Lewinsky quizzed at hotel in new twist to trial

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The Independent Online
THE KEY witness in the trial of President Clinton was back in the political maelstrom of Washington yesterday, only to find herself at the centre of a new dispute. Monica Lewinsky, summoned for questioning by a court order on Saturday, spent two hours with members of the House of Representatives prosecution team in a meeting that looked set to divide the Senate still further and perhaps draw out the President's trial.

The three prosecutors said she would make a useful witness, while her lawyers said any more testimony from her was unnecessary. For the prosecutors, Bill McCollum praised the meeting as "productive and constructive" and said Ms Lewinsky was an "impressive young woman" who "might be a very helpful witness".

But when her lead lawyer, Plato Cacheris, emerged, he sought to discourage any thought of a Senate appearance - aligning his client with the White House. It was unnecessary to call her, because "all her testimony is fully disclosed".

The meeting, attended also by two members of the office of the independent prosecutor, Kenneth Starr, was at the Mayflower Hotel, three blocks from the White House.

Ms Lewinsky's return to Washington, following a judge's ruling that she should submit to the House prosecutors' questions, reignited argument among senators about whether she should be called to testify, and threatened turmoil today when the trial recommences.

Her reappearance was one of a set of repetitions and coincidences that left a sense of history repeating itself. There was Ms Lewinsky, in a glitzy Washington hotel, just as she had been a year before after being apprehended by the FBI, retelling again the story of her romance with the President.

The Pope was in Central America, as he was a year ago, and his visit was again eclipsed by a woman called Monica.

Even the President found he could escape Washington but not his past. On a visit to Arkansas to commiserate with victims of last week's tornadoes, who should be in the crowd in the town of Beebe but Paula Jones, whose sexual harassment suit began the whole impeachment saga. Just visiting friends, she told reporters who recognised her.

Lewinsky's return, page 9