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CNN Today

Arkansas Committee Recommends Disbarment of President

Aired May 23, 2000 - 1:07 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: The question of whether President Clinton should be disbarred now goes to a judge and a ruling could come in four to six weeks. A lawyers' committee in Mr. Clinton's home state of Arkansas has recommended that his license to practice law be revoked. The committee says the president engaged in serious misconduct when he testified in the Paula Jones case.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At any time were you and Monica Lewinsky together alone in the Oval Office?

WILLIAM J. CLINTON: I don't recall.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you have an extra-marital, sexual affair with Monica Lewinsky?

CLINTON: No.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: CNN White House correspondent Major Garrett joins us with more on the disbarment battle.

MAJOR GARRETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Natalie, the battle lines are different in this case, no longer are the president's aides fighting this on a daily basis as they did during impeachment. And of course. Congressional Republicans have largely remained silent on the whole question of whether or not President Clinton should be disbarred. This matter has been left entirely to the president's personal attorney, David Kendall, who issued a statement yesterday in reaction to the committee's recommendation for disbarment; saying: "This recommendation is wrong and clearly contradicted by precedent. We will vigorously dispute it in a court of law."

Mr. Kendall and the president have long maintained that his answers in the Paula Jones deposition were evasive, they were not helpful, but that they were technically and legally accurate; and in no way should the president be held to any sort of disbarment standard for his actions in that depositions.

White House officials say this in no way distracts the president and point to two pieces of evidence: one, an announcement here at the White House earlier today about a breakthrough agreement with House Speaker Dennis Hastert to provide tax credits and tax brakes to more than 80 economically depressed communities around the country, both rural and urban; White House officials also say that the president has been very successful in moving toward Congressional ratification of his move for permanent normal trade relations with China.

White House officials say that they couldn't achieve either of those things if this was a distraction or in any way cutting in to the president's political capital.

Major Garrett, CNN, reporting live from the White House.

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