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Jones' lawyer confirms settlement talks underway with Clinton attorneys

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, September 25) -- Lawyers for President Bill Clinton are negotiating with Paula Jones' attorneys on a possible monetary settlement of Jones' sexual harassment lawsuit, one of her lawyers said Friday.

U.S. District Court Judge Susan Webber Wright dismissed the Jones case April 1, but Jones is appealing to have it reinstated.

In her ruling Judge Wright said Jones' assertions, even if true, "fall far short of the rigorous standards for establishing a claim of outrage under Arkansas law."

Judge Susan Webber Wright  

Negotiations began several days ago when one of Clinton's lawyer contacted a member of Jones' legal team, says John Whitehead, the head of the Rutherford Institute. The Rutherford Institute has provided legal support for Jones.

Whitehead, interviewed on CNN, would not confirm or deny reports that Clinton lawyers had offered to pay Jones $500,000, but that Jones was demanding $1 million. But Whitehead did say it would be "a substantial amount."

Jones has dropped her demand for an apology from Clinton, Whitehead said, because the financial settlement would amount to "a tacit admission" from Clinton that he tried to solicit sex from her in a Little Rock hotel room in 1991 while he was governor of Arkansas. Jones was a state employee at the time.

"We do believe that if there is a substantial monetary settlement, it would go against what the president said that the case was bogus," Whitehead said.

Whitehead said he believed the revelations of the Starr report and the possibility Clinton could be cited for contempt by the judge in the Jones case have helped bring the Clinton lawyers to the bargaining table.

Jones' legal team has filed a motion asking that Clinton be cited for contempt because he has admitted giving misleading answers in his January 17 deposition in the Jones case. During that deposition Clinton denied under oath that he had sexual relations with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

Paula Jones  

Clinton maintains he was legally accurate in his Jones case testimony when he denied sexual relations with Lewinsky.

Whitehead said talks between Clinton and Jones lawyers would likely continue through the weekend.

"We've got to be satisfied and so far we are not satisfied," he said.

Jones claims Clinton had her brought to a hotel room by a state trooper during a conference and that he dropped his trousers and asked her to perform a sex act. She says her refusal affected her treatment on the job afterwards.

Sources told CNN the possibility of a settlement was raised recently during conversations in relation to Jones' appeal of the federal court's decision dismissing her claim.

According to the sources, after a summer of Lewinsky disclosures, Clinton lawyer Robert Bennett and Jones' legal team began exploring possible settlement terms.

"The calls were made before Starr's referral," said one source.

Two weeks ago, Independent Counsel Ken Starr sent Congress a report on possible impeachable activities by the president involving the Lewinsky affair.

One source said a settlement was being considered because the prospect of the Jones case being reinstated was one of the potential legal worries Clinton faces as he tries to avoid impeachment.

There have been settlement offers in the past, but they have fallen through. The most recent was for $700,000, but it was rejected by Jones, who insisted on an apology from the president.


Lawyers wrangle over fees in Jones' case (5-27-98)

Clinton, Paula Jones to sup at White House gala (4-25-98)


Friday, September 25, 1998

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