Jones morass could still trap Clinton

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The Independent Online
JUST WHEN it might have seemed that the President's political travails were over, he may now be facing a further legal ordeal.

Bill Clinton could be heading for trouble over his misleading testimony to the sexual- harassment case brought by the former Arkansas state employee Paula Jones, which triggered the long and painful impeachment process.

Mr Clinton has admitted his testimony was misleading, and on Tuesday the judge in the Jones case said she might bring proceedings against him for contempt of court. "I believe that now is the time for the court to address the contempt issue," said Judge Susan Webber Wright in Little Rock, Arkansas. "With the exception of the President, I have not been able to single out individuals who might be in contempt."

The Jones case was dismissed by the judge but appealed by Ms Jones. She then settled out of court with Mr Clinton for $850,000. But the case had, by then, placed him in deep trouble.

Among witnesses listed in the case was a certain Monica Lewinsky, and it was this which led inexorably to Mr Clinton's impeachment last year.

But a sitting President probably cannot be arrested, or forced to go to court - that is why impeachment exists - so it is unclear what will happen to Mr Clinton even if the case is brought. One possibility is that he will be disbarred from practising law again. The contempt case is one of a series of possible actions that could flare up in his remaining two years in office. Impeachment may be over, but a welter of possible other cases could keep lawyers busy into the next millennium.

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