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He Won't, She Will

Clinton's attorneys back off threats to dredge up Paula Jones' sexual history, but her lawyers may delve into the president's past

faceoff

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, June 5) -- Attorneys for President Bill Clinton now say they will not make Paula Jones' sexual history an issue in her lawsuit against the president, but Jones' lawyers are affording Clinton no such luxury.

Over the weekend, Clinton attorney Robert Bennett outraged women's groups and others who interpreted a comment he made as a threat to damage Jones' reputation by dredging up her sexual past. But in an interview with CNN Wednesday night, Bennett said his comments were "terribly distorted."

"What is absolutely accurate is that if Paula Jones insists with going to trial in this case," Bennett said, "we will go after her reputation. But that does not mean that we are going to go after her personal sex life.

"I want to categorically state to you that it has never been our intention to go into Paula Jones' sex life in this case. If she puts her reputation at issue, we certainly intend to attack her veracity," Bennett said.

But Gilbert Davis, an attorney for Jones, refuses to rule out any legal tactic and says that his team will go after Clinton's sexual past if it will help win the case.

"You can't take away a way to prove your case," Davis said on ABC's "Good Morning America" program today.

Davis also said that he is "skeptical" of Bennett's clarification. "[Bennett] said, 'We're not going to talk about Paula's promiscuity.' And this is saying, 'I'm talking about it now, but I'm not really going to talk about it,'" Davis said.

"I'm very skeptical of what they do," Davis said, adding, "There is no intimidation that is going to be swaying us in moving forward on this case."

The White House was also uneasy with Bennett's earlier comments, as women's groups have been longtime allies of the Clinton-Gore team.

White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry was quick to note Wednesday that the president had signed into law a provision to make it more difficult to explore the sexual histories of alleged victims of sexual harassment. "That's a significant statement," McCurry said.

Bennett made the same point. "Look, this president has done more for women than any president in the history of our country, and I'm not about to do anything in this case to undercut that," he said.

Bennett did reveal in his CNN interview that his legal team had interviewed a former employer of Jones' who approached them. "He was a former employer of hers and gave us very relevant information about her employment and her employment habits, and why he was required to discharge her," Bennett explained. But he declined to say if they discussed questions about her sexual history.