Jones v. Clinton finally settled
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, November 13) -- After fighting Paula Jones' sexual harassment lawsuit for four years, President Bill Clinton agreed Friday to pay Jones $850,000 to drop the case. But the deal includes no apology from the president.
The deal was struck after weeks of off-and-on-again negotiations, a lawyer intimately involved in the situation told CNN.
The out-of-court settlement seems to have split the difference between the latest offers from both sides; Most recently the president was offering $700,000 while the Jones team was insisting on $950,000.
Clinton's personal attorney Bob Bennett said in a statement released Friday that the president "remains certain that the plaintiff's claims are baseless." Even so, "The president has decided he is not prepared to spend one more hour on this matter," Bennett said.
"Nothing in this agreement shall be construed to be an admission of liability or wrongdoing by any party," Bennett said.
Jones' legal team is expected to announce the terms of the deal on Monday.
Though the agreement is something of a victory for Clinton because he doesn't have to admit to any wrongdoing, the Jones saga has cost the president dearly as it was Jones' investigation that brought Monica Lewinsky to public's attention.
Settling has taken on new urgency for the Clinton legal team because allegations that the president lied under oath about his relationship with the former White House intern during his sworn testimony in the Jones case is now a major element of the congressional impeachment debate.
There was also some pressure on Jones recently to settle as her attorneys had threatened to withdraw from the case once the appeals court rules on her case. Also, the Rutherford Institute, which has been financing Jones' lawsuit against the president, told Jones that at the end of the appeal it plans to stop paying the her legal bills.
The fate of New York real estate tycoon Abe Hirschfeld's offer of $1 million for Jones, on top of anything she collects from the president, for her to settle the case is unclear.
As part of the agreement, Jones lawyers have provided White House lawyers with a statement saying Jones disassociates herself with that offer and that Hirschfeld's money is not part of the settlement.
In a press conference Friday night, Bennett said one of the president's conditions was "one of which was assuring us in writing that Mr. Hirschfeld's money was off the table and was no part of any settlement," Bennett said. "And that and some other conditions were met and as a result we were able to reach a settlement."
It is unclear if the letter legally prohibits Jones from eventually accepting the money. According to the lawyer for real estate mogul Abe Hirschfeld, the $1 million offered to "get this lawsuit behind us" is still on the table.
Jones faces bills from several sources. Joseph Cammarata and Gilbert Davis, Jones' first lawyers, have filed a claim for $800,000 as compensation for their work, which included a trip to the Supreme Court.
Other interested parties include Jones' current Dallas-based lawyers, headed by Donovan Campbell and Jones' de-facto spokeswoman and adviser, Susan Carpenter-McMillan and her husband Bill.
Bennett said he did not know how much of the settlement money would go to pay Jones' past and present lawyers. "I understand Ms. Jones' legal fees are three or four million dollars, but that's not my problem," Bennett said. "That's problem they'll have to work out."
Jones, a former Arkansas state clerk, contends that she suffered from a "hostile work environment" and that her civil rights were violated in 1991 when she rejected a sexual advance from then-Gov. Clinton.
U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright in Little Rock, Arkansas, dismissed the Jones case by summary judgment on April 1, but attorneys for Jones asked a federal appeals court this fall to reinstate her case.
Jones claims that on May 9, 1991 the governor noticed her at the desk in the lobby of the Excelsior Hotel in Little Rock, where she was handing out name tags for a conference.
A state trooper next brought her to a private room at the hotel, according to Jones, where Clinton made a crude request for oral sex, in the process exposing himself to her.
The president has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
Jones kept quiet for more than two years about what she says happened in 1991.
Jones told her story for the first time in public at a February 11, 1994, press conference in Washington where she shared a stage with Clinton bashers -- helping to convince many that Jones was a tool, witting or unwitting, of Clinton haters.
What broke Jones' silence was an article in the January 1994 issue of American Spectator magazine that implied that someone called "Paula" had been a willing sexual conquest of Clinton's.
She filed suit May 6, 1994, almost exactly three years after the alleged encounter, and at the last possible moment under the relevant statutes of limitations.
Over the years the two sides have come close to a settlement but the main sticking point was always over how much Clinton would have to admit and apologize.
The case also established some important precedents, including the Supreme Court's decision that sitting president's could face a civil suit while in office. In a stunning 9-0 verdict, they ruled the Jones case could proceed.
Friday, November 13, 1998
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