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Clinton responds to ethics complaint

April 28, 2000
Web posted at: 5:04 p.m. EDT (2104 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- In documents filed Friday, President Bill Clinton claimed he did nothing wrong in the course of the Paula Jones sexual harassment lawsuit, and he argued against a move by a legal foundation that seeks to have him disbarred in his home state of Arkansas.

The documents were filed during the day Friday in response to a complaint that sought to revoke Clinton's license to practice law in Arkansas, according to the conservative foundation that earlier filed the action with the Arkansas Supreme Court Committee on Professional Conduct.

Matthew Glavin, president of the Atlanta-based Southeastern Legal Foundation, described Clinton's 85-page response as a "pathetic attempt to defend the indefensible."

Details of that response were not made available.

The foundation has seven days to respond to the president's filing.

"In that response, we will make it clear that the case for disbarment is stronger than ever," Glavin said in a statement.

Glavin's group has accused Clinton of making false statements and obstructing the legal process in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case. He should be disbarred for such conduct, the foundation argues.

After the Arkansas Supreme Court Committee staff receives the foundation's response, they will send the original complaint and each side's responses to the seven committee members. Glavin said the members are expected to issue a decision about Clinton's law license by their regularly scheduled meeting on May 18 -- but they could choose to release their decision earlier.

The committee could clear Clinton or recommend sanctions ranging from a mild caution to a disbarment proceeding in circuit court. From there, a case could be appealed to the state Supreme Court.

Under Arkansas' bar rules, the president's response is confidential unless he chooses to waive this privilege. He has not. The foundation has waived confidentiality for its materials, but cannot make public its copy of Clinton's response.

"If he is so convinced of his innocence, why not let this be public?" Glavin said.

"We have no intention of putting it on the public record," said White House press secretary Joe Lockhart during his regular briefing with reporters on Friday.

When asked why not make the filing public, Lockhart said, "Because ... the bar has set this up with a set of procedures and we're going to follow them."

 
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