Book: Prosecutors were prepared to indict Clintons

NEW YORK (AP) - December 18, 2009

In "The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs. Starr," due out in February, author Ken Gormley also says that Lewinsky believed Bill Clinton lied about their affair during grand jury testimony about his relationship with the White House intern.

The Associated Press on Friday obtained a copy of the book by Gormley, a Duquesne University law professor, about the scandals that enveloped the final years of the former president's second term. Excerpts from the book were first reported Thursday on the Politico news Web site.

Calls seeking comment from now-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and the former president's foundation weren't immediately returned Friday.

Gormley didn't return AP calls seeking comment; his publicist, Penny Simon, said Friday Gormley wouldn't speak about the book until its Feb. 16 release.

Former independent counsel Kenneth Starr's office spent millions in the 1990s on a probe of Clinton's affair with Lewinsky and efforts to cover it up, which led to the president's impeachment by the House. Starr's five-year probe also investigated the Clintons' Whitewater business dealings, the suicide of deputy White House counsel Vincent Foster, firing of White travel office workers and charges that White House officials misused FBI files.

After Starr left office, his successor, Robert Ray, sent a message to the ex-president that he was prepared to prosecute Bill Clinton. The books says Ray "took steps to instill the fear of God in the White House."

"I wanted them to know I was coming," Ray said. "I was fully of the view that if I was not prepared to carry out the threat, it wasn't worth making."

Lewinsky told Gormley that Clinton lied in grand jury testimony about the sexual affair they had.

"There was no leeway on the veracity of his statements because they asked him detailed and specific questions to which he answered untruthfully," Lewinsky said this year, according to the book.

Starr prosecutors in 1998 proposed to formally indict Hillary Rodham Clinton on charges she and a former law partner lied about her business dealings with Madison Guaranty, a failed savings and loan connected to friends James and Susan McDougal, Gormley wrote. The indictment was drafted against Clinton and Webster Lee Hubbell to be filed in Arkansas federal court, the book said.

"Yet the consensus was that any effort to prosecute Mrs. Clinton would be extremely risky," Gormley wrote. Prosecutors believed that "getting an Arkansas or a Washington grand jury to indict the First Lady seemed like a long shot." Starr prosecutors instead decided to focus efforts on charges against the former president, the book says.

In a deal with prosecutors on his last full day as president, Clinton acknowledged that he gave false testimony in the Lewinsky scandal, heading off the threat of indictment. As part of the deal, the president said he gave false answers in a January 1998 deposition, but he insisted he didn't do so knowingly, an important element of the crime of perjury.

In Gormley's new book, former Secret Service Director Lewis Merletti says that the FBI was suspicious that he had colluded with Clinton in order to get the agency's top job. Merletti claimed an FBI agent accused him of concealing Clinton's indiscretions. The FBI agent denied the accusation.

Gormley interviewed the former president, Starr, Lewinsky, Susan McDougal - who spent 18 months in prison for refusing to testify before a Whitewater grand jury - and ex-Arkansas state worker Paula Jones who alleged an affair with Bill Clinton.

He did not interview the former first lady.

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