- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 13, 2000

The contempt trial of independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr's former spokesman begins today in Washington, with the government expected to accuse Charles G. Bakaly III of misleading a federal judge about his role in leaks in the Monica Lewinsky investigation.

Mr. Bakaly was named last week on criminal contempt charges of making false statements on three occasions in a sworn declaration about a Jan. 31, 1999, New York Times story that quoted "several associates of Mr. Starr" saying an indictment of President Clinton could be brought before he leaves office in January 2001.

He also was accused of causing the Independent Counsel's Office to make a false statement in its filing with the court about suspected news leaks from the Starr office for the New York Times article.

The government's case is expected to center on accusations that Mr. Bakaly misled U.S. District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson concerning help he gave to the New York Times for the January 1999 article and on accusations that he later "changed some of the details of his story" concerning his contact with the newspaper when confronted 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," the Justice Department prosecutors said in a pretrial brief.

The government said it will call as witnesses two former prosecutors in Mr. Starr's office and three FBI agents to show Mr. Bakaly misled the court when he signed a sworn statement saying he had "refused to confirm or comment" on what the independent counsel's office "was thinking or doing."

In their brief, government prosecutors said Mr. Bakaly told the FBI to whom Mr. Starr had sent an internal investigation of the matter by his office as part of a criminal referral that he may have "unwittingly" and "inadvertently" confirmed information to the reporter and "was in fact" one of the unnamed associates quoted at times in the story.

Mr. Bakaly, in his pretrial brief, denied making false statements about the New York Times article, saying the Independent Counsel's Office revised the comments during the internal probe. In the brief, he said the contempt complaint was based on the amended statements, which he said were altered against his wishes.

He argued that none of his three statements now being challenged by the government was false, but that if the court believes they were, he was "not responsible for and did not cause that falseness."

Mr. Bakaly also charged that Mr. Starr's prosecutors narrowed his sworn account of his role in the New York Times piece before the document was filed with the court. He also said Mr. Star'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.

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 fax an internal document describing Watergate-era arguments about indicting a president.

Mr. Bakaly said he told the Independent Counsel's Office 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 case. A federal appeals court panel tossed out such charges in September.

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