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THE NATION

Clinton Could Have Been Convicted, Prosecutor Contends

Scandal: Ex-counsel, in his final report on the Lewinsky inquiry, cites false testimony. But he never details the charges.

March 07, 2002|DAVID G. SAVAGE and ROBERT L. JACKSON | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Ray had strong evidence that Clinton made false statements during his deposition in the Jones case. But Wright later dismissed Jones' lawsuit prior to a trial and ruled that Jones had no legal claim of sexual harassment. As such, it would have been hard to show how Clinton's lies regarding Lewinsky were "material."

Federal law makes "obstruction of justice" a crime, but the law refers to actions that hinder a criminal investigation or an "official proceeding."

For example, threatening a judge or juror or trying to hinder an FBI agent can be charged as obstruction of justice. But the criminal law had been rarely applied to disputes involving private civil suits that seek money damages, such as a sexual harassment claim.

Nancy Luque, a defense lawyer in Washington, said she found Ray's statement perplexing. "Usually, a prosecutor says, 'Here are the facts, here's the law, and here's how facts fit the law.' But this is strange. He doesn't say what the charge would be. And I can't find a federal crime that fits these facts."

For his part, Ray acknowledged that a final verdict is not in yet.

"All will no doubt agree that the decisions recounted in this report form an indelible part of the American historical record," he said. "But there agreement is likely to end."

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