A federal judge Monday found President Clinton in contempt of court for giving false testimony about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case.
CBS News Senior White House Correspondent Scott Pelley reports that in her ruling, Judge Susan Webber Wright said: "There is simply no escaping the fact that the president deliberately violated this court's discovery orders and deliberately undermined the integrity of the judicial system."
She referred to a sworn deposition Mr. Clinton gave in the lawsuit that triggered his impeachment by the House of Representatives. Her ruling came nearly three months after the Senate voted to acquit Mr. Clinton of the impeachment charges that grew out of the Lewinsky relationship and his denials of it.
In the deposition, Mr. Clinton was asked numerous questions about his relationship with Lewinsky. For example, when asked if they were ever alone together in the Oval Office, Mr. Clinton answered: "I don't recall, but as I said when she worked at the legislative affairs office, they always had somebody there on the weekends. I typically worked some on the weekends. Sometimes they'd bring me things on the weekends. It seems to me she brought things to me once or twice on the weekends."
Of this and other answers the judge concluded: "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."
This is a civil contempt citation, not a criminal one. The judge has ordered that Mr. Clinton should pay reasonable court fees for Jones, which could range into hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Senior presidential aides, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Clinton lawyers regarded the penalty as minimal since the judge had the option of citing the president for criminal contempt. But the lawyers were keeping options open until they learn how large a monetary penalty Jones might receive.
The matter is also being referred to the Arkansas Superior Court in a process that could result in Mr. Clinton's disbarment as an attorney.
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