Monica Lewinsky visited the White House about three dozen times after leaving her low-level job there to work at the Pentagon in 1996, and she was usually cleared for entry by the president's personal secretary, said officials who have either seen or been briefed about White House visitation logs.
The frequency of Lewinsky's visits had not been previously disclosed. Officials at the Pentagon said Monday that the trips were not related to her job at the press office there.Lewinsky's White House visits are a crucial piece of information as independent counsel Kenneth Starr investigates accusations that President Clinton had a sexual relationship with Lewinsky and then encouraged her to lie about it. Clinton has strongly denied having had a sexual relationship with Lewinsky, and he has said he never asked anyone to lie.
Officials familiar with the White House logs did not describe Lewinsky's ultimate destination in the White House or the purpose of her visits, including whether she saw the president.
One official said the records indicated that Lewinsky was given clearance to enter the White House on 37 occasions from April 1996 to December 1997. The New York Times has reported that her last visit to the White House, now under scrutiny by investigators, occurred Dec. 28, 11 days after she had been subpoenaed to testify in the Paula Jones sexual misconduct lawsuit against the president.
Lewinsky is claiming that during that visit the president told her that she could testify in Jones' lawsuit that her visits to him at the White House were to see his secretary, Betty Currie, said an associate of Lewinsky and others who know her version of events.
Currie's desk is just outside the Oval Office, and Currie acts as Clinton's gatekeeper, admitting or deflecting visitors and screening telephone calls. She appeared before Starr's federal grand jury last Tuesday.
Former White House aide George Stephanopoulos was called to U.S. District Court Tuesday to appear before the grand jury.
In his previous role as one of Clinton's most trusted lieutenants, Stephanopoulos worked in the West Wing just outside the Oval Office.
"I met her, sure," he said of Lewinsky during an appearance on CNN's "Larry King Live" program Monday. "I would see her in the hallway; she would hang out at the Starbucks by my house."
In his current capacity as political commentator for ABC News, Stephanopoulos has been blunt in his assessment of the charges facing his former boss.
"If they're true, they're not only politically damaging but it could lead to impeachment proceedings," he said after the story broke on Jan. 21.
A White House spokesman refused to confirm or deny the specific number of visits Lewinsky made to the White House after moving to the Pentagon in April 1996.
But one senior White House official, who had been briefed on Lewinsky's visits, said the estimate of three dozen "sounds about right."
Lewinsky was transferred out of the White House after Evelyn Lieberman, a deputy chief of staff, complained that she was spending too much time at public events, like Rose Garden ceremonies, where Clinton had officiated, an aide has said.
For at least part of the time that Lewinsky worked at the Pentagon, her access to the White House was restricted, but she somehow managed to get around the restrictions, officials have said.
Meanwhile, Lewinsky prepared to leave Washington Tuesday for California. "We're going to leave. It is a quiet time next week," attorney William Ginsburg said in a telephone interview from Dulles International Airport in suburban Washington, where he and his client were waiting for a flight to Los Angeles.
Clinton to meet Blair
White House press secretary Mike McCurry anticipates the president will "reiterate what he's already told you" if he is questioned about Monica Lewinsky at his Friday news conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
President Clinton and Blair are expected to discuss the showdown with Iraq, peace in Bosnia, the Middle East, Northern Ireland, the expansion of NATO and issues between the United States and European Union later this week.
"That will be a lot of work," McCurry said Monday. "And the president understands that they probably won't be the subject that any of you ask him anything about - and that's just life."