Paula Jones's case at risk

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The Independent Online
PAULA JONES, who recently looked set to become a millionaire twice over after suing President Bill Clinton for sexual harassment and setting the Monica Lewinsky revelations in train, could end up without a cent.

Unofficial reports yesterday said lawyers for Mr Clinton had withdrawn a $750,000 (pounds 470,000) offer to settle. A $1m offer from a New York millionaire, Abe Hirschfeld, to settle the case to save the nation from more embarrassment has also fizzled out.

This week Mrs Jones reduced her demand to $950,000 but lawyers for Mr Clinton, whose political need for a settlement was diminished by the Democrats' showing in this week's elections, rejected the proposal and said they were in no hurry to settle.

They appear to be waiting for the ruling on Ms Jones's appeal. If the appeals court upholds the lower-court decision to dismiss the case, Mr Clinton would not be liable to pay anything.

Mrs Jones would be thousands of dollars in debt to her successive teams of lawyers.

Meanwhile, prospects of a clash loomed yesterday between the White House and the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee after the chairman, Henry Hyde, released the text of the 81 questions that the committee wants Mr Clinton to answer in advance of impeachment hearings.

The purpose of the questions, according to Mr Hyde, is to "narrow" the scope of the inquiry and reduce the time it will take.

But the nature of the questions, which span the gamut of points raised by Mr Clinton's sworn testimony - from whether he helped Ms Lewinsky with her search for a job and whether he gave her a present of cigars - made it highly unlikely that Mr Clinton would be able to answer without incriminating himself.