Paula Jones case

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The Paula Jones case refers to a lawsuit brought against President Bill Clinton, claiming he sexual harassed Paula Jones, a former Arkansas state employee. While the case was ultimately dismissed as groundless, Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr used his Whitewater investigation which was ending (without any wrongdoing by the Clintons) to take up Jones claims of sexual harrassment as a line of investigation. In casting a net to find criminal wrongdoing by President Clinton, went on to pursue claims of sexual misconduct by President Clinton with Monica Lewinsky. The resulting scandal which erupted when it was revealed that she performed oral sex on President Clinton, lead to the impeachment of President Clinton.

Contents

Background

According to her story, in 1991 she was escorted to the hotel room of Bill Clinton, then governor of Arkansas, where he crudely propositioned her. She kept quiet about the incident until 1994, when a David Brock story in American Spectator told a story, often referred to by the right-wing as "Troopergate", about an Arkansas employee named "Paula" offering to be Clinton's girlfriend. Jones filed a sexual harassment suit against Clinton in May 1994.

Jones began to be represented by Susan Carpenter-McMillan, Gilbert Davis and Joseph Cammarata. Carpenter-McMillan wasted no time in using the press to attack Clinton to a much greater degree, calling him "un-American," a "liar," and a "philanderer" on Meet the Press, Crossfire, Equal Time, Larry King Live, Today, The Geraldo Rivera Show, Burden of Proof, Hannity & Colmes, Talkback Live, and other shows. "I do not respect a man who dodges the draft, cheats on his wife, and exposes his wee-wee to a stranger," she said.

Ann Coulter, then a commentator for MSNBC, then became a secret unpaid legal adviser helping Jones' attorneys. Coulter had begun writing a column for the magazine Human Events, a column that soon included analysis of the Paula Jones case. Coulter's friend George Conway had been asked to assist Jones' attorneys, and shortly afterwards Coulter was asked to help also and began writing legal briefs for the case.

Coulter said she would come to mistrust the motives of Paula Jones' head lawyer, Joseph Cammaratta, who told Jones she didn't have a case and should take a settlement. (Daley, 1999) Since the beginning of the lawsuit, Jones had wanted an apology from Clinton as much as or more than a settlement (Barak, 1998), and Coulter said she, Coulter, believed that from her own knowledge of the case that Jones' case was solid, that Jones was telling the truth and Clinton should be held publicly accountable for his misconduct, and that if Jones only took a settlement, it would make Jones look as if she were only extorting money from the President. (Daley, 1999)

David Daley of the Hartford Courant continues the account:

Coulter played one particularly key role in keeping the Jones case alive. In Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff's new book Uncovering Clinton: A Reporter's Story, Coulter is unmasked as the one who leaked word of Clinton's "distinguishing characteristic" — his reportedly bent penis that Jones said she could recognize and describe — to the news media. Her hope was to foster mistrust between the Clinton and Jones camps and forestall a settlement....
"I thought if I leaked the distinguishing characteristic it would show bad faith in negotiations. [Clinton lawyer] Bob Bennett would think Jones had leaked it. Cammaratta would know he himself hadn't leaked it and would get mad at Bennett. It might stall negotiations enough for me to get through to [Jones adviser] Susan Carpenter-McMillan to tell her that I thought settling would hurt Paula, that this would ruin her reputation, and that there were other lawyers working for her. Then 36 hours later, she returned my phone call.
"I just wanted to help Paula. I really think Paula Jones is a hero. I don't think I could have taken the abuse she came under. She's this poor little country girl and she has the most powerful man she's ever met hitting on her sexually, then denying it and smearing her as president. And she never did anything tacky. It's not like she was going on TV or trying to make a buck out of it." (1999)

According to the website Coulter Watch, Coulter also told writer Isikoff, "We were terrified that Jones would settle. It was contrary to our purpose of bringing down the president" ("Oh, Paula" - PDF, 2002, par. 5, 2).

In September 1997, Jones' attorneys Gilbert Davis and Joseph Cammarata both quit the case, after Carpenter-McMillan advised Jones to reject the settlement offer from Clinton because it didn't come with an apology. Carpenter-McMillan's husband, personal-injury lawyer William McMillan, then became Jones' chief attorney, while Carpenter-McMillan continued to serve as Jones' spokeswoman, chair her legal fund, and run her fund-raising Website. Under her influence, Jones underwent a substantial 'fashion makeover' in early 1998. "I talked to her as a friend," Carpenter-McMillan said, "I don't know that anyone had ever talked to her about her hair." Jones' permed curly dark 'big hair' was converted to a softer, smoother, straight hairstyle in a lighter brown color; her makeup changed from brighter colors to more subtle shades; her clothing went from faddish short skirts and garish accessories to conservative pantsuits. Most observers agreed that she had had a subtle rhinoplasty, which Jones and Carpenter-Mcmillan vigorously denied, saying "She has not had a nose job! She has not had plastic surgery at all. We couldn't afford it." The net effect, it was universally agreed, was to change her image from unreliable 'trailer trash', to a sober, reliable, competent professional.

However, when the case did go to court, it was summarily dismissed as groundless, in that the judge ruled that Jones could not show that she had suffered any damages whatsoever, even should all her charges prove true. Jones did eventually gain a settlement from Clinton in exchange for not appealing the decision, but it was only $850,000, one third the size she had been asking for, and all but $151,000 went to pay her now considerable legal expenses; meanwhile, her marriage had broken apart. However, the investigation of the Jones case eventually led to the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal, and Clinton's 1998 impeachment.

In an ironic twist, Brock (who later founded Media Matters for America) apologized to Clintons in an article in Esquire in April, 1998 saying that accounts in the original article in American Spectator were simply made up as part of an anti-Clinton crusade on the part of Richard Mellon Scaife's Arkansas Project.

Quotations related to Paula Jones' sexual harrassment allegation against President Clinton

  • "Drag a hundred dollar bill through a trailer park and there's no telling what you'll get" -James Carville
  • "All feminists who sincerely support sexual harassment guidelines should indeed defend Paula Jones, since Bill Clinton's alleged behavior broke every rule. She was on the job at the time, and he was her ultimate boss; he illegally used state troopers for a private escapade; and he began his approach by coercively mentioning a friendship with her immediate boss. Feminist leaders would have tarred and feathered any Republican who carried on like this 1." -Camille Paglia

Related articles

References

  • Barak, Daphne (September 23, 1998). Jones would have been happy with an apology. Irish Examiner.
  • Daley, David (June 25, 1999). Ann Coulter: light's all shining on her. Hartford Courant. [$2.50 charge required to view article]

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