Secretary who stood by Clinton signs up for the Obama team

Aide who helped affair with Lewinsky offers her services
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The Independent US

Betty Currie, the loyal church-going secretary to former president Bill Clinton, who worked weekends just to sneak Monica Lewinsky into the Oval Office, is once again guarding the door of presidential power.

This time she is handling the calls for Barack Obama's point man in Washington DC, John Podesta, as he runs the President-elect's busy transition team. As Mr Clinton's loyal secretary, Ms Currie, now 69, facilitated the Lewinsky affair, which cast such a cloud over his presidency. She then spilled the beans about it to a grand jury allowing impeachment charges to proceed.

Ms Currie recently came out of retirement to volunteer for the Obama transition team. She was immediately snapped up by Mr Podesta, who knew her from his days as chief of staff at the Clinton White House. "Of course I asked her because in the 30 years we have worked together, I have never known anyone with more grace, dedication and public spirit than Betty," he told The New York Times. "And she has one mean Rolodex."

Ms Currie, who was probably the most powerful secretary in the nation, became a household name for her riveting testimony about the affair which became woven into the impeachment charges filed against Mr Clinton, and served for all eight years of his presidency. Obama aides say she is not expected to return to her old White House perch outside the Oval Office after the inauguration of the country's first black president.

Ms Currie is the latest name from the Clinton era being pressed into service by the Obama transition team. His chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, the White House counsel, climate change adviser, economics and energy chiefs, are all veterans of that turbulent period of First Family psychodramas. And the next secretary of state is of course Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Although Ms Currie was instrumental in allowing the Lewinsky affair to carry on, her relations with Mrs Clinton remain warm and she donated $750 from her retirement pension to the former first lady's presidential campaign. When she ran into Mrs Clinton, one of the candidate's first questions was about Socks, Chelsea Clinton's White House cat. Sadly, she told her, the cat had cancer and was doing poorly.

Ms Currie's loyalty was always to the president and she defended his privacy. While other White House staffers boiled over at the sight of Ms Lewinsky hovering around the Oval Office, Ms Currie was telling Secret Service agents not to record her trysting visits. When Ms Lewinsky called, Ms Currie would pass on messages on little pink message slips with the code name "Kay".

Yet when she finally came to testify, Ms Currie told all to prosecutors and gave the most damaging testimony which helped ensure impeachment proceedings against her boss went ahead.