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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Harassment Suit Against Clinton May Go Forward, Court Decides

WASHINGTON -- An Arkansas sexual harassment case against President Bill Clinton can go to trial, a federal appeals court has ruled, setting the stage for a battle before the nation's highest court.


Clinton's lawyer argued that he should not be questioned under oath on such matters while serving as president, but an appeals panel in St. Louis decided on a 2-1 vote that the case brought by a former Arkansas state employee can proceed.


"The president, like all other government officials, is subject to the same laws that apply to all other members of our society," the court ruled Tuesday. "A sitting president is not immune from civil suits for his unofficial acts."


The president's lawyer, Robert Bennett, said he was disappointed.


The development comes as the first family faces renewed questions about Hillary Rodham Clinton's credibility stemming from recent revelations about her role in the Whitewater affair and in the firing of seven White House travel office workers.


The media coverage has Clinton furious: After The New York Times' William Safire called the first lady "a congenital liar" in his column Monday, the White House shot back that it was "an outrageous personal attack that has no basis in fact."


Clinton dismissed new questions about Mrs. Clinton's legal work for an Arkansas financial institution at the center of the Whitewater controversy and her role in the travel office firings.


"We've been through this for four years now and every time somebody has made a charge related to the Whitewater issue, it's turned up dry,'' Clinton said.


If the top court does agree to take the sexual harassment case, there's virtually no chance a trial could start before the 1996 election. The Supreme Court would not hear arguments until October at the earliest, and a decision would not be expected until sometime next year.


Paula Jones claims that Clinton sexually harassed her in a Little Rock hotel suite in 1991. She has said she rejected Clinton's suggestion that they engage in sex and seeks more than $700,000 in damages. Clinton has denied ever having an encounter with Jones, and has said he cannot recall whether or not he ever met her.