The tie that binds Monica to Bill

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The Independent Online
TO "THAT DRESS" must be added "that tie". According to reports in Washington, on the day Monica Lewinsky testified to the grand jury for the first time, Bill Clinton expressed solidarity by wearing a tie she had given him.

The day was 6 August, (Hiroshima Day, as it happened); the place the White House Rose Garden, the occasion a presidential speech on gun control. In the presence of anti-gun campaigners and victims of shootings.

And the tie? It was a jazzy gold and dark blue diamond-patterned number. It was unusual for Mr Clinton to wear so vivid a tie for so sombre an occasion; his taste - as President, at least - has tended to the reserved: dark blue, dark red, small patterns undisturbing to the ubiquitous television cameras. That Thursday's tie was different and, a New York Times reporter said it sent "a jolt" through certain lawyers around Washington.

To Mr Clinton's lawyers it meant at least one gift subject to subpoena as evidence in the independent prosecutor's inquiry had not been surrendered. To Kenneth Starr and his team, it aroused suspicions that Mr Clinton might have found a novel way to send a last desperate (and illegal) signal to Ms Lewinsky before her testimony. To Ms Lewinsky's lawyers it meant the "affair" might still not be over.

For this was a tie believed to be among the half-dozen or so given to the President by Monica.

And while it might have been pure chance that led Mr Clinton or his White House valet to pick it out that day, less innocent explanations abound. Ties, supposedly, were the lovers' secret token of solidarity.

Accepting that she would not see Mr Clinton every day, Ms Lewinsky reportedly asked him to wear "her" tie so that "when I see you wearing this tie I'll know that I am close to your heart".

The message, if there was one, was lost on Ms Lewinsky: she would have seen "her" tie only after she returned from the courthouse that evening, when her testimony against Mr Clinton was complete.

"That tie" reportedly provided one of the few light moments in Mr Clinton's grim confrontation with prosecutors on Monday. Presented with a photograph of himself in the Rose Garden and asked about the tie, Mr Clinton is said to have professed amused bafflement, and the questioning passed on.