- December 2: Clinton's attorney, Robert Bennett, knows something is afoot in the Jones case, though he isn't sure what. He suspects collusion between the OIC and the Jones legal team (how right he is, he can't even guess). He also knows that in at least one case, a sealed affidavit concerning the Jones case had been faxed from Kenneth Starr's law firm, Kirkland & Ellis, to the Chicago Tribune in direct violation of Judge Susan Webber Wright's gag order compelling all attorneys involved in the case not to discuss the case with anyone from the media. Further, he knows that OIC investigators have been sniffing around Clinton's sexual history. Bennett subpoenas Kirkland's Washington office for any documents concerning the Jones lawsuit as well as any attorneys, individuals, and groups connected with it, including the Jones legal fund, Susan Carpenter-McMillan, Eberle & Associates (the legal firm supplying lawyers for Jones), the Rutherford Institute, and Arkansas lawyer Cliff Jackson, among others, that might exist in the firm's Washington or Chicago office files. (Joe Conason and Gene Lyons)
"NOW is saying that in order to be a woman, you've got to be a lesbian." -- Pat Robertson, The 700 Club, December 3
Taliban negotiates with Unocal for pipeline construction in Afghanistan
- December 4: Representatives of the Taliban visit Unocal headquarters in Sugarland, Texas. The Taliban apparently agree to a $2 billion deal to build the pipeline, but demand that the US recognize them as the legitimate government of Afghanistan. American officials, who had previously condemned the human rights practices of the Taliban, appear eager to scale back the rhetorical attacks against the regime and sign the agreement. Though the deal is not officially sealed, Unocal contracts with the University of Nebraska to train 400 Afghani teachers, engineers, carpenters, and pipefitters in preparation for the pipeline's construction. Unocal is in competition with an Argentinian firm, Bridas, to build the pipeline. (CCR, BBC, BBC/Killtown, From the Wilderness)
- December 6: Monica Lewinsky tries to enter the White House with an armload of gifts for Clinton, but is turned away at the gate; she makes a scene and leaves in tears. After a flurry of phone calls between Lewinsky and Clinton's secretary Betty Currie, Clinton invites her to come by that afternoon. When they meet, Lewinsky tells him of her frustration with Vernon Jordan's apparent failure to help her land a job in New York. Clinton doesn't tell her that the day before he had received a witness list from the Jones legal team naming Lewinsky as one of their witnesses. Clinton arranges for Lewinsky to meet with Jordan for lunch to discuss the job situation. (Joe Conason and Gene Lyons)
- December 14: Time prints a story that leads to Vice President Al Gore being characterized as a liar over the Erich Segal book Love Story. While chatting with reporters aboard Air Force II, Gore mentions that Segal had told a reporter from the Nashville Tennessean that he and his wife Tipper were models for the main characters of the book. As Time reporter Karen Tumulty later recalls, "He said, 'all I know is that's what [Segal] told reporters in Tennessee.'" Tumulty writes in her profile of Gore, "Gore said [Segal] used Al and Tipper as models for the uptight preppy and his free-spirited girlfriend in Love Story." Unfortunately, the Tennessean had misquoted Segal. Segal later states that Gore is partially right, that the male character was based on Gore and his roommate, the actor Tommy Lee Jones, but Tipper was not the model for the female character. While this can and should be seen as an honest, and a minor, mistake on Gore's part, the media latches on to it as evidence of Gore being a "pathological liar," even misquoting Segal to say that he didn't base anything of his novel on either of the Gores. This becomes part of the overarching, inaccurate media mythos of Gore being an inverterate liar. (Consortium News, Al Franken)
- December 18: Ann Coulter tells Politically Incorrect's Bill Maher, in reference to a recent crime, "If those kids had been carrying guns they would have gunned down this one [child] gunman. ...Don't pray. Learn to use guns." (Huffington Post)
- December 19: Monica Lewinsky is subpoenaed to testify in the Paula Jones court case. Her "friend" Clinton has told Lewinsky days before that she is on the Jones witness list, and asked her to tell him if and when she is subpoenaed. The subpoena is quite explicit in its request for physical evidence (mostly gifts from Clinton to Lewinsky), signaling to the Clinton lawyers that either Lewinsky has been cooperating with the Jones lawyers, or someone else with intimate knowledge of Lewinsky's affairs has been. That someone is Linda Tripp. Tripp, who has been secretly taping their conversations and sharing her information with the Jones legal team, reporter Michael Isikoff, and a variety of anti-Clinton operatives, was "subpoenaed" on November 24; in reality, Tripp wants desperately to testify, but wants to appear coerced. (Tripp left her job at the Pentagon a week later.) On December 22, Clinton's friend and counsel Vernon Jordan takes Lewinsky to see Frank Carter, a lawyer with a strong reputation for ethical conduct. Lewinsky swears that she and Clinton have had no sexual relationship, and Carter agrees to draw up an affidavit for her to sign that might help her avoid testifying.
- Later that day, against her lawyer's advice to stop taping, Tripp once again tapes a phone conversation between herself and Lewinsky. Tripp tries to draw Lewinsky into making damaging admissions about herself, Clinton, and even Jordan. The resulting tape, which will become a prime piece of evidence, is ambiguous at best, but can be interpreted by the overly enthusiastic to reveal that Lewinsky is planning to lie about her relationship with Clinton under oath, and that Jordan has encouraged her to do so. Listeners can even construe the conversation to read that Lewinsky is asking Tripp to lie as well. Tripp hastens to provide the tape to Lucianne Goldberg, who immediately ships it off to the Jones lawyers; the "official" legal team quickly raises questions about perjury, subornation of perjury, and obstruction of justice. During the conversation, the brazenly duplicitous Tripp reassures Lewinsky that she will do everything in her power not to reveal Lewinsky's secrets to the Jones legal team. Reassured, Lewinsky does not tell anyone on the Clinton team about Tripp, allowing Tripp and Goldberg to spring their trap on Clinton through the Jones team without forewarning.
- Tripp can't resist bragging to her weekly bridge team about her involvement in the "get-Clinton" effort, and keeps them posted on all the juicy details. According to later testimony by Maryland state prosecutor Steve Montanarelli, Tripp told them that she was "tape-recording a woman named Monica who was having a sexual relationship with the president." She even invited Lewinsky to a Christmas party at her home so her bridge friends could meet the woman in question. Remarkably, Tripp's friends, like the others Lewinsky confides in, are quite discreet; the news never leaks.
- The last step is to provide the information to the Office of the Investigative Counsel, Kenneth Starr. Once again, Jones's "elves" take care of that detail, informing OIC staffer Paul Rosenzweig. Rosenzweig hustles to tell the sordid tale to OIC deputy Jackie Bennett, and Starr approves taking testimony from Tripp on January 12, 1998. (Marvin Kalb, Executive Intelligence Review, Joe Conason and Gene Lyons)
- December 28: Monica Lewinsky makes her final visit to the White House, to pick up her Christmas gifts from Clinton. While there, Clinton asks if she has ever spoken about the details of their former relationship to Linda Tripp. Wanting to protect her friend, and having no idea of the lengths Tripp has gone to in order to use Lewinsky, Lewinsky says no. Later that evening, Clinton's secretary, Betty Currie, calls Lewinsky to discuss her affidavit for the Paula Jones trial. Neither Currie nor Lewinsky later say that Clinton had asked Lewinsky to withhold the truth in her affidavit, and Currie later drives to Lewinsky's apartment to pick up a number of gifts Clinton had given Lewinsky; Currie will store them in her own apartment. Days later, Clinton talks with Lewinsky about the affidavit, and, though never telling her to lie or withhold evidence, suggests a few ways that she can "be evasive" about their affair. Clinton's casual attitude towards her upcoming testimony suggests that he believes Lewinsky will protect both him and herself during her statement.
- According to authors Joe Conason and Gene Lyons, Clinton's failure to tell his own lawyers the truth about his affair with Lewinsky is almost "cocksure" in its casualness. "Moral considerations aside, how could anybody so smart be so dumb?" they ask. Clinton seems confident that despite all of its trolling, Kenneth Starr's OIC hasn't succeeded in picking up any fresh dirt about his sexual history -- possibly because, outside of his affair with Lewinsky, there really isn't any to find, Kathleen Willey's unbelievable story aside. He isn't worried about anything the now-infamous and thoroughly discredited Arkansas state troopers can tell Starr. And he and his lawyers both feel that the Jones lawsuit is coming apart at the seams. Jones's own deposition, given on November 12, was incoherent and contradictory, and the other Jones witnesses are proven to be liars or worse (see the entry for that date above). Clinton and his lawyers feel sure that the Jones case is coming apart so fast that Lewinsky will never be asked to testify. Better, Judge Wright seems angered and offended by the amount and salacious, false detail of the leaks coming from the prosecution in violation of her gag order. They feel that Wright is ready to dismiss the case. The plan now is to keep Lewinsky under wraps, be careful in Clinton's own upcoming deposition, and let the case self-destruct. Clinton will have won a powerful victory over his enemies, and Hillary Clinton will never have to know about Monica Lewinsky. (Clinton Impeachment Timeline, Joe Conason and Gene Lyons)
- Late December: Kenneth Starr's OIC, having given up on any chance of indicting the Clintons over Whitewater or Madison Guaranty, refocuses its investigation completely on Clinton's sex life. Starr apparently doesn't care that he has no legal authority whatsoever to conduct such an investigation. To that end, the OIC hires a new associate, Paul Rosenzweig, who had for a time considered joining the covert Paula Jones legal advisory team known as "the elves." Rosenzweig comes highly recommended, by "elves" Richard Porter and Jerome Marcus, who begin funnelling highly confidential legal information from the Jones lawsuit to the OIC -- again, in direct violation of the law. (Joe Conason and Gene Lyons)