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Questions that Deserve an Answer

By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.

With their "don't ask, don't tell" strategy firmly in place, the White House has refused to answer any questions involving the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Clearly, Clinton officials are stonewalling, insisting that the President's lawyers are still assembling information. The scenario is all too reminiscent of the kinds of tactics that this administration has used so frequently in the past to delay an investigation or elude accountability. It will work effectively once again if members of the press neglect their duty to obtain answers to the many questions that the White House so resolutely seeks to avoid.

Questions swirling about this particular scandal involve the access, assistance and attention given to Monica Lewinsky, as well as the suspicious timing of what can only be called extraordinary occurrences.

BACKGROUND: In June of 1995, Ms. Lewinsky joined approximately one thousand other voluntary interns at the White House. Very few interns ever obtain access to the President. Monica Lewinsky became an intern for President Clinton's Chief of Staff, Leon Pannetta.

Question #1 How was Monica Lewinsky selected for this position?

BACKGROUND: In November 1995, Ms. Lewinsky's internship expired. The following month she began a paid position in the White House Office of Legislative Affairs and handled correspondence from members of Congress. The job required occasional deliveries to the Oval Office. It is rare for a summer intern to be offered a salaried position. It is even more rare that a job would involve contact with the President.

Question #2 Why was Monica Lewinsky offered this rare position involving presidential contact, particularly with subsequent reports of her poor job performance?

BACKGROUND: In April 1996, Ms. Lewinsky was hired by Kenneth Bacon, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, as his confidential assistant. She then began a new, thirty-one thousand dollar a year job at the Pentagon. According to the President's former Deputy Chief of Staff, Evelyn Lieberman, the former intern was removed from the White House because she engaged in "inappropriate and immature behavior."

Question #3 Why did the White House send a recommendation list for this confidential Pentagon position with only one name included( Monica Lewinsky, despite her "inappropriate and immature behavior"?

BACKGROUND: In October 1997, Ms. Lewinsky was offered a job at the United Nations. Rather than being interviewed by a personnel assistant or official, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Bill Richardson, met with her
personally over breakfast.

Question #4 Why would the Ambassador to the UN deem it necessary to meet with a low level government employee to conduct a job interview?

BACKGROUND: It is reported that in November of 1997, Monica Lewinsky met with Clinton confidant, Vernon Jordan,
where he arranged to provide her with an attorney.

Question #5 Why would a high powered individual like Vernon Jordan meet with an ex-intern and assist her in finding a lawyer?

BACKGROUND: Events began to accelerate in December of 1997. Monica Lewinsky received a subpoena on December 17 from lawyers seeking evidence on behalf of Paula Jones in her sexual harassment case against President Clinton. It is reported that Ms. Lewinsky telephoned the President in Bosnia five days later on December 22.

Question #6 How could Monica Lewinsky have the ability to contact the President of the United States overseas?

Question #7 Did the conversation between them concern a recently received subpoena?

BACKGROUND: Jordan had commenced efforts to assist Monica Lewinsky in obtaining a job in New York. On December 23, American Express rejected her as a candidate for a Jordan arranged position. On December 26, Ms. Lewinsky left her position at the Pentagon.

Question #8 Why would Monica Lewinsky leave her job at the Pentagon before obtaining a new position?

Question #9 Had Monica Lewinsky been given assurances by Vernon Jordan that he would find her new employment?

BACKGROUND: It has been reported that Monica Lewinsky had been granted clearance to the White House on 37 occasions after moving from her position at the White House to the Pentagon. It has also been reported that she met with President Clinton at the White House on December 28.

Question # 10 Why was Ms. Lewinsky granted this unusual number of clearances, particularly the suspiciously timed clearance that resulted in the meeting of December 28?

BACKGROUND: On January 7, Monica Lewinsky signed the affidavit for the Paula Jones case but did not file it in court. The next day she attended a job interview at Revlon, which was arranged by Vernon Jordan, a member of the Board of Directors of Revlon. Jordan has admitted arranging this and two other job interviews. Five days later on January 13, Revlon offered Ms. Lewinsky a job paying $40,000 a year. On the same day, Ms. Lewinsky told Linda Tripp that she would not file the affidavit until she got the job. On January 15, the "talking points" document was given to Ms. Tripp. On January 16, three days after Ms. Lewinsky was offered the job at Revlon, she filed her affidavit for the Paula Jones case. Ironically, it states that the President did not offer her a job in exchange for her testimony.

Question #11 Why would Vernon Jordan be acting as an employment agent for an ex-intern?

Question #12 Did Vernon Jordan give job placement services to Monica Lewinsky in exchange for her cooperation?

As long as the public
remains steadfastly aware of the lack of response to these questions from the White House, this scandal will not fade away. The only way the answers will emerge in a timely manner is if the press is unremitting in their pursuit for the truth. We, too, must be relentless in our demands that the press not shrink from this fundamental and crucial responsibility.

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James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.

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