The Washington Post reported in Tuesday's editions that Robert W. Ray the independent counsel who replaced Kenneth Starr considers the investigation of Mr. Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky an "open matter."
The comments left open the possibility of criminal charges after the president leaves office in January, 2001. Ray said he does not intend to make a decision about whether to indict Clinton until after the president is out of office next January, because the indictment of a sitting president would be subject to constitutional challenges that would go on for years.
|No, Pardon Me|
(WASHINGTON) President Clinton would not pardon himself before he leaves office to avoid an independent counsel prosecution, his spokesman said Tuesday.
White House press secretary Joe Lockhart was asked, "Can you assure us the president will not pardon himself on or before January the 20th", Mr. Clinton's last day in office?
"Yes," Lockhart replied, affirming the negative.
Lockhart added he knows of no discussion between Clinton and Vice President Al Gore about a possible White House pardon should Gore succeed his boss as president. (AP)
Mr. Clinton has said he will miss "doing the work of the people," and that he would gladly run for office again if it weren't prohibited by the 22nd Amendment. Now, he may face criminal charges as a citizen after he leaves the trappings of the nation's highest office.
At the White House Tuesday, CBS News Correspondent Peter Maer reports the case is once again gaining attention.
"It is legally permissible to indict and indeed try an ex-president. But the question is, is it wise?" asked Paul Rothstein, a Georgetown University Law Professor.
Among charges being weighed against Mr. Clinton in connection with the Lewinsky matter are perjury, obstruction of justice, making false statements, and conspiracy to commit those crimes when he was questioned under oath about his relationship with the former White House intern, the Post reported.
"It is an open investigation," Ray told the paper. "There is a principle to be vindicated, and that principle is that no person is above the law, even the president of the United States."
Ray, a top aide to Kenneth Starr, replaced the independent counsel last October after an investigation that led to Clinton's impeachment, trial and acquittal.
Rather than winding down the independent counsel's office after Starr's departure, Ray recently hired six new lawyers with significant prosecutorial experience and one investigator, and has an FBI agent detailed to his staff. In addition, Ray has projected spending $3.5 million over the next six months, u from the $3.1 million spent during the past half-year.
Last year, a federal judge in Arkansas ordered President Clinton to pay nearly $90,000 to Paula Jones's legal team for giving false testimony about his relationship with Lewinsky, marking the first time that a sitting president has been punished for contempt of court.
In Little Rock, Ark., this week, the state supreme court's disciplinary arm is also considering a complaint to disbar the president in connection with his deceptive testimony in the Jones harassment case.
Hillary Rodham Clinton's actions in the Whitewater venture are also under investigation.