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Kramerbooks declares victory in subpoena battle

Phillip Taylor
First Amendment Center

06.22.98

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Owners of Kramerbooks & afterwords say they won't be forced to turn over Monica Lewinsky's purchase records to Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr.

"The independent counsel has agreed to the terms of an agreement brokered by Kramerbooks' legal defense team," store owners said in today's announcement. "Kramerbooks has consistently defended the privacy and First Amendment rights of its customers."

Spokespeople for both Kramerbooks and the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression declined to comment further until a press conference Tuesday at 11 a.m. EDT at the bookstore.

Although specific details won't be disclosed until tomorrow, the agreement comes two weeks after a federal judge ruled that records from a Washington, D.C., Barnes & Noble bookstore were irrelevant to Starr's investigation of President Clinton.

U.S. District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson said she wouldn't force the bookstore to turn over records to Starr because "the court finds that none of the material submitted by Barnes & Noble falls within the zone of compelling interest."

Until the agreement, Starr continued to seek records from Kramerbooks.

Starr is investigating allegations that Clinton had a sexual relationship with the former White House intern and then, with the help of others, tried to cover it up. He argued he needed Lewinsky's purchase records from two Washington bookstores because Clinton testified in the Paula Jones lawsuit that Lewinsky gave him "a book or two."

According to sources familiar with Starr's investigation, prosecutors are trying to determine if Lewinsky's purchases included Nicholson Baker's novel about phone sex, Vox. Lewinsky received a copy of poet Walt Whitman's classic book Leaves of Grass from Clinton.

Kramerbooks' owners said they never turned over records to the court, noting in legal papers that the government should find less intrusive ways to get information before forcing the bookstore to reveal book purchases.

Related stories:

  • Starr subpoena lifted from 1 of 2 bookstores in Lewinsky case 6.8.98
  • Judge: Lewinsky book purchases are fair game for Starr 6.4.98

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