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Clinton Makes Deal To Avoid Indictment On Last Day In Office

President Clinton has struck a deal with the Independent Counsel, Robert Ray, admitting he lied during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, and accepting a 5-year suspension of his licence to practise law in return for not being indicted.

RayMr. Clinton has agreed to pay a fine of $25,000 to cover counsel fees and acknowledged that he committed a breach of professional conduct because of the testimony he gave in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case.

The unexpected announcement of the deal came on Clinton’s last full day in office and highlighted the profound impact the Lewinsky scandal had on his presidency.

Clinton’s deposition in the Paula Jones case, in which he first responded to questions about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky, led to an investigation by Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr, impeachment by the House of Representatives and a Senate trial. The President was acquitted by the Senate in February 1999.

In a prepared statement, Clinton said: “I have had occasion frequently to reflect on the Jones case. In this consent order, I acknowledge having knowingly violated Judge Wright’s discovery orders in my deposition in that case. I tried to walk a fine line between acting lawfully and testifying falsely, but I now recognize that I did not fully accomplish this goal and that certain of my responses to questions about Ms. Lewinsky were false.”

In his statement, Ray said: “The nation’s interests have been served and, therefore, I decline prosecution. In doing so, I have tried to heed Justice Robert Jackson’s wisdom: ‘The citizens’ safety lies in the prosecutor who tempers zeal with human kindness, who seeks truth and not victims, who serves the law and not factional purposes, and who approaches his task with humility.’ I trust that the decision made today meets the expectations of the American people, who deserve a resolution that acknowledges the president’s conduct, respects America’s institutions, and demonstrates sensitivity to our constitutional system of government. This matter is now concluded. May history and the American people judge that it has been concluded justly.”

It remains to be seen what involvement the new Bush administration has had in the deal announced today. The Ray decision eliminates a potential distraction in the early days of the Bush term over the question of prosecution and a possible pardon of Clinton.

Bush is to be sworn in as president at noon on Saturday January 20.


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Malcolm Farnsworth
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