The Starr Report: 2: The Gifts they exchanged

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The Independent Online
MONICA LEWINSKY and the President exchanged numerous gifts. By her estimate, she gave him about 30 items, and he gave her about 18.

Ms. Lewinsky's first gift to him was a poem given by her and other White House interns to commemorate "National Boss Day" on 24 October 1995. This was the only item reflected in White House records that Ms. Lewinsky (said she) gave the President before the sexual relationship began, and the only item that he sent to the archives instead of keeping.

On November 20 - five days after the intimate relationship began, according to Ms. Lewinsky - she gave him a necktie, which he chose to keep, rather than send to the archives. She said the President phoned the night she gave him the tie, then sent her a photo of himself wearing it. The tie was logged pursuant to White House procedures for gifts to the President.

In a draft note to the President in December 1997, Ms. Lewinsky wrote that she was "very particular about presents and could never give them to anyone else - they were all bought with you in mind."

Many of the 30 or so gifts that she gave the President reflected his interests in history, antiques, cigars, and frogs.

Ms. Lewinsky gave him, among other things, six neckties, an antique paperweight showing the White House, a silver table-top holder for cigars or cigarettes, a pair of sunglasses, a casual shirt, a mug emblazoned "Santa Monica," a frog figurine, a letter opener depicting a frog, several novels, a humourous book of quotations, and several antique books.

He gave her, among other things, a hat pin, two brooches, a blanket, a marble bear figurine, and a special edition of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass.

Ms. Lewinsky construed it as a sign of affection when the President wore a necktie or other item of clothing she had given him. She testified, saying: "I used to say to him, 'I like it when you wear my ties because then I know I'm close to your heart'."

The President was aware of her reaction, said Ms. Lewinsky, and he would sometimes wear one of the items to reassure her - occasionally on the day they were scheduled to meet or the day after they had met in person or talked by phone. The President would sometimes say to her, "Did you see I wore your tie the other day?"

In his grand jury testimony, the President acknowledged he had exchanged a number of gifts with Ms. Lewinsky. After their intimate relationship ended in 1997, he testified: "(S)he continued to give me gifts. And I felt that it was a right thing to do to give her gifts back."