In his autobiography, My Life, impeached President Bill Clinton once again insists he did not intentionally make false statements in a court proceeding–even though two authorities, U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright and Independent Counsel Robert Ray, have cited him for doing so.
Ray forced Clinton to make a Jan. 19, 2001, plea bargain in which Clinton admitted making false statements in Paula Jones’s sexual harassment suit in exchange for Ray’s declining to prosecute him for perjury and obstruction of justice. Wright cited Clinton for contempt of court on April 12, 1999, for “giving false, misleading and evasive answers that were designed to obstruct the judicial process.”
Here’s how Clinton treats Ray and Wright in his book–and to put his words in perspective, a devastating excerpt from Wright’s 1999 contempt citation.
“Near the end of my term, [Independent Counsel Robert] Ray wanted his pound of flesh, too; a written statement admitting that I had given false testimony in my deposition, and an agreement to accept a temporary suspension of my law license in return for Ray’s shutting down the independent counsel’s investigation. . . . However, I couldn’t agree to intentionally giving false testimony because I didn’t believe I had. After carefully rereading my deposition and finding a couple of instances in which I gave answers that were not accurate, I gave Ray a statement that said that though I had tried to testify lawfully, some of my responses were false.”
“My promise to leave the Jones case behind would be tested once more, and severely. In April 1999, Judge [Susan Webber] Wright sanctioned me for violating her discovery orders and required me to pay her travel costs and the Jones lawyers’ deposition expenses. I strongly disagreed with Wright’s opinion but could not dispute it without getting into the very factual issues I was determined to avoid and taking more time away from my work”
Judge Susan Webber Wright:
“[T]he record demonstrates by clear and convincing evidence that the President responded to plaintiff’s questions by giving false, misleading and evasive answers that were designed to obstruct the judicial process. . . . Although there are a number of aspects of the President’s conduct in this case that might be characterized as contemptuous, the Court addresses at this time only . . . the President’s sworn statements concerning whether he and Ms. Lewinsky had ever been alone together and whether he had ever engaged in sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky.
“At his January 17,1998, deposition, the President responded to a series of questions regarding whether he and Ms. Lewinsky had ever been alone together by maintaining that he could not recall being alone with her. The President testified as follows:
Q: Mr. President, before the break, we were talking about Monica Lewinsky. At any time were you and Monica Lewinsky together alone in the Oval Office?
Clinton: I don’t recall . . .
Q: So I understand, your testimony is that it was possible, then, that you were alone with her, but you have no specific recollection of that ever happening?
Clinton: Yes, that’s correct. . . .
Q: At any time have you and Monica Lewinsky ever been alone together in any room in the White House?
Clinton: I think I testified to that earlier. I think that there is a, it is–I have no specific recollection . . .
“At his August 17 appearance before the grand jury, the President directly contradicted his deposition testimony by acknowledging that he had indeed been alone with Ms. Lewinsky on a number of occasions during which they engaged in ‘inappropriate intimate contact.’ He stated he also was alone with her ‘from time to time’ when there was no ‘improper contact’ occurring. The President began his testimony by reading a statement which reads in part as follows:
‘When I was alone with Ms. Lewinsky on certain occasions in early 1996 and once in early 1997, I engaged in conduct that was wrong. . . .’
“The President then testified as follows in response to questions regarding whether he and Ms. Lewinsky had ever been alone together:
Q: Let me ask you, Mr. President, you indicate in your statement that you were alone with Ms. Lewinsky. Is that right?
Clinton: Yes, sir.
Q: How many times were you alone with Ms. Lewinsky?
Clinton: Let me begin with the correct answer. I don’t know for sure. But if you would like me to give an educated guess, I will do that, but I do not know for sure. And I will tell you what I think, based on what I remember. But I can’t be held to a specific time, because I don’t have records of all of it.
Q: How many times do you think?
Clinton: Well, there are two different periods here. There’s the period when she worked in the White House until April of ’96. And then there’s the period when she came back to visit me from February of ’97 until late December ’97. Based on our records–let’s start with the records, where we have the best records and the closest in time. Based on our records, between February and December, it appears to me that at least I could have seen her approximately nine times. . . . And I am frankly quite sure–although I have no specific memory, I am quite sure there were a couple of more times, probably two times more, three times more. That’s what I would say. . . .
In addition, the President recalled a specific meeting on Dec. 28, 1997, less than three weeks prior to his January 17 deposition, at which he and Ms. Lewinsky were alone together. The President went on to acknowledge that he tried to conceal his ‘inappropriate intimate relationship’ with Ms. Lewinsky by not telling anyone about the relationship and by ‘do[ing] it where nobody else was looking at it,’ stating that he would have to be an ‘exhibitionist not to have tried to exclude everyone else.’. . .
With respect to whether he and Ms. Lewinsky had engaged in sexual relations, the President testified at his January 17 deposition as follows:
Q: Did you have an extramarital sexual affair with Monica Lewinsky?
Q: If she told someone that she had a sexual affair with you beginning in November of 1995, would that be a lie?
Clinton: It’s certainly not the truth. It would not be the truth. . . . I have never had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky. I’ve never had an affair with her.
The President confirmed these denials in response to questioning from his attorney regarding Ms. Lewinsky’s affidavit and whether he and Ms. Lewinsky ever had a ‘sexual relationship’:
Q: In paragraph eight of her affidavit, she says this, ‘I have never had a sexual relationship with the President, he did not propose that we have a sexual relationship, he did not offer me employment or other benefits in exchange for a sexual relationship, he did not deny me employment or other benefits for rejecting a sexual relationship.’ Is that a true and accurate statement as far as you know it?
Clinton: That is absolutely true.
“. . . At his August 17 grand jury appearance, the President directly contradicted his deposition testimony by acknowledging ‘inappropriate intimate contact’ with Ms. Lewinsky on numerous occasions. . . . It is difficult to construe the President’s sworn statements in this civil lawsuit concerning his relationship with Ms. Lewinsky as anything other than a willful refusal to obey this Court’s discovery orders. Given the President’s admission that he was misleading with regard to the questions being posed to him and the clarity with which his falsehoods are revealed by the record, there is no need to engage in an extended analysis of the President’s sworn statements in this lawsuit. Simply put, the President’s deposition testimony regarding whether he had ever been alone with Ms. Lewinsky was intentionally false, and his statements regarding whether he had ever engaged in sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky likewise were intentionally false, notwithstanding tortured definitions and interpretations of the term ‘sexual relations.’ . . .
“The Court therefore adjudges the President to be in civil contempt of court pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(b)(2).”