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Clinton Finishes Testimony In Paula Jones Case

Jones
Jones  

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Jan. 17) -- After providing more than four hours of sworn testimony in the sexual-harassment suit brought against him by Paula Jones, President Bill Clinton returned to the White House late Saturday afternoon.

Clinton's deposition -- the first time a sitting president has ever given testimony in a civil case in which he is the defendant -- began at about 10:30 a.m. EST in the office of his Washington lawyer, Robert Bennett, about 1 1/2 blocks from the White House. Jones attended the session.

After several hours of testimony, the parties took a break for lunch, then resumed. The president left the building just before 4:30 p.m.

Jones, a former clerical worker in Arkansas, claims that on May 8, 1991, while Clinton was Arkansas governor and she was a state employee, he invited her to a hotel room in Little Rock, exposed himself and asked that she perform oral sex. She said she rebuffed his request and subsequently suffered a hostile work environment.

Clinton has firmly rejected Jones' accusations and says he doesn't recall ever meeting Jones. But despite his denials, observers widely agree the case is an embarrassment to the White House.

The videotaped testimony Clinton gave Saturday is part of a federal trial scheduled to begin May 27. Both sides were ordered by presiding U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright of Arkansas not to discuss details of the deposition session.

Clinton
Clinton is the first sitting president to give a deposition as a defendant  

Jones, who arrived at Bennett's office amid a sea of reporters and cameras, seemed almost overwhelmed by the crush. She was hustled into the building by her lawyers and public relations adviser, Susan Carpenter-McMillan.

Carpenter-McMillan told reporters that Jones "feels great. She's not nervous."

"She wants to look across the table and look him right in the eye," Carpenter-McMillan said.

Clinton met with his legal team late into Friday evening to prepare for the deposition, which has already provided much fodder for jokes and cartoons lampooning the president's personal character.

White House spokesman Mike McCurry said Clinton viewed the matter as "a distraction but ... not a burdensome distraction." And Clinton maintained late last year, "It's not going to cause me any difficulty, because I'm going to do my job here."

Some pollsters say the public has not been paying much attention to the Jones case because they simply do not like that kind of story. Recent opinion polls seem to confirm that: Clinton is enjoying near-record job-approval ratings.

But not everybody agrees that the case won't be damaging.

"The world is going to be chortling. It will be front-page news in every city that has a free press. And it reflects on us. And I think we should be upset about it," said Stephen Hess of the Brookings Institution.

Both sides were believed to have been close to a settlement before Jones' previous attorneys, Joe Cammarata and Gilbert Davis, withdrew from her case in September. It was reported at the time that there was disagreement over whether Jones should accept a settlement offer of $700,000 and a statement from Clinton, saying she was a person of good character.

Jones is now seeking a settlement of $2 million and an apology from Clinton to avoid having the case go to trial.

CNN Correspondents Bob Franken and John King contributed to this report.

In Other News

Weekend Jan. 17 & 18, 1998

Jones' Lawyers Promise Aggressive Stance In Clinton Suit
Clinton Finishes Testimony In Paula Jones Case
Who Backs Paula Jones?
Clinton Testifies In Sexual-Harassment Suit





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