense lawyer told CBS 'This Morning' Co-Anchor Mark McEwen.

Nancy Luque, who also is a former prosecutor, said, "Usually, a target never testifies in a grand jury. I would have counseled him not to testify."

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Both Luque and Barbara Olsen, a former federal prosecutor and Republican Congressional investigator, agree that the president needs to separate the politics from the legalities when he testifies before the grand jury convened by special prosecutor Kenneth Starr.

"It may be true that the American people want to hear from the president,"Luque said, " but I don't think that should be done in the context of a grand jury with Mr. Starr questioning the president. I think those are very different calculations."

Although it may be politically damaging, Olsen said, the president "needs to go before this grand jury and tell the complete truth and not try to edge it or play cute with the words, because I don't think that's going to play with the grand jury, especially since they have a long period of investigation of the president into many different allegations."


Nancy Luque
Luque said she also would counsel the president to refuse to give intimate details of any sexual affair he may have had.

"I think the president should do what no one has been able to do in months and months, and that's to put Mr. Starr in his place, " she said. "He's behaving like no prosecutor I've ever seen. He has done things like no prosecutor I have had any experience with has ever done. The American people would be behind Mr. Clinton if he went to the grand jury and drew a line in the sand and said, 'Beyond this, I'm not going to go.' And that means into sex."


Barbara Olsen
Olsen disagreed about Starr, saying, "He has a mandate. The attorney general gave him the scope to look into obstruction of justice, and that's what he is doing."

The two ex-prosecutors agreed that one of the riskiest questions the president faces - and one that is almost sure to be asked - is whether he told Monica Lewinsky to turn the gifts he gave her over to his secretary Betty Currie.

"That is something he's going to be aked about," said Olsen, "because if he suggested that the gifts be returned when he knew they were being subpoenaed or under subpoena that's a very serious charge. He's an attorney. As a matter of fact, he prides himself on being a constitutional expert. He knows the ramifications of that."

One advantage the president has, the two agreed, is that, because he is appearing before the jury voluntarily, he can answer any question he wants and not answer any question he wants.

While refusing to answer may not be politically correct, it may be in his best legal interests, the two lawyers agreed.