January 1, 1998


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Clinton Finishes Testimony In Paula Jones Case

Clinton departed in a limousine six hours after he arrived for deposition  

Answers Hours Of Questions About Alleged Sexual Harassment

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Jan. 17) -- After answering questions for more than four hours under oath in the sexual-harassment suit brought against him by Paula Jones, President Bill Clinton returned to the White House late Saturday afternoon.

Clinton's deposition -- the first time a sitting president has ever given testimony in a court case in which he is the defendant -- began at about 10:30 a.m. in the office of his Washington lawyer, Robert Bennett, about 1 1/2 blocks from the White House. Jones attended the session.

After about three hours of testimony, the parties took a break for lunch, then resumed at about 2:45 p.m. The president left the building just before 4:30 p.m. Jones followed about 20 minutes later.

The president's limousine entered and left the building through the parking garage, shielding him from the media. At the White House, aides were under instructions not to comment about the case.

Jones Arrives To Media Crush

Jones, who arrived at Bennett's office in a cab amid a sea of reporters and cameras, seemed almost overwhelmed by the crush. She was hustled into the building by her lawyers and public relations adviser, Susan Carpenter-McMillan.

The crowd of cameras and media that greeted Jones  

Camera operators and reporters jumped on top of cars to get a better view, butted some members of the Jones party and blocked the law firm's back entrance. Carpenter-McMillan called them "real jerks" and scuttled plans to have Jones make a brief statement.

A bystander perched on a parking meter shouted to Jones, "Go get him. We're with you, kid."

Carpenter-McMillan told reporters that Jones "feels great. She's not nervous."

298K/30 sec. AIFF or WAV sound
Carpenter-McMillan comments about Jones' departure  

"She wants to look across the table and look him right in the eye," Carpenter-McMillan said.

After the deposition was over, Jones avoided the media hordes, exiting quickly from the parking garage in a cab. Carpenter-McMillan waited out front, later telling reporters that because of the crush in the morning, a decision was made "for security reasons" not to have Jones return through the crowd.

Jones Claims She Rebuffed Sexual Request

Jones, a former clerical worker in Arkansas, claims that on May 8, 1991, while Clinton was Arkansas governor and she was a state employee, he invited her to a hotel room in Little Rock, exposed himself and asked that she perform oral sex. She said she rebuffed his request and subsequently suffered a hostile work environment.

Clinton has firmly rejected Jones' accusations and says he doesn't recall ever meeting her. But despite his denials, observers widely agree the case is an embarrassment to the White House.

The videotaped testimony Clinton gave Saturday is part of a federal trial scheduled to begin May 27. Both sides were ordered by presiding U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright of Arkansas not to discuss details of the deposition session.

Clinton met with his legal team late into Friday evening to prepare for the deposition, which has already provided much fodder for jokes and cartoons lampooning the president's personal character.

White House spokesman Mike McCurry said Clinton viewed the matter as "a distraction but ... not a burdensome distraction." And Clinton maintained late last year, "It's not going to cause me any difficulty, because I'm going to do my job here."

Fallout A Matter For Debate

Some pollsters say the public has not been paying much attention to the case because they simply do not like that kind of story. Recent opinion polls seem to confirm that: Clinton is enjoying near-record job-approval ratings.

But not everybody agrees that the case won't be damaging.

"The world is going to be chortling. It will be front-page news in every city that has a free press. And it reflects on us. And I think we should be upset about it," said Stephen Hess of the Brookings Institution.

Both sides were believed to have been close to a settlement before Jones' previous attorneys, Joe Cammarata and Gilbert Davis, withdrew from her case in September. It was reported at the time that there was disagreement over whether Jones should accept a settlement offer of $700,000 and a statement from Clinton, saying she was a person of good character.

Jones is now seeking a settlement of $2 million and an apology from Clinton to avoid having the case go to trial.

CNN Correspondents Bob Franken and John King contributed to this report.

In Other News

Weekend Jan. 17 & 18, 1998

Jones' Lawyers Promise Aggressive Stance In Clinton Suit
Clinton Finishes Testimony In Paula Jones Case
Who Backs Paula Jones?
Clinton Testifies In Sexual-Harassment Suit

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