Clinton accused: Lewinsky: in anguish

Click to follow
At the Pacific Hills High School in Beverly Hills, the Los Angeles enclave favoured by the wealthy and famous, teachers were especially proud of one old-girl, Monica Lewinsky. After three years reading psychology at university in Oregon, she was going on to the White House as an intern.

This was 1995, and it was a rare break for Monica, known at the school as beautiful and intelligent. "A nice young lady," said her former headmaster this week. There had been about 1,500 applicants for only 250 internships. More than that, she had landed a spot in the office of the Chief of Staff, Leon Panetta, along the corridor from the President himself.

Once in the White House, Ms Lewinsky, then 21, allegedly became consumed by an infatuation that was unimaginably dangerous. The object of her desire: the President. Fantasy became reality after a White House social event. Ms Lewinsky wore her most alluring dress and caught the boss's eye.

Co-workers apparently describe Ms Lewinsky as someone who became overly preoccupied with attending all possible public events in the White House compound. In hindsight, the reason seems obvious; she wanted to gain proximity to President Clinton whenever she could.

Apparently aware of the awful risk she was running in her relationship with the President, Ms Lewinsky seemingly settled on a co-worker in the White House as a confidante and sounding board. She was a woman twice her age and someone with longer experience in the thin air of executive power, Linda Tripp. First hired by the Bush administration, Ms Tripp was, like Ms Lewinsky, a secretarial assistant.

Fate ensured that Ms Lewinsky and Ms Tripp would stay together. The latter was dispatched to the Pentagon in 1996 after officials branded her a loose cannon and a liability to the President. Last year, Ms Lewinsky found herself transferred to the Pentagon, into the same office as Ms Tripp.

That Ms Lewinsky chose Ms Tripp on whom to unload her anguish may be proving to have been her undoing. For motives that are unclear, Ms Tripp began taping her conversations with Ms Lewinsky about the purported affair and last week co-operated with investigators by wiring herself for another of the conversations.

Ms Lewinsky, who lives in the Watergate complex, seemed until recently to be assured survival. Vernon Jordan, it is alleged, had set up a public affairs job at Revlon, where he is a board member. Revlon, however, announced on Wednesday that "in light of today's events" the offer will be withdrawn.

Her lawyer, William Ginsburg, who will not confirm or deny whether she had an affair with the chief executive, says no matter what happens his client is in a "lose-lose" situation.