What Is Clinton's Perjury Defense?

Answers to your questions about the news.
Dec. 18 1998 3:12 PM

What Is Clinton's Perjury Defense?

(Continued from Page 1)

Perjury #2: Alone with Monica.


Paula Jones' attorneys asked Clinton whether he was ever alone in a room with Lewinsky. Clinton answered "I don't recall." Later Jones' attorneys asked whether it was possible that they were alone, even though Clinton had no specific memory of such an event, and Clinton answered yes.

Clinton's lawyers say that "the president did not testify that he was never alone with Ms. Lewinsky." The lawyers say the second comment--that they might have been alone together even though he doesn't remember it--makes this clear. He was just saying he doesn't recall. But saying you don't recall something when you really do is a false assertion of fact and therefore is perjury just as much as denying that same something outright. The only difference is that it is a lot harder to prove.

Perjury #3: Giving and receiving gifts.

Paula Jones' attorneys asked Clinton whether he had given or received gifts from Monica Lewinsky. He said he'd definitely given her a gift from the Black Dog, a store on Martha's Vineyard. He said he wasn't sure whether he'd given her a book, and he'd received gifts from her "once or twice." We know that many more gifts were exchanged.

Clinton's lawyers reply that he admitted to giving and receiving some gifts. They contend this is the only "material" issue. Of course not everyone agrees about what is material, but it's a reasonable legal defense--lies must be important to count as perjury. Clinton's lawyers also argue that they weren't willful falsehoods--that Clinton believed he was telling the truth. The argument is that if he'd wanted to lie about the gifts, he'd have denied receiving any at all. So the fact that he admitted to a few suggests that he intended to be truthful. Another argument, which Clinton's lawyers do not make but others have, is that it's technically true to say you have received one or two gifts when you have received a total of 40.

Perjury #4A: Conversations with Lewinsky

Jones' attorneys asked Clinton to say when he last met with Lewinsky. Clinton said he wasn't sure, but it was "probably sometime before Christmas." Clinton was also asked if, at that time, she said she had been subpoenaed. (The questioners were trying to establish that Clinton pressured Lewinsky to lie.) Clinton said, "I don't know." It is undisputed that, at their last meeting on Dec. 28, Lewinsky said she'd been subpoenaed.

Clinton's lawyers maintain that it's unclear whether Clinton was even talking about the Dec. 28 meeting when he said "I don't know." Since he had claimed not to remember any meeting after Christmas, it's possible the "I don't know" referred to their last meeting before Christmas, where he and Lewinsky in fact didn't discuss her subpoena.

Perjury #4B: Conversations with Vernon Jordan about Lewinsky

Vernon Jordan testified before the grand jury that he had two conversations with Lewinsky in Dec. 1997, and that he told Clinton about both. Both times, Jordan says, he mentioned that Lewinsky had been subpoenaed. Jones' lawyers asked Clinton whether anyone other than his attorneys had told Clinton about the subpoenas. Clinton said "I don't think so," then another question was asked, and Clinton replied "Bruce Lindsey ...[was] the first person [who] told me she was [subpoenaed]."



Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?


Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

One of Putin’s Favorite Oligarchs Wants to Start an Orthodox Christian Fox News

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

Trending News Channel
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
Oct. 20 2014 11:36 PM Forget Oculus Rift This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.