- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 11, 2000

Kenneth W. Starr's onetime spokesman yesterday denied making false statements about his role in a January 1999 news story on the Monica Lewinsky investigation, saying prosecutors in the Office of Independent Counsel revised the statements during an internal probe.

Charles G. Bakaly III, in a pretrial brief filed in U.S. District Court, said a criminal contempt charge brought against him last week by the Justice Department over a Jan. 31, 1999, article in the New York Times was based on the amended statements, which he said were altered against his wishes.

Mr. Bakaly's attorneys argued that none of his three statements now being challenged by the Justice Department was false, but that if the court believes they were, "Mr. Bakaly is not responsible for and did not cause that falseness."

He charged that Mr. Starr's prosecutors narrowed his sworn account of his role in the New York Times piece which quoted "several associates of Mr. Starr" saying an indictment of President Clinton could be brought before he leaves office in January 2001 before the document was filed with the court.

He also charged that the Independent Counsel's Office refused his request to make his statement more detailed and accurate because it wanted to keep the information from Mr. Clinton's personal attorney, David E. Kendall.

The former spokesman also said Mr. Starr's office told him they left out relevant information because they wanted "to provide the minimum amount of information while fully complying with what was required," according to the brief.

Mr. Bakaly faces trial beginning Thursday on the contempt charge, which accuses him of making false statements on three occasions in a sworn declaration and causing the Independent Counsel's Office to make a fourth false statement in its filing concerning the news leak.

He acknowledged in the brief talking with the Times reporter about the story before its publication, but said he sought to dissuade him from running it. He also said he sent the reporter by facsimile an internal document describing Watergate-era arguments about indicting a president.

Mr. Bakaly said he told prosecutors in the Independent Counsel's Office that he had sent the document, but they authored a statement on his behalf saying it was a compilation of Watergate-era documents.

He said his request that the statement be changed was ignored.

The contempt charge does not accuse Mr. Bakaly of improperly leaking grand jury information in the Lewinsky probe. A federal appeals court panel ruled in September 1999 that statements in the Times article did not violate grand jury secrecy rules.

The panel unanimously threw out contempt charges against Mr. Starr's office, which had been sought by U.S. District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson.

Also yesterday, prosecutors filed their list of witnesses, which said they would call two former lawyers for Mr. Starr's office and three FBI agents to show Mr. Bakaly initially misled the special prosecutor's office.

Prosecutors said the former Starr spokesman withheld information from Mr. Starr's office and only later "changed some of the details of his story" when interviewed by FBI agents.

"As a result of Bakaly's false and misleading statements and representations … proceedings in this court … were delayed and unnecessary work and costs were incurred," prosecutors wrote in their pretrial brief arguing why Mr. Bakaly should stand trial.

The Independent Counsel's Office, now headed by Robert W. Ray, declined comment yesterday on the Bakaly filing.

Meanwhile, Mr. Bakaly gained the support of the Democrats' chief counsel on the House Judiciary Committee.

Julian Epstein described the Bakaly prosecution as "terrible" and a "semantical game of gotcha" since the appeals court panel had already determined the New York Times story was not covered by grand jury secrecy rules.

"There is no real underlying offense here," Mr. Epstein said.

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