The President's denial was made public late yesterday, just as America was settling into a long holiday weekend for Independence Day, thoroughly diverted from Washington politicking by the promise of warm summer weather and the imminent arrival of the space probe on Mars.
In his written submission to the court, Mr Clinton repeats his earlier insistence that he has "no recollection" of ever meeting her. But, indicating the line of defence he might take should the case come to court, Mr Clinton says that her suit fails to demonstrate that he violated her constitutional rights, is founded on "privileged" statements and fails to allege defamation.
While some of Mr Clinton's associates had advised him to settle with Ms Jones, his response to the court suggests that he intends to fight. At least one adviser, George Stephanopoulos, had urged him to do just that, arguing that nothing in Ms Jones's allegations gave her a case for claiming sexual harassment.
She has claimed that Mr Clinton asked her for oral sex, but did not persevere when she refused. She went to law only after Mr Clinton had become President, when a magazine article named a girl called Paula as having had a hotel rendezvous with the then governor of Arkansas. Ms Jones says that this sullied her reputation.
Mr Clinton recently lost an appeal to have the case deferred until he had left the presidency. Even so, he is still clearly playing for time. Yesterday he asked that the preliminary hearing be delayed until the judge has ruled not only on his request for the case to be thrown out but on the scope of the preliminary hearing itself.Reuse content