I thought that the Senate vote earlier this year meant that William Clinton would continue to serve as president of the United States. If so, then how can The Post fault the American Bar Association for inviting him to speak to its annual convention? He is the constitutional officer charged with carrying out the laws of this country. The ABA ought to invite him as a matter of course, and if he has something to say (as he did this year about judges and the confirmation process), then he ought to speak.

Worse yet, The Post continues to have problems with the facts involving the president. The Post editorial says that the ABA invited a "perjurer" to speak ["Mr. Clinton and the ABA," Aug. 11]. That is false. A perjurer is someone who has been convicted of violating perjury statues. The president was not even charged with perjury, let alone found guilty. When talking about the law, The Post ought not bandy about criminal-law words without the facts.

The editorial also states that the president lied before a grand jury, suggesting that such behavior should have precluded the ABA from extending the invitation to speak. My favorite columnist, Richard Cohen, makes the same allegation ["Collegial Wink," op-ed, Aug. 12]. But the Senate specifically acquitted the president of such a charge at the conclusion of its trial. Can The Post nevertheless convict him and insist that the ABA ought to use The Post's judgment to decide who should speak and who should not?

Mr. Cohen says, quite correctly, that the president "is not just a citizen." If he were, he would never have been a defendant in the Paula Jones case, let alone the target of an independent counsel's investigation. And no citizen, as a bipartisan group of eminent prosecutors testified before the House Judiciary Committee, would likely be charged with any crime for what President Clinton said in the Jones deposition or before the grand jury.

President Clinton was invited to address the ABA because he is not just a citizen: He is the sitting president of the United States, and the professional association of this nation's lawyers ought to want to hear what he has to say.



The writer is a former White House counsel.