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Paula Jones challenges Clinton to debate

Says he lies in new book in denying harassment

Paula Jones talks to CNN on Tuesday.
Impeachment does not necessarily mean removal from office; it is only a formal statement of charges, akin to an indictment in criminal law, and is thus only the first step toward removal. Bill Clinton was impeached; he was not removed from office.
Bill Clinton
Monica S. Lewinsky
Paula Jones

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Paula Jones, the former Arkansas state employee whose sexual harassment suit against President Clinton helped trigger his impeachment, is challenging him to debate her publicly after he again denied harassing her in his new best-selling memoir.

"God, I and he knows what he did," Jones told CNN on Tuesday.

"Bill Clinton has a very big problem with telling the truth, and I think most of the American people know that.

"I'm not afraid of debating him because I know what happened, happened. He says it didn't happen, but it did happen," she said.

"I'm not embarrassed or ashamed to be out and meet him eye-to-eye and tell him he knows he did what he did to me. But Bill Clinton would never agree to something like that."

In her suit, filed in 1994, Jones alleged that in May 1991, when Clinton was governor of Arkansas and she was a state employee, he groped her and exposed his genitals while they were alone in a Little Rock hotel room.

Clinton denied any wrongdoing.

When he was ordered by a federal judge to submit to a deposition from Jones' lawyers, he appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, which refused to delay the case in 1997.

It was during the Jones deposition that Clinton was asked under oath about former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. His denial of a sexual relationship with her triggered an investigation that led to his impeachment by the House on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.

Clinton eventually admitted to an "inappropriate" relationship with Lewinsky. He stayed in office after he was acquitted of the impeachment charges by the Senate.

Jones and Clinton settled their lawsuit in November 1998, when he agreed to pay her $850,000 but offered no apology or admission of guilt.

At the time, the suit had been dismissed by a federal judge, but Jones was challenging the dismissal on appeal.

In his new book, "My Life," Clinton again denies harassing Jones. Expressing confidence that he would have won the case, he said he decided to settle the suit to put the scandal behind him.

But Jones said if Clinton really believed he would have won in court, "Why didn't he take it all the way?" She said she believes she would have eventually won her suit.

"Nothing bothers this man," she said. "I don't understand it."

Other women in Clinton's life

Two other women who figured prominently in allegations swirling around Clinton's personal behavior, Lewinsky and Gennifer Flowers, have also disputed the former president's descriptions of their relationships in his book.

During the 1992 campaign, Flowers publicly disclosed that she had a 12-year affair with Clinton. He later admitted to an extramarital relationship with her but, in his book, insists "there was no 12-year affair."

That prompted Flowers to issue a statement through her lawyer saying she was "sickened by his continued disregard for the truth."

"Bill Clinton pretends to be contrite, but he continues to bear false witness against his neighbor. He is a national disgrace."

In an interview with the British newspaper The Daily Mail, Lewinsky also took issue with Clinton's characterizations of their relationship, including his statement that he had an affair with her because he could.

"He talked about it as though I had laid it all out there for the taking. I was the buffet, and he just couldn't resist the dessert. That's not how it was. This was a mutual relationship, mutual on all levels," she said. (Full story)

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