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Gavel To Gavel

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Gavel To Gavel: Fund-Raising Hearings

Burden of Proof

President Clinton Poses Questions to Paula

Aired July 10, 1997 - 12:30 a.m. ET

ROGER COSSACK, HOST (voice-over): President Clinton has responded to Paula Jones' claims and now has some questions for her. In his formal answer to Jones' complaint, Clinton denied sexually harassing Jones and says he doesn't even remember meeting her at a Little Rock hotel. Now, Clinton's lawyers are asking Jones some hard questions. They want to know what distinguishing characteristics she claims to have seen on the President's body. Meanwhile, there's a new player on Jones' team, a spokeswoman with some hard-hitting moves of her own.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SUSAN CARPENTER-McMILLAN, PAULA JONES' SPOKESWOMAN: You've got to realize that this is David versus Goliath. Bill Clinton has all the money he wants in the world. Bill Bennett has already been paid $1-1/2 million. Who are his investigators? What have they been paid? How much money has he spent on this case?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSSACK: Today, on BURDEN OF PROOF, can a Little Rock lawsuit rattle the White House? Plus, can Senate Republicans dig a fund- raising hole to China and bury President Clinton in it?

ANNOUNCER (voice-over): This is BURDEN OF PROOF with Greta Van Susteren and Roger Cossack.

COSSACK: Hello, and welcome to BURDEN OF PROOF. Greta is off today. The battle between Paula Jones and Bill Clinton, though, is definitely on.

A battle is also shaping up on Capitol Hill where the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee is holding hearings into campaign finance abuses. In his opening remarks, Chairman Fred Thompson announced he had uncovered a sinister plot by the Chinese government to influence last year's elections. He also indicated the key role of former chief Democratic fund raiser John Huang.

Joining us from the Senate gallery, Democratic Senator Robert Torricelli, and here in Washington, in the back row from the left, Michael Block (ph), Dan Seagal (ph), and trial attorney Anne Fraser, and in the front row, Paula Jones' attorney Joseph Cammarata, Republican pollster Kellyanne Fitzpatrick, and John Huang's attorney Ty Cobb.

Well, first to you, Ty. Your client initially indicated -- John Huang initially indicated that he wanted immunity. Then there was a sort of changing of that position where he said, "I want immunity for some things, and I don't need immunity for others." What is it that he wants immunity for, and what doesn't he request immunity...

TY COBB, JOHN HUANG'S ATTORNEY: I appreciate that question because I'd like to clarify a little bit. He never actually asked for immunity. What he explained in very brief conversations with the majority staff in which they elected not to pursue -- what I explained to them was that he would not testify without immunity. They never pursued that. They never demonstrated the persistence...

COSSACK: Well, he asked for immunity through you then as his counsel?

COBB: Absolutely. And it was not a request for immunity. It was an explanation to them that he would not testify without immunity. It really was not a request. I never had any basis to believe or reason to believe, based on my discussions with them, that they had the slightest interest in immunizing my client. Months and weeks later, however, the majority staff -- minority staff through minority counsel Mr. Barren (ph) creatively decided to persevere and see if there was some, you know, alternative to complete immunity or some circumstance that could be arranged that would permit Mr. Huang both to, you know, face the very serious accusations of espionage unprotected, yet put on the table the facts of most interest to the committee.

COSSACK: So it was the Democrats, in other words, who figured out -- the minority counsel who figured out this plan where there were some things that he could talk about because he didn't need the Fifth- Amendment protection and some things that he felt that he couldn't talk about. What are the areas that he felt he couldn't talk about? What -- when I was practicing in this area and I would take my clients in, perhaps before a grand jury, and take the Fifth Amendment, I would have gone through it with them, and I would know that there perhaps, at least in my opinion, were some criminal charges out there. What is it that he may be concerned about? And this is not to imply that he's guilty of anything.

COBB: Oh, sure, Roger. I appreciate that. And, also, you know from your experience in L.A. that limited immunity of the type I'm talking about is a commonly employed device by prosecutors, and notwithstanding Congress' current restrictive view of their own authority -- which I find odd, but they may be absolutely right -- it's not as unusual as it's been portrayed. There are frequently circumstances where prosecutors will immunize witnesses for certain crimes but not for, for example, murder, kidnapping, or whatever. The circumstances under which Mr. Huang desperately would like to testify would permit him no protection with regard to these serious charges. With regard to other charges...

COSSACK: With regard to what serious charges? The espionage?

COBB: The serious charges specifically identified in my letter to Senator Glenn, espion -- economic espionage, acting as an agent for a foreign government, misuse of classified information, and the four statutes that really govern those areas. The areas which, you know, based on the allegations that have been thrown about, where he could be subject to an indictment or potential violations including the Hatch Act which I think if carefully analyzed...

COSSACK: Now the Hatch Act has to do with what federal employees do in elections and their participation financially and otherwise.

COBB: Yes, that's correct, and as you'll recall, over the course of the last two days, there's been much focus on, you know, Mr. Huang receiving calls or making calls to the DNC during a period in which he was at Commerce. That's perfectly lawful under the Hatch Act.

COSSACK: All right. Joining us now also is Senator Robert Torricelli. Senator Torricelli, you've heard what Mr. Cobb has said his client wants. How do you feel about it?

SEN. ROBERT TORRICELLI (D-NJ), GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: Well, I think that, in the end, what's critical in this whole investigation is -- Senator Thompson has made some extraordinarily serious charges about potential espionage, a foreign government influencing our domestic electoral system. It is the truth or the untruth of those claims which is central to this investigation. If we can find a way to have Mr. Huang give testimony as to the veracity of those claims while keeping open the possibility of prosecution if he's involved in crimes of that nature, then we can reach an agreement.

I don't think people are interested in prosecuting him on the Hatch Act or on Federal Election Commission violations. They do not rise to the level of significance that are the focus of these hearings. So my hope would be there would be a way to find -- a way to give him immunity on the lesser charges while we keep his exposure to the more serious charges, if and when they are ever proven, or if, indeed, there's any truth to them at all. Now all of this would require, in my judgment, some affirmative response by the attorney general that our doing so would not complicate their current criminal investigation or any possible case they may be interested in pursuing.

COSSACK: All right. Kellyanne, let's put aside the issue of whether or not that kind of limited immunity -- you get it on some, you don't get it on others -- is possible, and let's just talk about the goal here. Senator Thompson, when he opened up, no question, said he had uncovered this sinister plot where the Chinese government was trying to influence our elections. That, to me, sounds very serious, obviously. The word espionage is thrown around. Here comes Ty Cobb's client who says, "Listen, I don't need the immunity about that. I had nothing to do with that. I'll answer all the questions you want, but there are some Hatch Act problems," described by the Senator as sort of minor. What's wrong with giving that kind of immunity?

KELLYANNE FITZPATRICK, GOP POLLSTER: What's wrong with it is it doesn't -- I don't think Ty today can -- Mr. Cobb today can tell us that he hasn't also talked with Paul Vegala (ph) or the attorney general's office. I mean, the difficulty here is that you can't just feel like this is an attorney-client matter. There are many who would profess that this is probably a more coordinated communication response. What will happen down the line with Mr. Huang in any future testimony or prosecutions -- the attorney general, who you'll recall, Roger, refused to appoint an independent counsel six months ago, now wants to leave open the possibility of a Department of Justice investigation and prosecution of Mr. Huang and wants to save that for the Department of Justice. We have full and faithful hearings occurring right now with Senator Torricelli on the committee himself, and I think that just allowing the facts to be disclosed is really all the game here. We can't -- we cannot...

COSSACK: But, Kellyanne, you're not going to get the facts. I mean...

FITZPATRICK: We cannot judge each day...

COSSACK: ... the Fifth Amendment does apply to Mr. Huang, and if he chooses to...

FITZPATRICK: Certainly. It's his right.

COSSACK: ... exercise it, that means that you're not going to get any information.

FITZPATRICK: It's his right.

COSSACK: Aren't you better off getting some information?

FITZPATRICK: No, I'm not sure about that, but I will say this about the Fifth Amendment and granting immunity. It is a mine field to grant immunity to someone and to ask questions where you don't already know the answers. Mr. Huang has...

COSSACK: All right. Let me get...

FITZPATRICK: ... a tradition of being not very forthcoming.

COSSACK: ... to Mr. Cobb. Is your client prepared to give a proffer, a proffer meaning, "I will tell you what I would testify to prior to being given the Fifth Amendment."

COBB: Oh, I -- you mean prior to being given immunity.

COSSACK: Prior to being given immunity rather.

COBB: Roger, absolutely. I think that's the way this would work procedurally. We haven't worked out of the procedure of that, and I'm concerned, as I suspect Senator Torricelli is, that -- given the obstacles that the majority has put in the way of this and the spin that they've put on it, that there may not be real interest by the majority staff in pursuing this. I have great confidence in Mr. Matting (ph) and great respect for him. We're going to have a substantive conversation tomorrow and, hopefully, we'll know at that stage of the game whether procedurally this is possible.

COSSACK: Senator Torricelli -- Senator, Ty Cobb says that perhaps the dragging of the feet here indicates that perhaps they're not so interested in getting the information they want. How do you feel about that?

TORRICELLI: Well, there's certainly -- I think as the days go on, there's more and more suspicion of that. These extraordinary claims were made of what these hearings were going to reveal. They certainly have not done so to date. I don't see any witnesses coming or any information that leads me to believe that Senator Thompson can justify these extraordinary claims that he has made. That may leave the Republicans in the ironic position that they're better off never having John Huang or several other witnesses ever come forward so that these hearings one day can adjourn with unanswered questions being out there, and from their perspective, unanswered questions may be better for them politically than answered questions since the answered questions are clearly not going their way.

FITZPATRICK: Roger, I...

COSSACK: All right. Kellyanne, I'm going to give you 15 seconds to respond.

FITZPATRICK: Thank you. I must respectfully disagree with the Senator because, yesterday, we learned a great deal from Richard Sullivan. As he stumbled to choose his words very carefully, we did learn two important facts. Number one, there was great reticence on the part of people at the DNC to hire John Huang as a fund raiser in that he had to go through some special training because there was a lack of experience and familiarity with our laws and, number two, that Bill Clinton was directly involved.

COSSACK: All right. I've got to take a...

TORRICELLI: I didn't find either of those things to be new or great revelations, and I think today we've established again that that was really a consistent pattern in the way the campaign was being operated.

FITZPATRICK: I'm not comforted by that.

COSSACK: All right. We've got to take a break. I'm sorry. When we come back, President Clinton answers Paula Jones' complaint and fires back some questions of his own. We'll talk about that.

(BEGIN GRAPHIC)

LEGAL BRIEF -- Lawyers have filed a class-action suit seeking to represent millions of users of the popular diet drug combination fen- phen. The suit accuses manufacturers of concealing fen-phen's hazards in the wake of new reports it may deform heart valves and cause lung damage.

(END GRAPHIC)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSSACK: Welcome back.

President Clinton's lawyers filed his answer to Paula Jones' complaint and have requested she answer some questions of her own. Joe Cammarata, the -- President Clinton's team has now fired back, and they said, OK, "Let's get right to the heart of the matter." She has signed an affidavit where she claims she can describe his genital area, and they say, "Fine. Let's take a look at that. Let's see what she has to say." It sounds like they're going on the offensive. Are you going to respond? What are they going to get?

JOSEPH CAMMARATA, PAULA JONES' ATTORNEY: Well, we will respond. They have served what's called discovery. They've asked us to respond under oath to certain written questions as well as provide them with certain documents. One of those documents was an affidavit that she tried to file under seal about three years ago. You know, the perception is that perhaps they're taking the offensive, and I'm not sure they're still talking about the same case. Where have they been for three years?

COSSACK: Well, Joe, look, I mean, they've been doing what lawyers do. They've been filing motions. They've been doing -- and they've been losing. You guys have been winning. But now you've won the right to go to trial, and they've said, OK, "You supposedly have this incredibly damaging testimony. We want to see it." Have you got it?

CAMMARATA: Have we -- do we have it?

COSSACK: Yeah.

CAMMARATA: We were planning to file it under seal. Of course, we have it...

COSSACK: And do you have...

CAMMARATA: ... and at some point, we will respond to their request. At the appropriate time. As of now, I'm not going to discuss what we will produce or not produce.

COSSACK: But there's been a question, I mean, of -- her first lawyer said, "I -- " and we've talked about this -- said, "Gee, I don't remember her ever coming in and saying anything to me about distinguishing characteristics." Then they say that you say there is an affidavit.

CAMMARATA: Well, to coin a phrase, he said he can't recall exactly whether or not Paula Jones said that. He didn't say she didn't, he didn't say she did, and in the words of our President, he couldn't recall, and so I don't think there's any inference that should be drawn by the lack of memory of Danny Traylor (ph).

COSSACK: Is there an affidavit that is written by Paula Jones that contains descriptions that would have distinguishing characteristics within it?

CAMMARATA: Yes.

COSSACK: And you can produce that.

CAMMARATA: We tried to file it with the court three years ago. The President objected to the filing of that affidavit with the court. Now everybody's making a big deal that this affidavit exists and they want it. Well, that's part of the proof in this case. She has made a claim that there were distinguishing characteristics in the President's genital area that were obvious to her because of what she alleges then-Governor Clinton did. So that is an issue in this case, and we will deal with it in some fashion.

COSSACK: Anne Fraser, it looks to me like, in some ways, what Joe has here -- is he has a trial on his hands because one of the things that Mr. Bennett has now said is, "It's now time for us to set a trial date. It seems like this should go forward." If anything, they seem at least a little more aggressive than they have been in the last three years in dealing with this issue.

ANNE FRASER, TRIAL ATTORNEY: I think that's absolutely right. I think we're at the point where the procedural issues have been put to rest. The defense is prepared to go forward and is asking, "Where's the beef? Where is the evidence that supports all of these allegations?" What I hear from Paula Jones' attorney, from Joe, is that, "We will disclose this information at the appropriate time." Well, frankly, now is the appropriate time as discovery moves forward. Certainly, he has -- he's permitted to disclose information according to a schedule under the discovery rules, but we're in that phase where the procedural skirmishing is over with, and we don't see any evidence coming out.

COSSACK: Kellyanne, you are, among other things, a pollster, and you sort of take the temperature of how people feel about certain things. Is this an issue that people care about in our country?

FITZPATRICK: Well, they do now. I think what really gave the Paula Jones' case new life in terms of the court of public opinion was the Supreme Court's ruling of about six weeks ago now because it raised the case away from a he said/she said sort of skirmish, the David versus Goliath issue that Susan was talking about earlier, into sort of the (inaudible) and non-politicization of the Supreme Court. If you look at pre-Supreme-Court-ruling polling and post-Supreme- Court-ruling polling, you'll see a drop down in level of people who believe Bill Clinton's version of the story. Less than 50 percent in this country believe he's telling the truth about all of this.

COSSACK: Yes, but his popularity is very, very high in this case.

FITZPATRICK: It's irrelevant if in fact -- his popularity is just that. It's, "Can you live with this guy as your President?" and I think you can almost insert any name in there. People are starting to ask, "Where is the shame? Where is the outrage?" If you ask people -- instead of "Are you favorable or unfavorable towards Bill Clinton?" -- "Do you think he's doing an excellent job, a good job, a fair job, or a poor job?" those who say poor or fair are 52 percent. Those -- his excellent job is 8 percent. His poor is 17 percent. So if you give people more of a range, an option, you find out that he is not -- he is not doing very well in the court of public opinion.

COSSACK: All right. We've got to take a break, Anne. I will get back to you. When we come back, hearing from Paula Jones' self- described close friend and new spokeswoman. Stay with us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ON THE DOCKET MONDAY -- THE AUCTION OF THE CENTURY?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSSACK: Paula Jones appeared briefly at a news conference in Los Angeles yesterday to introduce her new spokeswoman. Then Susan Carpenter-McMillan stepped forward. Now here's a portion of what she had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARPENTER-McMILLAN: This isn't about money. It never has been for Paula. Ever, ever, ever. She has been so firm on that, but I will tell you -- I will tell you what I have said to her -- and I'm married to a plaintiff's attorney -- "You're crazy, Paula, if you don't go after money." Believe me. I can publicly tell you Paula Jones has never wanted a dime. She wants an apology and an admission. She has said that time and time again via her lawyer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSSACK: Well, Joe, this is a person yesterday who was apparently speaking on behalf of Paula Jones. Is she the news spokeswoman?

CAMMARATA: She is not a spokeswoman for Paula Jones. She speaks for herself. She doesn't speak for Paula. She doesn't speak for me or my co-counsel, Gil. Her views are just that, her views. That's not to say I don't like Susan. I think she's a fine woman, and she is a friend who has been watching what has been going on for some three years and, frankly, is just sick and tired of sitting back and just letting this happen to her good friend, and so she wants to come out and speak her views.

COSSACK: She also has indicated that she was going to be instrumental in raising funds for Paula Jones' legal defense.

CAMMARATA: Well, let's hope she can do that because the legal defense -- the legal fund -- it's not a defense fund, but the legal fund is in need of money that -- we don't have two large insurance companies that are paying $1.5 million to defend the case. We've got ordinary Americans that have given $10 here, $5 there, and...

COSSACK: Let's stop you right there. Anne, are they ordinary Americans?

FRASER: I don't know whether they're ordinary Americans or not.

COSSACK: Well, we know that there has been some influence from what -- people have said the far right, the Jerry Falwell group.

FRASER: I know that, to the extent that this whole issue has been able to be marketed, I think that Paula Jones has marketed it fairly effectively. I don't know how she's frankly paying for her case, but she also stands -- I mean, when we talk about money, she stands to make a great deal of money if she is successful, and that is, obviously, hanging out there for her, and she also stands to get a huge attorney's fee award if she's successful. Now whether...

CAMMARATA: As is any plaintiff in a...

FRASER: As is any plaintiff.

CAMMARATA: ... a civil-rights case, so this is nothing out of the ordinary, Anne.

FRASER: Well, that's what I'm saying.

CAMMARATA: This thing about money as if...

FRASER: That's what I'm saying.

CAMMARATA: ... our American system is a -- foundation is free enterprise. This whole notion has gotten out of hand in terms of money. Money this. Money that. And you want to talk about discovery. You know, they -- Bob Bennett and President Clinton -- they served some discovery this week on Paula Jones, as we discussed earlier. Now they want -- and they also asked the court to limit the discovery. They don't want the deposition taken of their client, President Clinton, and they want the court to limit the discovery to what they call the core issues of the complaint.

COSSACK: But, Joe, this...

CAMMARATA: Now wait a second.

COSSACK: There's nothing unusual about lawyers making requests from the court.

CAMMARATA: No, no, no, no, but here again they served written questions on Paula Jones. This isn't a core issue. Whether or not some political foes of the President are...

FRASER: Sure, that's...

COSSACK: All right, Anne. We've got -- Anne, respond.

FRASER: Her motive in bringing the lawsuit is a core issue, her credibility is a core issue, and it's certainly appropriate to explore, first of all, whether she's telling the truth and, secondly, if she's not, why is she lying or what's motivating her to bring this...

CAMMARATA: Let's get to the core issues of whether or not President Clinton asked this trooper to bring her up there and whether or not he solicited sex.

COSSACK: I've got to get the core out of here. So we're going to say goodbye. Thanks to all of our panelists today. Thank you for joining us.

BURDEN OF PROOF will be back tomorrow, and we'll see you then.

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