Six years ago, you couldn't read a paper or turn on a TV without seeing Monica Lewinsky. She's been out of the public eye in recent years. Her legal battles, for the most part, behind her. But now a current legal case has struck a chord: the Kobe Bryant case.
Bryant's attorneys have subpoenaed the alleged victim‘s mother to testify. This news brings up unpleasant memories for Monica Lewinsky.
In 1998, Monica Lewinsky's own mother, Marcia Lewis, was subpoenaed to appear before a Washington grand jury convened by independent counsel Ken Starr. The experience “horrified and sickened her.” She became an advocate for legislation to create a parent-child privilege that would prevent any parent or child from being forced to testify against the other, similar to the attorney-client or husband-wife privilege. Monica even wrote an op-ed piece for the “Los Angeles Times” on the subject.
Read her intervivew with Dan Abrams, below:
MONICA LEWINSKY: We didn‘t have this privilege in the country in 1998, and I found that after five years, and it still wasn‘t in place. Having the opportunity to express myself, I wanted to try and make people more aware of it.
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Were you shocked when you first found out back in ‘98 that your mother could be called to testify effectively against you?
LEWINSKY: Completely. I mean I think that‘s one of the things I‘ve learned, that rather than people just being apathetic to the issue, most people are unaware that we are not protected. Our relationships with our parents, our parents‘ relationships with us are not protected.
ABRAMS: Take me back to that moment when you first found out that your mother can be called to testify against you. Do you remember how you found out and what you felt?
LEWINSKY: Well, actually I found out well before most people knew this was going to be public, because it was January 16, and I had spent 11 hours with FBI, so, when they finally let us go home, you know, we both left with subpoenas, so...
ABRAMS: And did you say to her, mom, wait a sec. They can subpoena you to testify about this business with me?
LEWINSKY: At that moment, no, because that had been a pretty surreal already. But I think when I finally came to realize that that the things I had shared with my mom, even that they weren‘t detailed and very pertinent to the case—that they could use her as a pawn. It was unbelievable to me. I mean it was really quite barbaric and then it went further.
Because as they tried to sort of pressure me more, it was the threat of subpoenaing my father, and I think what it also means in a broader sense, people can‘t discuss legal situations with their parents. You can‘t walk out of having a parent present if you‘re getting legal counsel or vice versa, you know if you‘re a child and your parent is older, you can‘t do that either.
ABRAMS: And this is now something that you and many other people have seen happen in the Kobe Bryant case, except in the Kobe Bryant case it‘s the defense subpoenaing a mom to come in and testify with regard to daughter.
ABRAMS: Has that sort of spurred memory in you? How do you feel about that when you see that in the Kobe Bryant case?
LEWINSKY: I guess it strikes a chord. And it just saddens me that that is still something that can happen in this country, that there has not been federal, legal protection for this relationship.
ABRAMS: Do you remember seeing in the Kobe Bryant case hearing for the first time, oh they‘re making mom come in?
LEWINSKY: I do. I had some of my friends call and e-mail. There was a sense of uproar among us as well. It is in a country where we all value the family relationship and family values are supposed to be high on the list, I can‘t quite understand why Congress has yet to pass and form this privilege.
ABRAMS: As you point out in your op-ed piece, the Department of Justice guidelines discourage people from calling a mother, a parent or a child or a child against a parent. Is this enough?
LEWINSKY: Obviously not. There have been instances before 1998 and there have continued to be instances since ’98. I think the guidelines are too lax. The judicial branch of government has said that it‘s the legislative branch‘s job to determine whether or not this should be a privilege, and actually Congressman Andrews has put forth a bill for the past several years and it just continues to sit in committee.
ABRAMS: I agree with you. Look, I think if there‘s a husband-wife privilege, which there is, it‘s hard to justify not having a parent-child privilege as well. Let me ask you about a separate issue and that is legal fees. You spent a lot of money on lawyers in the context of all of your battling with Ken Starr and the rest of the associated issues and there‘s recently been a ruling with regard to that. Tell me what happened.
LEWINSKY: Right. Well it was the last day of last year, so it kind of went under the radar, but I was completely denied any reimbursement, which when you‘re investigated by an independent counsel, you are by statute allowed to apply for the reimbursement and they said that I didn‘t fall into that category, I didn‘t fit the legal term.
ABRAMS: Because you weren‘t the target.
LEWINSKY: No, I was the target and they, I think they agreed to that, I think when it says U.S. v. Lewinsky...
LEWINSKY: ... you can‘t get more target than that, but I believe that their thought was they would spend the same amount on any perjury case like this. You may note the sarcasm in my voice. So...
ABRAMS: It was frustrating for you to hear that.
LEWINSKY: Well, it was quite devastating, actually. Because while I had heard from numerous people that you normally don‘t receive everything that you had applied to receive or applied for, and you usually get 30 cents to the dollar. I certainly had counted on getting a few hundred thousand dollars back and we all know $100,000, at least, is a lot of money and that‘s quite a pinch in the pocketbook.
ABRAMS: How are you doing in general? How has life been for Monica Lewinsky?
LEWINSKY: Interesting. I think that having had a little bump in the road, I guess, at age 24, which is right when everybody is really trying to find their path. It’s made my journey very colorful and some doors are closed to me, others are open, and it—I‘m not sure where I‘m at yet, but I‘ll keep you posted.
ABRAMS: Monica Lewinsky, thank you for taking the time to come on the program. Appreciate it.