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Clinton and Currie: Dysfunction and Guilt

The following material from the Starr report is only a small sample of Betty Currie’s role in the Lewinsky affair. It shows how Clinton acts with those around him and why he is such a great politician. This is a cautionary tale. Don’t take government goodies or you might end up like Betty Currie.

Betty Currie’s general role in the Monica Lewinsky affair:

The President placed the calls himself or, during working hours, had his secretary, Betty Currie, do so.

Later, after she left the White House and started working at the Pentagon, Ms. Lewinsky relied on Ms. Currie to arrange times when she could see the President.

The cover story for those visits was that Ms. Lewinsky was coming to see Ms. Currie, not the President.

In his grand jury testimony, the President acknowledged that he and Ms. Lewinsky "might have talked about what to do in a nonlegal context" to hide their relationship, and that he "might well have said" that Ms. Lewinsky should tell people that she was bringing letters to him or coming to visit Ms. Currie.

Clinton’s recklessness may be a tactic (conscious or unconscious) in drawing others into his guilt:

Ms. Lewinsky testified that she and the President had a sexual encounter during this visit.(177) They kissed, and the President touched Ms. Lewinsky's bare breasts with his hands and mouth.(178) At some point, Ms. Currie approached the door leading to the hallway, which was ajar, and said that the President had a telephone call.

The conscious use of Betty Currie:

In 1997, President Clinton and Ms. Lewinsky had further private meetings, which now were arranged by Betty Currie, the President's secretary.

According to Ms. Currie, Ms. Lewinsky would often call her and say she wanted to see the President, sometimes to discuss a particular topic.(380) Ms. Currie would ask President Clinton, and, if he agreed, arrange the meeting.

Betty Currie’s role in the Lewinsky matter is increased as is her guilt:

When Ms. Lewinsky would arrive at the White House, Ms. Currie generally would be the one to authorize her entry and take her to the West Wing. Ms. Currie acknowledged that she sometimes would come to the White House for the sole purpose of having Ms. Lewinsky admitted and bringing her to see the President.

Secret Service officers and agents took note of Ms. Currie's role. Officer Steven Pape once observed Ms. Currie come to the White House for the duration of Ms. Lewinsky's visit, then leave.

Ms. Lewinsky testified that she once asked the President why Ms. Currie had to clear her in, and why he could not do so himself. "[H]e said because if someone comes to see him, there's a list circulated among the staff members and then everyone would be questioning why I was there to see him."

Ms. Lewinsky also sent over a number of packages -- six or eight, Ms. Currie estimated.(393) According to Ms. Currie, Ms. Lewinsky would call and say she was sending something for the President.(394) The package would arrive addressed to Ms. Currie.

Currie tries to maintain some degree of innocence:

Ms. Currie also testified that she tried to avoid learning details of the relationship between the President and Ms. Lewinsky. On one occasion, Ms. Lewinsky said of herself and the President, "As long as no one saw us -- and no one did -- then nothing happened." Ms. Currie responded: "Don't want to hear it. Don't say any more. I don't want to hear any more."

Currie’s role continues; but we can not imagine her inner feelings about being used as a facilitator of an affair:

Ms. Currie helped keep the relationship secret. When the President wanted to talk with Ms. Lewinsky, Ms. Currie would dial the call herself rather than go through White House operators, who keep logs of presidential calls made through the switchboard.

When Ms. Lewinsky phoned and Ms. Currie put the President on the line, she did not log the call, though the standard procedure was to note all calls, personal and professional.

According to Secret Service uniformed officers, Ms. Currie sometimes tried to persuade them to admit Ms. Lewinsky to the White House compound without making a record of it.

When bringing Ms. Lewinsky in from the White House gate, Ms. Currie said she sometimes chose a path that would reduce the likelihood of being seen by two White House employees who disapproved of Ms. Lewinsky: Stephen Goodin and Nancy Hernreich.

Currie can be counted on to help Clinton conceal his misbehavior. Who else in the White House was so favored?”

In Ms. Lewinsky's evaluation, many White House staff members tried to regulate the President's behavior, but Ms. Currie generally did as he wished.

Currie shows an almost maternal solicitude. I have noticed a strange metaphorical change in this 8 months scandal. The president is often seen as the father figure of the country. As the scandal progresses, Clinton is portrayed more and more as the country’s wayward child:

Ms. Currie (who said she acted on her own initiative) testified that she accompanied the President and Ms. Lewinsky out of the Oval Office because "I didn't want any perceptions, him being alone with someone."

The sexual side of the Clinton-Lewinsky affair ends in May 1997 according to the Starr report. However, the president’s and Currie’s contacts with Lewinsky seem to increase as she hunts for a suitable job. The following material gives no sense of the hours that Currie must have spent on Lewinsky:

June-October 1997: Continuing Meetings and Calls

According to Betty Currie, the President instructed her and Marsha Scott to help Ms. Lewinsky find a White House job

Ms. Currie testified that she resisted the request, because her opinion of Ms. Lewinsky had shifted over time. At first, she testified, she considered Ms. Lewinsky "a friend" who "had been wronged" and had been "maligned improperly."(483) But "[l]ater on, I considered her as a pain in the neck, more or less."(484) The change of heart resulted in part from Ms. Currie's many phone calls in 1997 from Ms. Lewinsky, who was often distraught and sometimes in tears over her inability to get in touch with the President.(485) Deeming her "a little bit pushy," Ms. Currie argued against bringing Ms. Lewinsky back to work at the White House, but the President told her and Ms. Scott, in Ms. Currie's words, "to still pursue her coming back."(486) Indeed, according to Ms. Currie, the President "was pushing us hard" on the matter.(487) To the best of Ms. Currie's recollection, it was the only time the President instructed her to try to get someone a White House job. It’s interesting to not that the President has to “push” two fairly low level employees to secure Lewinsky a job. Did he really want her back? Was he that powerless in the White House? Was Lewinsky so small a threat that she was not given priority?

Clinton claims he did not read Lewinsky’s semi-threatening letter. An interesting tactic:

He then told her that he had not read her July 3 letter beyond the "Dear Sir" line; he surmised that it was threatening because Ms. Currie looked upset when she brought it to him. (Ms. Lewinsky suspected that he actually had read the whole thing.)

Ms. Currie, however, testified that the President instructed her and Ms. Scott to try to get Ms. Lewinsky a job.

Now, having learned that he could not (or would not) get her a White House job, Ms. Lewinsky decided to ask him for a job in New York, perhaps at the United Nations -- a possibility that she had mentioned to him in passing over the summer. On the afternoon of October 6, Ms. Lewinsky spoke of this plan to Ms. Currie, who quoted the President as having said earlier: "Oh, that's no problem. We can place her in the UN like that.

Lewinsky shows greater sensitivity to the potential scandal than Clinton:

Ms. Lewinsky: Well, see, I don't really think -- I'm going to tell him that I don't think Erskine should have anything to do with this. I don't think anybody who works there should.

Ms. Tripp: I don't see how that's -- how that's a problem.

Ms. Lewinsky: Because look at what happened with Webb Hubbell.(609)

Ms. Lewinsky preferred that Vernon Jordan assist her in her job search:

Ms. Tripp: Well, I don't remember during the Webb Hubbell thing, was Vernon mentioned?

Ms. Lewinsky: Yeah, but there's a big difference. I think somebody could construe, okay? Somebody could construe or say, "Well, they gave her a job to shut her up. They made her happy. . . . And he [Mr. Bowles] works for the government and shouldn't have done that." And with the other one [Mr. Jordan] you can't say that.

The long job search still isn’t panning out:

At some point around this time in the fall of 1997, Ms. Currie asked John Podesta, the Deputy Chief of Staff, to help Ms. Lewinsky find a job in New York.

Clinton uses Currie as the fall guy:

In his Jones deposition, the President indicated that he learned of her interview with Ambassador Richardson not from Ms. Lewinsky herself but from Ms. Currie.

A few days before Thanksgiving, she complained to Ms. Currie that she had not heard from Mr. Jordan.(713) Ms. Currie arranged for her to speak with him "before Thanksgiving," while Ms. Lewinsky was in Los Angeles. Mr. Jordan told her to call him the following week to arrange another meeting.

Currie is treated to the fruits of a fully dysfucntional relationship:

When Ms. Currie learned that Ms. Lewinsky was at the Northwest Gate, she sent word that the President "already had a guest in the [O]val," so the officers should have Ms. Lewinsky wait there for about 40 minutes.(736)

While Ms. Lewinsky was waiting, one officer mentioned that Eleanor Mondale was in the White House.(737) Ms. Lewinsky correctly surmised that the President was meeting with Ms. Mondale, rather than his lawyers, and she was "livid."(738) She stormed away, called and berated Ms. Currie from a pay phone, and then returned to her Watergate apartment.(740)

Hands shaking and almost crying, Ms. Currie informed several Secret Service officers that the President was "irate" that someone had disclosed to Ms. Lewinsky whom he was meeting with.(741) Ms. Currie told Sergeant Keith Williams, a supervisory uniformed Secret Service Officer, that if he "didn't find out what was going on, someone could be fired."(742) She also told Captain Jeffrey Purdie, the Secret Service watch commander for the uniformed division at the time, that the President was "so upset he wants somebody fired over this."

Currie is completely enmeshed in the relationship and begins to enmesh others:

According to Sergeant Williams, Ms. Currie said that, if the officers did not "tell a lot of people what had happened, then nothing would happen."

Captain Purdie recommended to his supervisor, Deputy Chief Charles O'Malley, that "no paperwork be generated" regarding the Northwest Gate incident because "Ms. Currie was satisfied with the way things were handled."

Currie becomes important in the cover up:

The President told Ms. Lewinsky to contact Ms. Currie in the event she were subpoenaed.(796) He also reviewed one of their established cover stories. He told Ms. Lewinsky that she "should say she visited the [White House] to see Ms. Currie and, on occasion when working at the [White House], she brought him letters when no one else was around."

Lewinsky shows human feeling concerning Betty Currie:

Later in the conversation, according to Ms. Lewinsky, the President said he would try to get Ms. Currie to come in over the weekend so that Ms. Lewinsky could visit and he could give her several Christmas presents.(800) Ms. Lewinsky replied that, since Ms. Currie's brother had just died, perhaps they should "let Betty be."

Currie becomes involved in obstruction of justice:

Later that day, Ms. Currie drove to Ms. Lewinsky's apartment and collected a box containing some of the subpoenaed gifts. Ms. Currie took the box home and hid it under her bed.

Ms. Currie's testimony was somewhat at odds with Ms. Lewinsky's. Though her overall recollection was hazy, Ms. Currie believed that Ms. Lewinsky had called her and raised the idea of the gifts transfer.(896) Ms. Currie was asked about the President's involvement in the transfer:

Q: And did the President know you were holding these things for Monica?

BC: I don't know. I don't know.

Q: Didn't he say to you that Monica had something for you to hold?

BC: I don't remember that. I don't.

Q: Did you ever talk to the President and tell him you had this box from Monica?

BC: I don't remember that either.

Q: Do you think it happened, though?

BC: I don't know. I don't know.(897)

When asked whether a statement by Ms. Lewinsky indicating that Ms. Currie had in fact spoken to the President about the gift transfer would be false, Ms. Currie replied: "Then she may remember better than I. I don't remember."

Having turned Currie into a criminal, Clinton now demands lies from her:

At approximately 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, January 18, 1998, Ms. Currie met with the President.(1053) The meeting took place at her desk outside the Oval Office. According to Ms. Currie, the President appeared "concerned."(1054) He told Ms. Currie that, during his deposition the previous day, he had been asked questions about Monica Lewinsky.(1055) Ms. Currie testified: "I think he said, 'There are several things you may want to know.'"(1056) He proceeded to make a series of statements,(1057) one right after the other:(1058) * "You were always there when she was there, right?" * "We were never really alone." * "Monica [Lewinsky] came on to me, and I never touched her, right?" * "You can see and hear everything, right?"(1059)

Ms. Currie testified that, based on his demeanor and the way he made the statements, the President wanted her to agree with them.

Ms. Currie testified that she did, in fact, agree with the President when he said, "You were always there when she was there, right?"(1063) Before the grand jury, however, Ms. Currie acknowledged the possibility that Ms. Lewinsky could have visited the President when she was not at the White House.(1064)

With respect to whether the President was "never really alone" with Ms. Lewinsky, Ms. Currie testified that there were several occasions when the President and Ms. Lewinsky were either in the Oval Office or in the study without anyone else present.(1065)

Betty Currie becomes Bill Clinton:

Ms. Currie explained that she did not consider the President and Ms. Lewinsky to be "alone" on such occasions because she was at her desk outside the Oval Office; accordingly, they were all together in the same "general area."(1066) Ms. Currie testified that "the President, for all intents and purposes, is never alone. There's always somebody around him."(1067)

The Radical Libertarian's concslusions from the Starr report.

1. Clinton seems to enjoy getting out of trouble more than he does getting into it. At least he spends more time at it.

2. Betty Currie went through all this and (so far as we know) never received oral sex even once.