Clinton reprieve on sex charges
Saturday 23 July 1994
With a nine-page ruling issued late on Thursday, Little Rock federal judge Susan Webber Wright sided with the Clinton defence team and declared she would first decide on whether a sitting president is immune from civil lawsuits, before allowing the case to go any further. Mr Clinton 'may or may not succeed' with his claim, she wrote, but such lawsuits could prove a distraction that could damage both his office and the interests of the country itself.
The ruling means that Mr Clinton will not have to file a formal response, dealing with the substance of the lurid allegations against him, until after the immunity issue is disposed of. The expectation is that the appeal process will go all the way to the Supreme Court. That alone would take up to two years, predicted Robert Bennett, the President's atttorney. Even if he ultimately loses, other appeals by Mr Clinton could delay hearings proper until after the election.
Ms Jones claims that Mr Clinton, when governor of Arkansas, exposed himself to her and requested oral sex in a Little Rock hotel room in May 1991. Mr Clinton denies meeting Ms Jones, then an Arkansas state employee. Declaring her case to be of a 'purely personal nature', the judge noted she had waited almost three years, until almost the last possible moment, to file her complaint.
The ruling is also expected to freeze the case against Danny Ferguson, the Arkansas state trooper and co-defendant, whom Ms Jones accuses of setting up the meeting with then Governor Clinton.
But respite from the President's embarrassments will be brief. Televised Congressional hearings into the Whitewater affair open on Tuesday. Although limited in scope, they will air new allegations that Mr Clinton last year improperly approached the Comptroller of the Currency, a top bank supervisory official, for advice on the issue, and potentially damaging evidence against Deputy Treasury Secretary Roger Altman, a close friend of Mr Clinton from their undergraduate days. Mr Altman was in charge of the ROTC, the federal body sorting out debris left by failed savings banks at the centre of the Whitewater affair.
Witnesses at the hearings, which begin in the House before shifting to the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday, are a virtual roll-call of the Clinton White House. Among those summoned to testify are advisers George Stephanopoulos and Thomas 'Mack' McLarty, White House Counsel Lloyd Cutler and his predecessor Bernard Nussbaum, and other top aides of both Mr and Mrs Clinton. Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen, as well as Mr Altman, is also expected to testify.
Although nothing damning is likely to emerge, the hearings will do nothing to enhance the President's sagging prestige. His approval rating now stands at a 12- month low of 42 per cent, while two-thirds of the population has doubts about his honesty.
- 1 Mother fed her daughter tapeworms to make her skinny for beauty pageant
- 3 Crystal Palace next manager latest: Palace consider Ally McCoist - EXCLUSIVE
- 4 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 5 Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'
'Alien thigh bone' on Mars: Excitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
West poised to join forces with Assad in face of Islamic State
Pamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals: 'Mice had holes drilled into their skulls'
James Foley 'beheaded': Isis video shows militant with British accent 'execute US journalist' – as hunt begins for killer
ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Disgusting, frustrating, but intriguing: how the country really feels about its politicians
Bin bag full of cats' heads discovered near Manchester's Curry Mile
£20000 - £27000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...
£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst - (Active Di...
£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...
£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...