A thinner Monica is back in town

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The Independent Online
MONICA LEWINSKY, the young woman whose thong-exposure three years ago landed the President of the United States in so much hot water, was back in Washington DC yesterday, holed up in the rococo Mayflower Hotel just three blocks from the White House.

As though the calendar had simply been turned back a year, she was preparing once again to meet a flock of lawyers: her own, and members of the office of the independent prosecutor, Kenneth Starr.

Ms Lewinsky, looking pale and a little thinner than before, had flown back to Washington from Los Angeles on Saturday afternoon after a four- month absence, during which she had - mostly successfully - tried to elude the media spotlight.

In that time, she has negotiated a million-dollar book deal and two television interviews,neither of which may be conducted until the trial of the President is over.

While the fee arrangements have not been fully disclosed, the money will go only part of the way towards meeting Ms Lewinsky's legal expenses, which already amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars. She is also reported to have started doing charity work with children, in preparation for a new, post-glamour life.

For her return to Washington, Ms Lewinsky - dubbed "the face that launched a thousand quips" - had exchanged the pert beret of her presidential embraces for a sombre baseball cap, pulled down low over her eyes.

This half-hearted modesty, though, did nothing to cool media excitement, and having evaded the cameras at Dulles airport, where she was whisked directly from the plane into a waiting car, she was mobbed on arrival at her hotel, and it took all the considerable resources of the Mayflower security to usher her safely to her room.