Starr takes Lewinsky case to Supreme Court

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THE investigation into Bill Clinton's relationship with Monica Lewinsky went all the way to the Supreme Court yesterday, as key figures were called to give evidence. Kenneth Starr, the Independent Counsel in charge of the probe, asked the Supreme Court to rule as a matter of urgency whether two of Mr Clinton's aides can be made to give testimony. The White House has claimed executive privilege for Bruce Lindsey and Sidney Blumenthal, but a US court decided it did not apply in this case. The White House appealed against the judgement, but yesterday Mr Starr hit back quickly.

"This case is of high moment," he said, asking the court to rule before it goes on holiday on 29 June. He bypassed the appeals court to make the request. He drew a parallel with an appeal over executive privilege to the Supreme Court 24 years ago by an investigator probing the Watergate affair, who wanted access to White House tapes. "As with Nixon, therefore, this case is exceedingly important," he said.

Watergate, however, was about a systematic attempt to conceal illegal campaign activities. What is at stake in this case is neither politics nor the existence of a sexual relationship, but whether or not the President and his closest advisers connived at perjury - to get Ms Lewinsky to lie about her relations with Mr Clinton. Proving that will be a long and complicated business, but the evidence of Mr Lindsey and Mr Blumenthal - close associates of both Mr Clinton and his wife Hillary - will be crucial.

As Mr Starr made his next move, Ms Lewinsky, 24, went to the FBI field office in Los Angeles to give samples of her handwriting and fingerprints. This is likely to be a step towards calling her to appear in front of the grand jury in Washington which will decide whether there is a case against the President.

Her father said that his daughter was just a pawn in a scheme to "get" the President, and launched a savage attack on Mr Starr. "I would like the American people to know that my daughter is a pawn, that Kenneth Starr is trying to use her as a pawn to get the presidency. This is unfair. It is totally unAmerican". She was also accompanied by her lawyer, William Ginsburg, who has also made a savage public attack on Mr Starr in a magazine article.

He also implied that there had, indeed, been a sexual relationship between the two of them. "Congratulations, Mr Starr! As a result of your callous disregard for cherished constitutional rights, you may have succeeded in unmasking a sexual relationship between two consenting adults," he wrote. But he denied that any such implication was intended.

Vernon Jordan, a lawyer and friend of the President's, gave evidence for the fourth time to the grand jury yesterday. He helped Ms Lewinsky find a job after she left government service.