Willey Caught In Crossfire

Kathleen Willey's credibility was caught in a new crossfire Wednesday as a publisher and a former friend took aim at her allegation about a sexual advance by President Clinton.
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California publisher Michael Viner went on television to assert that Willey's account last Sunday night on 60 Minutes was "a different story" from the one given by her lawyer when they discussed a possible six-figure book deal over the last two months.

Across the country, the Washington lawyer for Julie Hiatt Steele released a sworn affidavit in which her client says Willey asked her to lie about the encounter with Clinton.

Steele's affidavit said she never heard of the 1993 encounter between Clinton and Willey until her friend called her in 1997 and asked her to tell a reporter that Willey had confided the entire episode to her right after it happened.

"Mrs. Willey also asked me to describe her demeanor at the time as `upset, humiliated, disappointed and harassed," Steele said in the affidavit.

Steele said that Willey asked to to lie because she was concerned that former White House staffer Linda Tripp "would not support" Willey's version of events. Steele said she later told the reporter she had lied at Willey's request.

Tripp, whose secret tape recordings prompted the Monica Lewinsky investigation, also claims to have witnessed Willey emerging from the Oval Office, appearing ruffled but happy, after the alleged November 29, 1993 incident with Clinton.

Willey has stated in both a deposition and a TV interview that Clinton made a crude sexual advance that she rebuffed. Her attorney, Dan Gecker, did not immediately return a call to his home.

Steele's account has generally been known for several weeks, but the sudden release of her affidavit was the latest development in a White House-inspired campaign attacking Willey's credibility after her 60 Minutes appearance.

Viner told ABC's Good Morning America that Willey was portrayed by her attorney during book discussions as "someone who was reluctantly and against her will involved in these problems, and someone who was still a fan, a friend, and cared about President Clinton."

In contrast, on the 60 Minutes show, Willey was "someone who felt terribly wronged," said Viner, president of New Millennium Entertainment, a California-based publishing house.

"There seemed to have been a change or evolution ... of Mrs. Willey ...," Viner said. She was "a different person with a different story than the portrait that has been painted for me during the lst couple of months."

He said discussions with Willey's lawyer involved the figure $300,000, "the number that they asked for that they needed for various reasons."

"I think she had a chapter, she didn't have a book," Viner said of why the book deal never went anywhere.

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