The message that Mr Clinton was standing by his previous policy of non- disclosure was reinforced by the mid-morning announcement that the White House was taking to the Supreme Court a secondary case it lost at appeal last week. The appeal court had ruled that Bruce Lindsey, deputy White House counsel and a close associate of the President, must tell the investigation what he knows about the relationship between Mr Clinton and Ms Lewinsky.
Lawyers had argued on Mr Lindsey's behalf that any conversations he had had with the President on the subject were covered by lawyer-client privilege and need not be divulged. The court ruled, however, that as a White House lawyer paid by the taxpayer, Mr Lindsey's conversations with Mr Clinton were not privileged. That status was reserved for exchanges between Mr Clinton and his personal lawyer - in this case, David Kendall.
The White House has recently lost a series of appeals against orders for White House staff to testify in the Lewinsky case. Its most recent loss was a summary judgment from the Supreme Court that Secret Service agents attached to the White House, including Mr Clinton's chief bodyguard, must testify.
The White House had argued that the safety of this and future presidents could be jeopardised if presidents were led to treat their guards as potential snoops.
Legal experts forecast the Supreme Court would also find against the White House in this case, though it was noted that the appeal court judges in the Bruce Lindsey case were not unanimous. Observers were divided about whether the further appeal was merely a delaying tactic, a last-ditch attempt to keep certain information from the investigation, or a genuine attempt to clarify the obligations of a White House counsel.
As this secondary judicial process rumbled on, speculation mounted about exactly when Ms Lewinsky would appear before the grand jury. She reached agreement with the prosecutor's office last week and now enjoys full immunity from prosecution, even if - as expected - she retracts her sworn denial of an affair with the President.
The White House, meanwhile, was concerned to quash the idea that weekend calls for Mr Clinton to "tell all" were kite-flying by the White House, designed to gauge the likely public reaction. If there was any such intention, the White House might have been taken aback by the result. Mainstream opinion polls continued to show almost two-thirds of those asked saying they believe Mr Clinton had a sexual relationship with Ms Lewinsky, but do not care about it.
A similar question posed to a self-selected audience in different terms brought a very different result. A television and Internet poll for the cable station, MSNBC, asked what should happen if Mr Clinton committed perjury. An overwhelming 80 per cent said: throw him out, compared with only 16 per cent who said forgive and forget.
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