PALO ALTO [Nov. 27, 1997]- President Clinton's Secret Service agents searched the apartment of a student columnist for Cal's Daily Californian who wrote a satirical Big Game column mentioning Chelsea Clinton that appeared in the school paper lat week.
The 22-year-old Senior student columnist, Guy Branum, said
yesterday that the agents had told him the search and investigation
were initiated by an angry Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Branum told reporters that he was still 'scared' after the
un-announced early Monday morning search of his off-campus apartment near the University in Berkeley.
Branum's pre-Big Game column was published in the independent,
student-run newspaper on Thursday. It contained a Stanford University
dormitory address allegedly where Chelsea Clinton then lived.
Barnum said that the two Clinton Secret Service agents at his apartment door '...had copies of my column, and they said Mrs. Clinton had been irate and had gotten very upset after seeing it in USA Today.'
Branum, who stood by his column but disclosed that he has published an apology Friday. He also produced a tape recording he made during the search by the two agents. On the tape, one of the voices, depicted by Barnum as Secret Service agent Chris Von Holt from the San Jose office, can be heard saying '...What happened is Mrs. Clinton turned to one of her agents and
yelled what the f--- is going on . . . and he called me and said,
Jesus, let's get out and talk to this gentleman!'
Incidentally, Hillary Clinton had arrived in San Jose on Monday. When she was spotted by reporters, she refused to respond to shouted questions about the column incident. Clinton aides declined comment.
Special Agent, Arnette Heintze, in Washington, D.C., denied that Clinton had anything to do with initiating the investigation.
However, he did admit the Secret Service is required by law to investigate '...whenever anybody makes a comment like this.'
Heintze would not confirmed there was an investigation. But, he did comment 'I would ask you to question this gentleman's motives in all this...'
To make matters worse, UC Berkeley officials acknowledged they had helped the Secret Service in contacting Branum at his apartment.
Sources on campus there report the two Clinton Secret Service agents bullied Branum to coerce his 'permission' to search the apartment after telling him they would otherwise hold him while getting a search warrant, Branum told reporters.
The pair then lectured Barnum about an earlier editorial column
in which Barnum referred to the president Bill Clinton as Sexual Predator-in-Chief which Von Holt then referred to as a '...low blow.' Branum contends.
The agent whom Branum identified as Von Holt reportedly told him 'I want to make sure you don't have any weapons or any of the stuff you see on
TV that actually happens in apartments, like a big picture of Chelsea
with a big `X' in blood on it.'
They instructed Branum to stay home from work at the student newspaper for the day, except during his scheduled class hours, which they had obtained from the university, Branum said.
Before leaving the Secret Service agents demanded that he sign a
waiver giving the Secret Service access to his confidential medical records, including any pertaining to mental health, Barnum said.
Branum defends his op-ed piece as an obvious satire within the bounds
of a columnist's prerogative and clearly within his freedom of expression, speech and publication rights.
He said of Chelsea Clinton, '...She is a public figure, and satire of public figures is something the Supreme Court has shown a lot of leniency toward. The column was about Stanford; the emphasis wasn't on Chelsea.
...It was simply mocking the reverential treatment of Stanford and
some of its students.'