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Excerpts From Wright's Order

The Washington Post
Tuesday, April 13, 1999; Page A06

Following are excerpts from Judge Susan Webber Wright's order yesterday holding President Clinton in civil contempt of court for his testimony about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky during questioning in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case:

. . . On two separate occasions, this Court ruled in clear and reasonably specific terms that plaintiff was entitled to information regarding any individuals with whom the President had sexual relations or proposed or sought to have sexual relations and who were during the relevant time frame state or federal employees. . . . Notwithstanding these orders, the record demonstrates by clear and convincing evidence that the President responded 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 Aug. 17 appearance before the grand jury, the President directly contradicted his [Jan. 17] 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. . . .'

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. . . . Simply put, the President's deposition testimony regarding whether he has ever engaged in sexual relations 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.'

Certainly the President's aggravation with what he considered a 'politically inspired lawsuit' may well have been justified, although the Court makes no findings in that regard. . . . [But] the President never challenged the legitimacy of plaintiff's lawsuit . . . and it simply is not acceptable to employ deceptions and falsehoods in an attempt to obstruct the judicial process. . . .

[T]he President's contumacious conduct in this case, coming as it did from a member of the bar and the chief law enforcement officer of this Nation, was without justification and undermined the integrity of the judicial system. . . .

Sanctions must be imposed, not only to redress the misconduct of the President in this case, but to deter others who, having observed the President's televised address to the nation in which his defiance of this court's discovery orders was revealed, might themselves consider emulating the President of the United States by willfully violating discovery orders of this and other courts. . . .


© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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