- Washington - The Paula Jones sexual
harassment case returned to haunt President Clinton today when a federal
judge found him in contempt of court for lying under oath about Monica
- Judge Susan Webber Wright ruled the president
in contempt for 'willful failure' to obey her repeated orders to testify
- "The record demonstrates by clear
and convincing evidence that the president responded to plaintiffs' questions
by giving false, misleading and evasive answers that were designed to obstruct
the judicial process."
- In the civil contempt finding, Judge
Susan Webber Wright ruled Clinton will have to cover at least some of Jones'
legal costs. The contempt issue was first raised last September, when Wright
aired her 'concerns' about Clinton's deposition in the Jones case, during
which he denied having had a sexual relationship with Lewinsky.
- In the deposition, Clinton said flatly,
"I have never had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky."
- Wright wrote in her ruling that, "It
is difficult to construe the president's sworn statements ... as anything
other than a willful refusal to obey this court's discovery orders."
- "Simply put, the president's deposition
testimony regarding whether he had ever been alone with Ms. Lewinsky was
intentionally false and his statements regarding whether he had ever engaged
in sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky likewise were intentionally false."
- Consideration of the contempt issue was
put off during Clinton's impeachment trial, which also centered around
the president's handling of the Lewinsky affair. But shortly after the
Senate acquitted Clinton, Wright hinted in the footnote of another ruling
that she would take steps "to preserve the integrity of the Court's
proceedings and provide a means of enforcement of its orders."
- Wright, one of Clinton's former law students,
tossed Jones' suit out of court last April. Jones appealed the ruling,
but agreed to settle after Clinton offered to pay $850,000.
- Jones alleged that, while she worked
as an Arkansas state employee in 1991, then-Gov. Clinton dropped his pants
and asked her to perform oral sex upon him in a Little Rock hotel room.
Clinton denied the accusations and has attacked the case as politically
- Ironically, it was the defunct Jones
case that first uncovered Clinton's relationship with Lewinsky and led
later to his impeachment.
- White House producer Josh Gerstein contributed
to this report.