IN WAKE OF JONES DISMISSAL, A NEW FOCUS FOR STARR
WASHINGTON, April 1 (Associated Press)--In the wake of the dismissal of the Paula Jones
sexual-harassment lawsuit, Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr is focusing his investigation
on allegations that President Clinton and members of the White House staff regularly drink
red wine with fish, according to sources close to the investigation.
The latest allegations arise out of confidential results of tests performed by the FBI Crime
lab on a dress seized during a search of the Watergate apartment of former White House intern
Monica S. Lewinsky, the sources added.
After weeks of conflicting reports about the test results, the sources confirmed that they
"definitely indicate" the presence of tannins "consistent with full-bodied domestic red wines
such as Merlot or Zinfandel."
If confirmed, the results would contradict earlier White House reports that any red wine
consumed with fish by staffers was "a light Beaujolais Nouveau," a wine some legal experts
had considered acceptable with steakier fish such as wasabi-crust charcoal-grilled yellow-fin
"Of course these are only allegations," Sen. John Ashcroft, R-Mo., said in reaction to
published reports about the course of Starr's investigation. "They are, however, extremely
serious. I suggest that the President tell the American people the facts, and then step down
and report to Allenwood Penitentiary until the matter can be fully resolved with the
inauguration of a Republican president."
White House press secretary Mike McCurry refused comment on the investigation, and privately
White House staffers dismissed the possibility that the new charges could lead to impeachment
proceedings. Republican staffers on Capitol Hill, however, insisted that the charges have the
potential to breathe new life into both the impeachment drive and the independent counsel's
"We're not talking about some cheesy savings & loan fraud here," one Congressional veteran
noted. "These charges go to the heart of our foreign policy. Imagine what this will do to
relations with Britain and France." University of Illinois Law Professor Ronald Rotunda, a
consultant to Starr's office, said that the legal questions would focus on the appropriateness
of the specific varietal grape. In addition, he noted that the report of tannins suggested that
"the President has been drinking wine before its time, a statutory offense in California."
Rotunda added that the probe is complicated by allegations of a cover-up. "What did the
President drink and when did he drink it? And why has the White House resisted disclosure for
Starr's office had no official comment on the reports today. But sources close to the
prosecutor confirmed that he had subpoenaed White House wine steward Jacques Clouzeau,
ordering him to produce records of wines consumed and corresponding menus.
Today's WASHINGTON POST reported that the White House has told the prosecutor's office that
some of the menus cannot be found. The missing records apparently relate to wine consumed by
the First Lady Hillary Clinton.