A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President


Jeffrey Toobin, who covered the Clinton sex scandal for The New Yorker, has written the definitive book, superbly researched and crafted like a novel, about the unlikely events that culminated in the trial to impeach President Clinton.

Filled with previously unpublished documents and classified information, A Vast Conspiracy is an entirely fresh look at the scandal that nearly brought down a president. For starters, Toobin unravels the three strands of a national scandal - those...

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A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President

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Jeffrey Toobin, who covered the Clinton sex scandal for The New Yorker, has written the definitive book, superbly researched and crafted like a novel, about the unlikely events that culminated in the trial to impeach President Clinton.

Filled with previously unpublished documents and classified information, A Vast Conspiracy is an entirely fresh look at the scandal that nearly brought down a president. For starters, Toobin unravels the three strands of a national scandal - those leading from Paula Jones, Monica Lewinsky, and Kenneth Starr - that created a legal, personal, and political disaster for Bill Clinton. Then, Toobin lays bare the complex and tangled motivations that fueled Tripp and Goldberg, Isikoff and Hyde, and the other motley characters. Toobin drives this provocative tale with the narrative style of a sensational (if improbable) legal thriller.

Misguided, outlandish behavior was played out a the very highest levels, but Toobin analyzes the facts and the key figures with the dignity and insight that this story never received.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Thomas Powers The New York Times Book Review An admirably clear, vigorously written, plain-spoken and common-sensical book.

Anthony Lewis The New York Review of Books A superb work of factual and legal analysis....Few novels are as gripping.

People A story as taut and surprising as any thriller....Unimpeachable page-turner.

David Kaiser The Boston Globe An irresistibly readable new overview of the whole ugly case.

The Economist A good read...a brave book.

Floyd Abrams The New York Observer A superlatively researched and written book.

Wayne Woodlief Boston Herald A richly detailed narrative...[and] a fascinating read.

Michael Coffey Publishers Weekly Toobin has risen to the challenge of rendering the chaos of the impeachment, what led up to it and its denouement, in a sharp prose style and in a manner that makes sense of a disastrous phase of American political history.

Sherryl Connelly Daily News Compulsively readable....A Vast Conspiracy delivers new information, provides arresting perspective and is a helluva read for all that.

Chicago Sun-Times A rich and readable reprise of the Clinton scandals by the New Yorker writer who shows brilliantly how the American legal system spun out of control.

New York Times Book Review
His prose is fluent, direct and supple, his assessments pithy and succinct....He uses his legal expertise to assess defense and prosecution strategies, highlight crucial developments and sketch in the background of principle players in such a way that the stories create a mosaic of life.
Adam Cohen
In A Vast Conspiracy, New Yorker writer Jeffrey Toobin retells the whole tale with gusto.
New York Daily News
An irresistibly readable new overview of the whole ugly case.
USA Today
A well-written, profoundly rational analysis...Toobin's book possesses fresh insights.
Detroit Free Press
Toobin's book is literate, well-researched, penetrating and evenhanded, laying blame where it belongs, offering a reasonable perspective on this shabby case.
Boston Globe
A gripping and colorful account of the crime and trial that captured the world's attention.
San Francisco Chronicle
What makes the book both important and entertaining is the way [Toobin] fills in the gaps left by more partisan authors.
Entertainment Weekly
A real page-turner...blunt, sardonic, often morbidly funny.
Floyd Abrams
Where were you when President Clinton was impeached? Or when he was acquitted? Can you believe that you’ve not only forgotten, but that the whole ugly thing ended just a year ago?Jeffrey Toobin recalls it all, and inA Vast Conspiracy, a superlatively researched and written book, lays it out. There is only one hero in this book–Judge Susan Webber Wright, the jurist who dismissed the Paula Jones case and later held Mr. Clinton in contempt, stands alone as "an isolated beacon of sanity in the darkness." The remainder of the dramatis personae in the impeachment saga are deliciously skewered by Mr. Toobin... Mr. Toobin’s portrayal of the President is far more nuanced than what most commentators have offered.
The New York Observer
The Economist
Mr. Toobin's book is a brave one...Clear sightedness is this book's main virtue...Mr. Toobin tells the tale with such pace and clarity that his book is a good read despite itself.
[An] admirably clear, vigorously written, plain-spoken and common-sensical book...Toobin's strength lies in his ability to chart a clear narrative line through tangled cases . . . The main and considerable pleasure of his book comes from watching the astonishing story unfold so it makes sense.
The New York Times Book Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743204132
  • Publisher: Touchstone
  • Publication date: 10/13/2000
  • Edition description: 1 TOUCHSTO
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 299,569
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeffrey Toobin

Jeffrey Toobin is a staff writer at The New Yorker and the legal analyst at ABC News. He served as an assistant United States attorney in Brooklyn and as an associate counsel in the office of independent counsel Lawrence E. Walsh. He is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School and the author of the bestselling The Run of His Life: The People v. O. J. Simpson. Toobin lives in New York City with his wife and two children.

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Read an Excerpt

From Chapter 6: "Joan Dean"

The president's attempt, in February 1996, to cut off his relationship with Monica Lewinsky had been less than fully successful. The frequency of their contacts never approached the halcyon days of the previous month, but their encounters didn't stop altogether, either. On the Sunday afternoon of March 31, Clinton summoned Lewinsky to the study for the first time since their breakup a little more than a month earlier. (It was on this occasion that they made erotic use of one of the president's cigars. Lewinsky told her biographer, Andrew Morton, that after the experience with the cigar, "she realized she had fallen in love." One FBI interview with Lewinsky on this subject included a revealing disclosure about the real taboos of the Clinton era: "The president did not smoke the cigar because smoking is forbidden in the White House.")

On the following Friday, April 5, 1996, Lewinsky was fired from the White House staff. Her departure was the work of Evelyn Lieberman, a deputy chief of staff who made it her business to monitor White House staffers (especially women) for inappropriate behavior around the president. Lieberman regarded Lewinsky as a "clutch" who tried too hard to be around the president. But Lewinsky was also let go because she wasn't very good at her job. Lewinsky and her boss, Jocelyn Jolley, were terminated on the same day. The two women were responsible for directing routine correspondence from Capitol Hill to the correct office in the White House. According to Lieberman and others, they did it slowly and inaccurately, and a change was needed regardless of Lewinsky's behavior around the president. As Timothy Keating,Clinton's director of legislative affairs, told the Starr investigators, Lewinsky "spent too much time out of the office and not enough time doing what she should have been doing." Neither woman was thrown off the government payroll, however. Jolley was given a temporary job in the General Services Administration, and Lewinsky was dispatched to the public affairs office of the Pentagon.

By almost any standard, Lewinsky's new job was better than her old one. It came with a raise, the opportunity to travel, and increased responsibility. Still, Lewinsky was shattered by the change. She devoted the next year and a half to finding a way to return to the White House and proximity to Clinton. Notably, in all of these eVorts, Lewinsky displayed no interest in what she might actually do at the White House. This is not entirely surprising, since she admittedly had no interest in politics or the workings of government. (Indeed, it suggests that the decision to fire her was a pretty good one in the first place — and that she was lucky to get the job that she did.) Two days after her transfer, on Easter Sunday, April 7, Lewinsky made a teary appeal for a stay of execution in an audience with the president in his private study.

Lewinsky later described this meeting with Clinton in one of the conversations that Tripp surreptitiously taped. "He called me at six o'clock and he said, you know, 'Hi,' and I said, 'Hi.' And this was, like, the Ron Brown thing." (The secretary of commerce, who was a close friend of Clinton's, had just been killed in an airplane crash.) "I said, 'How are you doing?' He was like, 'Oh, I'm okay. It's so bad, da, da, da.' I said, 'I know.'" Following this moment of shared grieving, Lewinsky told the president, "Well, I have more bad news for you....Guess whose last day is tomorrow....Can I please come and see you?"

"So I went to see him," Lewinsky went on, "and he — you know — and I was so upset, and he said, 'Well, let me see what I can do,' you know. He said — he says, 'Why do they have to take you away from me? I trust you so much,' you know. And then — then he said, 'I promise you...if I win in November, I'll have you back like that. You can do anything you want. You can be anything you want. You can do anything you want.'

"And then," Lewinsky continued to her friend, "I made a joke, and I said, 'Well, can I be the assistant to the president for blow jobs?' He said, 'I'd like that.'"

Before this conversation with the president ended, Lewinsky again auditioned for that position (this time while the president was on the telephone with his adviser Dick Morris). Their interlude was interrupted when Clinton's aide Harold Ickes arrived in the offal office to see the president. Lewinsky scurried out a side door. They didn't see each other privately for the rest of 1996.

* * *

Lewinsky's title at the Pentagon was confidential assistant to the assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, Kenneth Bacon. She was, in essence, the secretary to the press secretary. For most twenty-two-year-olds, it would have been a dream job — full of glamorous travel with high-level delegations to the best hotels in the great capitals of the world. But Lewinsky didn't see it that way. She was consumed by a single interest in life: waiting for the president to call her for phone sex, a visit, or best of all, a job (any job) back at the White House. She moped, ate a great deal, and did this job rather badly as well, especially under time pressure. (She was supposed to do transcriptions for Bacon, and she did not type well.) On her Day-Timer at work, Lewinsky kept track of the days since her last sexual encounter with the president and the days until the election, when, she hoped, she would return to the White House.

A small bright spot in Lewinsky's otherwise grim existence came shortly after she started at the Pentagon. She noticed that one of her colleagues in the public affairs office had decorated her work space with "jumbos" of President Clinton — the large-format photographs that are displayed throughout the White House. Lewinsky wondered if the owner of the photographs had also worked at the White House. As Tripp later testified in the grand jury, "I had the jumbos and she begged me for one of the jumbos." So on the basis of this aspect of their shared past, Monica Lewinsky and Linda Tripp struck up their friendship.

Despite the difference in their ages — Tripp was twenty-four years older than Lewinsky — the two women had more in common than just their prior place of employment. They both loved to gossip, and they shared an intense interest in clothes, hair, and dieting. Tripp recalled later that she always knew that Lewinsky was a big fan of the president's, but she never noticed anything unusual about her interest in him until August 1996, when the young woman traveled to New York to attend a gala fund-raiser on the occasion of his fiftieth birthday. At this event, Lewinsky contrived to place herself near the president, and then, in the words of one of her FBI debriefings, "Lewinsky reached behind herself to fondle and squeeze the President's penis." Lewinsky didn't share that detail with Tripp at the time, but she began to hint that she had a big secret in her recent past.

At first Lewinsky would say only that she had had an affair with "someone" at the White House. She called him "Handsome" or "the Big Creep" — the latter because of the way he had ended the relationship — and finally she admitted her lover was the president. (Lewinsky had already shared the news with her mother, her Aunt Debra, a therapist, and a handful of friends — in all, eleven people.) Tripp, who had just dropped her book project with Gallagher and Goldberg, was as interested in listening as Lewinsky was in talking.

As the presidential election approached, Lewinsky was racked by nervous tension offer whether she would finally be allowed to return to a job at the White House. (She also had an abortion in this period, the result of a brief relationship with a Pentagon colleague.) After Clinton's victory offer Bob Dole, the president never delivered on the promise of a job, but he did agree to see Lewinsky again. After her departure from the White House, she had begun cultivating the president's personal secretary, Betty Currie, who came to serve as Lewinsky's conduit for messages to, and occasionally from, Clinton.

On February 28, 1997, Currie invited Lewinsky to watch the taping of the president's weekly radio address. When the couple retreated to his private office after the speech, Clinton gave the former intern a pair of belated Christmas gifts — a blue glass hat pin and an edition of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. For the first time in nearly eleven months, Monica began performing oral sex on the president, but this time their encounter would end differently from all the others. As Lewinsky later testified to Starr's prosecutors, "I finished" — and she was wearing a blue dress from the Gap. (There was only one more sexual contact between them. On March 29, with the president still on crutches from his knee injury at the golfer Greg Norman's house in Florida, Lewinsky once again performed oral sex "to completion" while, as she put it to Starr's prosecutors, Clinton "manually stimulated me" to four orgasms. Still consumed with her White House job hunt, Lewinsky left the president with a copy of her résumé on this day.)

By this time, Lewinsky was keeping Tripp apprised moment to moment on the progress of her relationship. The two women gave somewhat contradictory accounts of Tripp's behavior in response. Tripp asserted that she gave no advice on how Lewinsky should sustain the relationship, but Lewinsky said Tripp goaded her to keep it going. Lewinsky's account is far more persuasive. If Tripp had really disapproffed, she could have simply cut off contact with Lewinsky; indeed, if that had been Tripp's attitude, Lewinsky probably would have wanted nothing to do with her. Instead, the pace of their contacts only accelerated. It was, for example, in the spring of 1997 that Tripp suggested that Lewinsky use the Excel spreadsheet software on her computer at the Pentagon to make a grid of all her contacts with Clinton. That way, the older woman said, Monica could identify the "patterns" of the relationship. This, however, was a plainly bogus pretext for Tripp to secure documentary evidence of the subject that had long obsessed her — the president's extramarital sex life.

And, by coincidence, it was at this time that Tripp met a man who shared her obsession with that subject. On March 24, 1997, Mike Isikoff came calling at the Pentagon to ask about Kathleen Willey. This was, as Tripp told him, "barking up the wrong tree."

* * *

But still, Isikoff wanted to know about Kathleen Willey. The reporter began shuttling between the two women, trying to sort out what (if anything) had happened between Willey and the president. He later wrote that "the relationship between Tripp and Willey turned out to be a lot more complicated than I suspected." Though Tripp had befriended Willey at the White House and tried to help her find a paying job there, Tripp came to think that Willey was trying to steal Tripp's own job in the counsel's office. Tripp's departure to the Pentagon had ended the budding competition between them, but some bitterness lingered. More important, even though Willey promised Isikoff that Tripp would back up her story about the president's crude pass, Tripp did no such thing. According to Tripp, it was Willey who had schemed to ensnare the president.

Isikoff's inquiries illustrated the diYculties of sexual investigative reporting. According to Tripp's later testimony, while they both worked in the White House in 1993, Kathleen had complained about her marriage to Ed Willey and tried to have an affair with the president. "They both had — appeared to have — not very good marriages, and it just seemed to be as consenting adults," she said. Tripp had indeed seen Willey after her November 29 meeting with the president, but she had been anything but distraught by the encounter. "I can just tell you that she was very excited, very ?ustered, she smiled from ear to ear the entire time," Tripp told the grand jury. "She seemed almost shocked, but happy shocked." (Clinton would proffide still a third version of what happened between him and Willey. He acknowledged meeting with her in his private office, but said that he had only comforted her about her husband's travails. Starr's prosecutor Jackie Bennett challenged Clinton about this incident in the president's grand jury deposition: "You placed her hand on your genitals, did you not?" Clinton bristled, saying, "Mr. Bennett, I didn't do any of that, and the questions you're asking, I think, betray the bias of this operation that has troubled me for a long time.")

But before Isikoff had a chance to put his reporting in the magazine, he was, in a way, beaten to the punch. In late June 1997, Matt Drudge visited Washington at a time when his celebrity was still rather modest. Two years earlier, Drudge had started posting various news items and gossip — mostly early reports of weekend moffie grosses along with occasional news of show business contract disputes — on the ?edgling World Wide Web. His popularity grew with that of the Internet, and Drudge soon developed a following in the tens of thousands, especially among journalists. Drudge wrote with a cranky anti-Clinton slant, but his juicy tidbits and old-time tabloid style made his intermittently reliable Drudge Report a must-read in political and media circles. By the time he toured Newsweek's offices, in the summer of 1997, he could promenade through them like a visiting dignitary. (On the same trip to Washington, Drudge was guest of honor at a dinner thrown by the ubiquitous David Brock.) In a conversation with Drudge at Newsweek, Isikoff accidentally confirmed that he was working on an article about a possible act of sexual harassment by the president in the White House.

Drudge ran a vague item on his web site about Isikoff's research on July 4, and then tried hard to follow up. It wasn't too diYcult, because by this time, Cammarata had already located and subpoenaed Willey. The elves — the conservative lawyers who were helping the Jones team — began leaking to Drudge. Laura Ingraham, later a network journalist, introduced Conway to Drudge, and Conway told Drudge about Willey. Drudge's items put pressure on Isikoff and Newsweek to give the story their imprimatur. It was the same strategy employed with the leaks to The Washington Times after Isikoff's suspension in 1994 — to goad a national publication into running a story that would damage the president.

Isikoff went back to Willey to try to persuade her to put her story about Clinton on the record. She wouldn't talk, but among Cammarata, Tripp, and Willey's friend Julie Hiatt Steele — who told Isikoff that Willey had earlier asked her to lie about the incident with the president — the reporter had enough to cobble together a story for the magazine. Entitled "A Twist in Jones v. Clinton," Isikoff's story hit on August 3, 1997. "The phone call was provocative, to say the least," it began, describing the mysterious caller who had tantalized Cammarata in January. "She refused to give her name," the article went on, "but offered enough details to allow Cammarata to track down the woman he believes made the call: Kathleen E. Willey." This was artful phrasing on Isikoff's part. The caller did offer enough details "to allow Cammarata" to track her down, but that wasn't exactly what happened. As Isikoff implied later in the article, Cammarata had used Isikoff to track her down and make her story public — which was what the lawyer had wanted all along. Of course, the story included Bob Bennett denying, on Clinton's behalf, that he had made a sexual advance toward Willey.

Isikoff's story also included one more significant, if garbled, passage. Isikoff quoted the then obscure Linda Tripp as saying she remembered seeing Willey after her alleged encounter with the president, and she looked "disheveled. Her face was red and her lipstick was off. She was ?ustered, happy and joyful." Tripp wanted "to make it clear that this was not a case of sexual harassment." In this instance, Tripp's comments both help and hurt the president — suggesting that Willey was lying but also that some consensual sexual activity might have occurred. But Isikoff quoted Bennett as saying only that Tripp "is not to be believed." Tripp later cited this comment as turning her from a loyal soldier in the administration to a determined enemy. It was a debatable claim — for example, Tripp had already planned an anti-Clinton book — but the Bennett comment gave her the pretext she needed to turn against Clinton completely.

In any event, Isikoff had his scoop, albeit with an annoying postscript. In his last report on the Willey story, Matt Drudge had added a characteristically proffocative kicker. isikoff book blowup, Drudge's headline screamed. "Was investigative reporter Michael Isikoff holding back his wild Kathleen Willey White House sex tale for a book? Talk around the newsweek offices has Isikoff compiling stories on various Clinton scandals for a collection — Willey was to be one of the 'newsworthy' sell points of the project." It was not true that he was holding back, but just the same, Isikoff and Glenn Simpson decided to put their book idea aside. As it happened, however, two other book projects in the case were just then coming to life.

Copyright © 2000 by Jeffery Toobin

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Table of Contents


Cast of Characters


Prologue: "This Is Danny"

1. What the Bubbas Wrought

2. "Isn't That What Happened?"

3. Party Girl

4. "I Love This Man"

5. A Really Big Crush

6. "Joan Dean"

7. Their Tabloid Hearts

8. "Good Strong Christian Men"

9. "Draw the Penis for Me"

10. Consensual Sex

11. Revenge of the "Peace Corps"

12. The Definition of Sex — and L-E-W-I-N-S-K-Y

13. The Richard Jewell File

14. "I Guess That Will Teach Them"

15. "Words of Assent"

16. "Eighteenth-Hand" Rumors

17. "I Don't Care If I'm Impeached..."

18. Winning by Losing

19. Mr. Genitalia and the Perjury Ladies

20. These Culture Wars

Epilogue: Private and Public


Source Notes and Bibliography


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First Chapter

For all the condemnation of Clinton's speech in the news media, the prosecution team didn't take any false optimism out of the events of August 17. In his grand jury testimony, the president had been more careful than in his deposition, seven months earlier.

Increasingly, the savvier members of the prosecution staff recognized that their entire case came down to the sex-whether the president had lied about it in his deposition and then in his grand jury testimony. In light of Clinton's refusal to answer certain questions, Bittman and Wisenberg had pinned him down as best they could. Before the grand jury, Clinton had repeated his position that as he understood the definition of sexual relations provided to him on January 18, he had not had such contacts with Lewinsky. Clinton had admitted to "inappropriate intimate contact," which he declined to spell out, but by a sort of process of elimination, he had said he had not "directly" touched Lewinsky's breasts or vagina with his hands or mouth "with intent to arouse" her.

It was a slender basis on which to make a case. Since Clinton had admitted intimate contact, what difference did it make whether he acknowledged precisely how and where he had placed his hands and mouth? A big difference, according to the clear consensus at the Office of Independent Counsel. If they could prove a falsehood-any falsehood-they were going to make a case, regardless of the subject matter. In a United States Attorney's Office, where judges and prosecutors were lied to with regularity, prosecutors would weigh the significance of the false statements and consider whether the government's resources might be better deployed in another way. But in an independent counsel's office, especially this one, this kind of thinking was anathema. As Starr said in one of his curbside news conferences, "Okay, you're taking an oath...under God, that you will-'so help me, God, that I will tell the truth.' That's awfully important. Now that means we attach a special importance to it. There's no room for white lies. There's no room for shading. There's only room for truth....You cannot defile the temple of justice."

So Starr would pursue the perjury about sex, and that raised a different issue. In her testimony before the grand jury on August 6, Lewinsky had spoken in a general way about her sexual relationship with the president. Now, in light of how the Starr team wanted to parse Clinton's answers in the grand jury, there would be a need for a great deal more specificity about the mechanics of their encounters. How they chose to conduct that next examination of Lewinsky would itself turn out to be a landmark in the history of American law enforcement.

* * * * *

Women who met Starr for the first time often remarked on his courtliness-opening doors, pulling out chairs, and generally behaving as he was taught in San Antonio. He was a good listener, too, and his pet phrase "the deliberative process" almost became a joke around the OIC because things sometimes moved so slowly. But no matter how long it took, Starr believed in hearing everyone out. At the end of the process, though, one thing remained the same in any organization Starr had led: he followed the advice of men.

During the three decades of Starr's career, the legal profession integrated many women into positions of responsibility. This was especially true in criminal law. But in the Justice Department, at Kirkland & Ellis, and in the Office of Independent Counsel, Starr invariably chose deputies who looked and sounded like him. As someone who had benefited enormously from powerful mentors like Warren Burger and William French Smith, Starr, too, had a series of proteges in the law-all young white men. Starr's refusal to delegate power to women was especially striking at the OIC. All of his deputies were men. Twenty-nine prosecutors represented the OIC in the grand jury-twenty-five men and four women. There were 121 sessions with witnesses before the grand jury-and women prosecutors led the questioning six times. There were small slights, too. After the convictions in the Whitewater trial, Starr called all the members of the prosecution team to congratulate them except for the one woman, Amy St. Eve.

Starr's history with women made the OIC's solution to its Lewinsky problem all the more striking. Who would ask Monica Lewinsky about the gory details of the caresses in the presidential study? Mary Anne Wirth and Karin Immergut. Ironically, they were two of the more experienced federal prosecutors in the group, and they had compiled admirable records on opposite sides of the country, Wirth in New York and Immergut in Los Angeles. In light of their accomplishments, it was all the more poignant that they agreed to be used in this manner, because the session they conducted with Lewinsky on August 26 was a disgrace-to the prosecutors themselves, to Starr, to Lewinsky, and, indeed, to the criminal process. It was also a monument to the absurdity of the entire Starr investigation, that an inquiry about a land deal in the 1970s had come down to...this.

* * * * *

"We are on the record," Karin Immergut began. "Ms. Lewinsky, could you please state and spell your full name for the record?

It was 12:35 p.m. on August 26. Immergut, Wirth, and Lewinsky were gathered with a female court reporter in a conference room in the independent counsel offices on Pennsylvania Avenue. In light of the questions Lewinsky was going to be asked, the prosecutors thought she would find it easier if they conducted a private deposition rather than confront her in front of the grand jurors. For her earlier grand jury appearances, the prosecutors had prepared a chart listing each of Lewinsky's sexual encounters with the president. On this day, Immergut handed the chart to her and said, "What I would like to do is go through the events that are written in bold, which deal with the private encounters you had with the president."

Immergut started with the first one, the thong-induced intimacies of November 15, 1995. Lewinsky recounted that in the president's study, "I know that we were talking a bit and kissing. I remember-I know that he-I believe I unbuttoned my jacket and he touched my, my breasts with my bra on, and then either-I don't remember if I unhooked my bra or he lifted my bra up, but he-this is embarrassing."

"Then he touched your breasts with his hands?" Immergut offered.

"Yes, he did."

"Did he touch your breast with his mouth?"

"Yes, he did."

"Did he touch your genital area at all that day?"

"Yes," Lewinsky said. "We moved-I believe he took a phone call in his office, and so we moved from the hallway into the back office, and the lights were off. And at that point, he, he put his hand down my pants and stimulated me manually in the genital area."

"And did he bring you to orgasm?"

"Yes, he did."

Immergut was just getting started. She asked, "Was there any discussion during the November seventeenth encounter about sex during the encounter?"

"I don't know exactly what you mean...."

"Well, either about what he wanted or what you wanted, or anything like that, in terms of sex?" Immergut asked.

"No," said Lewinsky. "I mean, I think that there were always things being said, but not necessarily in a conversational form. Does that make sense?"

Both Lewinsky and Immergut were kind of struggling at this point. "Okay," the prosecutor resumed. "And when you say there were always things being said, do you mean kind of chatting while you were having sex, or things that felt good? I don't mean that. I mean-"

"Okay," Lewinsky said, trying to rescue the floundering prosecutor.

"-trying either implicitly giving you direction about what he wanted, or why he wouldn't ejaculate, anything like that?"

"I believe why he wouldn't ejaculate was discussed again," Lewinsky said.

As the prosecutor and witness continued their desultory march through the "encounters," certain themes emerged. Lewinsky was defensive about the brevity of the trysts. (She generally removed her underwear before going to the Oval Office, which moved things along.) About the third one, Immergut asked, "Do you know how long that sexual encounter...lasted...?"

"Maybe ten minutes. Not, not very long. We would always spend quite a bit of time kissing. So."

"And kissing and talking and just...being affectionate?" Immergut interjected helpfully.


Lewinsky was also baffled by the president's insistence on not ejaculating. "The two excuses he always used were, one, that he didn't know me well enough or he didn't trust me yet," she said. "So that it sort of seemed to be some bizarre issue for him."

As this surreal proceeding continued, Immergut at times sounded more like a sex therapist than a prosecutor. "On that occasion," she said at one point, "you mentioned that he did not touch your genitals at all. Was there any discussion about that?"

"No," said Lewinsky.


"At that point, sex was sort of the more dominant part of the relationship?"


"Rather than as it became-" Immergut continued.

"There was always a lot of joking going on between us," Lewinsky said. "And so we, you know, I mean, it was fun....We were very compatible sexually. And I've always felt that he was sort of my sexual soul mate, and that I just felt very connected to him when it came to those kinds of things."

Always, though, Immergut returned to the sweaty minutiae. "And again, just with respect with bringing you to an orgasm, did he touch you directly on your skin on your genitals, or was it through underwear?"

"First it was through underwear, and then it was directly touching my genitals," said Lewinsky, who did display remarkable recall.

Immergut kept after Lewinsky for nearly two hours, and like any drama, this inquisition built, as it were, to a climax. On February 28, 1997, Clinton and Lewinsky had not been alone together in nearly eleven months, but after attending his Saturday radio address, she wangled an invitation to his study. There, she testified, "I was pestering him to kiss me." One thing led to another, and then, "I continued to perform oral sex and then he pushed me away, kind of as he always did before he came, and then I stood up and I said, you know, I really, I care about you so much; I really, I don't understand why you won't let me, you know, make you come; it's important to me; I mean, it just doesn't feel complete, it doesn't seem right.

"And so he-we hugged. And, you know, he said he didn't want to get addicted to me, and he didn't want me to get addicted to him. And we were just sort of looking at each other and then, you know, he sort of, he looked at me, he said, okay. And so then I finished."

"How did the meeting then end, or the encounter?" Immergut asked.

"We, well, we kissed after-"

"The ejaculation?" asked the prosecutor.


There was really only one more important question.

"The dress that you were wearing on this occasion, is that the blue dress from the Gap?"

Monica Lewinsky's sigh was almost audible on the transcript. "Unfortunately, yes," she said.

Kenneth Starr's case for impeachment of the president was ready to go to Congress.

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Sort by: Showing all of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2000

    Finally, a non-bias account

    Finally, a non-bias account of the whole Clinton saga. Toobin's legal expertise comes in handy when describing the tactics and issues of the Paula Jones Sexual Harrassment lawsuit and the Impeachment trial.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2000

    ABC's Legal Analyst Toobin Digs Deep

    Mr.Toobin's 'A Vast Conspiracy' is so well-written I had a hard time putting it down. Thought I was tired of the Clinton saga but found much useful info in this book. The sequence of events, the people, etc. A class act book with a touch of humor.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2000

    The truth, finally.

    Mr Toobin did what most of the media failed to do: he wrote the truth about what happened.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2000

    An Incredible Story

    Although the title may suggest otherwise, this book is actually a very objective, well-balanced, and thoroughly researched telling of a story that has just left the front page. What is incredible to me, is that, in spite of the massive amount of media attention and countless hours of news reporting, this amazing story of lust, greed, power, and possible redemption played out right before our eyes without any of us understanding its' context or causes, to say nothing of the facts. In writing this book, Mr. Toobin has done a great service to journalism and to history.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2000

    Awful People

    The cast of characters in this book would more likely be found in a satiric novel than a non-fiction book about modern politics: so many of them are just so awful that they are comical. You really do not expect actual people to be so greedy, shallow and self-absorbed. And the best is that the vice is so well balanced; both sides in the impeachment affair have more than their share or despicable characters. The book would be more enjoyable if one did not remember from time to time that this is the present state of American politics.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2000

    The definitive book on the whole stupid mess

    A very thorough and interesting look at every angle of the Clinton scandal. Anyone interested in a gripping account of how power is won and lost in modern day America needs to read this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2000

    Salem Redux

    This book is a must read to understand the current mindset in Washington. We have had a cycle of legal violence in this country since the Independent Counsel law was enacted. Democrats went after republicans. After Clinton was elected the republicans turned the tables around and went after him, his wife and anybody he has shaken hands with his entire adult life. The media love this. For them it is nothing more than theater. It is good for their ratings, circulation and there is always the prospect of book deals. The involvement of Michael Isikoff in this story is deplorable. Journalists are supposed to report facts. He did more than that, he agressively manipulated various players to push the story forward in order to land a book deal. I worry about our democracy because the events of the past year amounted to a botched coup. It proved how fragile our democracy is. Our democracy survived not because the press acted as a guardian of democracy or the politicians acted responsibly, but because the American People stayed level headed. Next time they may not. First came Salem, then the McCarthy era, then the Starr Chamber.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2000

    'The thinking man's guide to the Clinton scandal'...

    A well-written, common-sensed look at this unusually spectacular non-event in American history. For good or bad, Watergate seems to have shaped the media of our generation, and in so doing has established the prevailing no-holds-barred paranoia that so often finds its way into the press. Mr. Toodin expertly applies his rational approach to a not so uncommon set of human events that have been spun wildly out of control by the prevailing winds of the MEDIA. A great read on the subject.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2000

    'The bigger the stakes the smaller they acted.'

    Finally, a comprehensive, evenhanded and excellently sourced account of the five year long witch hunt to bring down a duly elected president. Toobin connects the dots from Cliff Jackson to Brock, Paula Jones,Anne Coulter's and her 'elves' to Isikoff, Tripp, Aldrich, Lewinsky to Ken Starr and all the dots in between. His narrative is packed with disclosures and secret documents that never made it to the hysterical tabloid-like, sex obsessed, 'main street press.' The same press that chose to minimize, even over look the RTC findings that the Clinton's had done nothing wrong in Whitewater; which should have ended Ken Starr's wasteful investigation. Yet the OIC languished endlessly until finally years later Linda Tripp, her book deal fizzling, called them with her illegal tapes of Monica Lewinsky. Toobin's narrative exposes the motives behind the scandal and even recounts some very funny moments behind the scenes in this sad chapter in modern American politics. There are no heroes in the saga but in Toobin's own words 'the most astonishing fact may be this one: in spite of his consistently reprehensible behavior, Clinton was, by comparison, the good guy in this struggle. The president's adversaries appeared literally consumed with hatred for him; the bigger the stakes, the smaller they acted. They were willing to trample all standards of fairness--not to mention the Constitution--in their effort to drive him from office.' Excellent reading!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2000

    A Republican who LOVES this book!!!!

    I have always thought that this so-called scandal was going to backfire on the Republican party but now I am convinced it will. As a moderate Republican, I have seen my party overrun by extremists, fundamentalist wackos, and right-wing illiterates. The facts presented in this book only serve to prove that we are losing ground - FAST. The book was thoroughly interesting, and frightening to read. (We can be the next VICTIMS of a similar unjust witchunt that Bill Clinton endured). I am not a big Clinton fan...but I think he has been a better-than-average President, who will grow in staure as the years pass and we can see CLEARLY again. Buy this book and read about the other facts...so often ignored the past few years.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2000

    an excellent research with honest fact finding results

    A book giving true picture of a historical events showing both the week and strong charectors. A book, well balanced on the two party political system of this country.Revealing poltical might of an Opposition Party. Truly justifying president CLINTONS' behavior that was caught between a rock and hard truth. Also portraying those 4 important charectors playing a role to make money and to exploite the human tragedy.One important aspect, I feel, was to be mentioned that how Monica Luwinsky was raised in a high income, professional family of a dentist, that father did not know what his daughter was upto, until a press release. The whole affairis a tragedy!!Jeffrey Tobbin has proved to be a good lawyer and an honest journalist, a true reporter. My congradulations on publishing such an epic on the President.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2000

    The Final Word on the Clinton Haters

    The President has been very lucky in his enemies over the years, and Toobin's masterful work will endure as the diffinitive text on how a small band of determined right-wing operatives used the warped levers of media and the judiciary to perform the ultimate high-tech lynching. Read this book to find out how a President and a family were smeared. If you read one book about the Clinton 'scandals' this should be it. Bravo to Mr. Toobin, who will be owed a debt by a grateful nation many years from now for making it all so crystal clear. Give a copy to your neigbors, your co-workers, and most of all to your children.

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