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Thursday, September 10, 1998 Published at 11:55 GMT 12:55 UK

Grand jury - grand costs

An expensive date for the president

The Kenneth Starr investigations have cost US taxpayers more than $40m over the past four years. As the BBC's Claire Bolderson reports, they have cost members of Bill Clinton's staff dearly too.

When President Clinton testifies before a grand jury investigating his alleged affair with Monica Lewinsky, probably the only people who know what he is going to say to the jury are his lawyers.

If the president talks to members of his staff about the case, they risk being subpoenaed by Mr Starr who has been looking into several areas of the president's life and allegations that he has been covering up alleged past wrong-doings.

[ image: Monica Lewinsky after giving evidence to the grand jury]
Monica Lewinsky after giving evidence to the grand jury
The office of the independent prosecutor, as Mr Starr is known, says it cannot divulge how many members of the White House staff have been summoned to testify in the course of Mr Starr's four-year investigation.

But journalists only have to watch the comings and goings at the courthouse to establish that a steady procession of White House employees has appeared.

About 15 gave evidence before the jury looking into the Monica Lewinsky allegations and at least that many again at the various other juries convened by Mr Starr in the course of his various investigations.

And for everybody close to the president summoned to give evidence, there is a lawyer - sometimes two or three - on hand to give advice.

Heavy debt

The amounts charged by lawyers in Washington are high - $350 an hour is a common fee and the bills are starting to add up.

[ image: Mr Clinton's lawyer David Kendall does not come cheap]
Mr Clinton's lawyer David Kendall does not come cheap
According to one former aide to Mr Clinton, a single appearance before the grand jury can mean $10,000 in legal fees.

As a result, many current and former White House employees are now heavily in debt - even though they have not been accused of anything.

A former member of Hillary Clinton's staff is paying off a bill of more than $300,000 and an ex-member of Mr Clinton's team owes nearly that much to his lawyers.

Several White House staffers have had to leave the administration and look for more lucrative jobs and there are reports that Mr Clinton is finding it difficult to replace them.

The president himself may yet end up fighting to keep his own job - and when he does leave the White House he will have to find new, high paying work.

The Clintons owe their lawyers more than $3m and the investigation is not over yet.

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