The Washington Post leads with Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr’s investigation into allegations that President Clinton suborned perjury by a former White House intern. A three-judge panel, reported both the Post and Los Angeles Times, has authorized Starr to explore charges that Clinton and his close friend Vernon Jordan persuaded the intern, Monica Lewinsky, to deny that she had had a year-and-a-half-long affair with the president after she had detailed the relationship in 10 conversations with Linda Tripp. Tripp, a colleague at the Pentagon where Lewinsky later worked, recorded the conversations surreptitiously and reportedly turned the tapes over to Starr. Both Clinton and Lewinsky denied the affair in sworn depositions in the Paula Jones case. Clinton lawyer, Robert Bennett called the story “ridiculous” and told the Post he “smelled a rat.” Neither Bennett nor White House officials would comment on whether Clinton had discussed her testimony with her.
The Clinton/Netanyahu talks lead at the New York Times. USA Today goes with the finding that Theodore Kacszynski is legally competent to stand trial, which is also the top national story at the LAT.
The WP reports that President Clinton, who will meet with Yassir Arafat on Thursday, is getting into an unusual amount of detail in the latest Mideast talks.
The WP reports that before the two leaders broached substantive matters, they made an attempt to clear the air about their own troubled relationship. Netanyahu complained about being snubbed by Clinton on a prior visit to the U.S., and Clinton chided him for meeting with Jerry Falwell the other day, noting that Falwell has distributed videos suggesting that Clinton may have been complicit in a murder. The NYT, in its lead, says that administration officials were “furious” about the Falwell rendezvous. The Post reports that Netanyahu presented Clinton with a stack of gross images of Jews and Israelis from Arab newspapers.
The LAT reports that the two leaders met again last night but also states that the long talks have thus far failed to restart the deadlocked Middle East peace process.
Besides the court-appointed psychiatrist’s finding that Kacszynski can stand trial, the papers also pass along indications that she found him to be mentally ill. USAT quotes an AP story saying that in her eyes he’s a paranoid schizophrenic, and the NYT says that she concluded he “actually does resort to violence against those individuals and organizations that he believes are hurting him.” Most of the dailies hint at the possibility of renewed plea bargaining now, with USAT stating flatly that this is underway. Prompted by the recent murder of a NYC plainclothes officer during a drug bust, the NYT has an informative take-out on undercover work, which points out that about twice a month a NYC undercover officer is shot during a buy, and five or six times a month, one is forced at gunpoint by dealers to use coke or heroin. The story adds that about 70 percent of the city’s undercover cops are black or Hispanic. Both the LAT and NYT report in front-page stories that Cuba is reaping a financial windfall from the Pope’s visit. The LAT estimates that tourists and media types will pump an extra $25 million into the local economy. And the NYT reports that hotel prices have recently doubled and that the government has come up with such extras as a $1,000 licensing fee for each satellite phone brought in by the networks. Additionally, Cuban state television is charging each visiting TV outfit a $100,000 fee for the live video feed of the Pope’s activities.
The WSJ reports that State Farm is suing Ford and one of its suppliers, alleging that the car company concealed ignition switch defects that led to car fires and millions in insurance claims. (This story is also on the NYT front.)
The on-off-on again decision of the National Holocaust Museum to invite Arafat for a look-see while he’s in D.C. generates an uncommon amount of opinion at the WP. Sure, invite him, says columnist Jim Hoagland. Absolutely not, counters columnist Charles Krauthammer. The paper’s editorial on the matter says it all, though: “Very few people tour [the museum] and come away unmoved and unchanged. Perhaps Mr. Arafat would be one of those rare exceptions. But what would be lost by taking that chance?”
The NYT editorial page is likewise on the mark in its discussion of whether in light of the Guatemalan student rapes, American college excursions should be curtailed, pointing out that such enriching experiences are probably not as rape-risky as fraternity parties.