What exactly did the President say about his relationship with Gennifer Flowers when questioned under oath Jan. 17 by Paula Jones' lawyers? And perhaps more importantly, just what was he asked?
Three sources familiar with the case told TIME Thursday that the lawyers deposing Clinton used a definition of sex that included, by name, any touching of the genitals, anus, groin, breasts, inner thigh or buttocks with the purpose to arouse or gratify. They then asked Clinton: Did you have sex with Gennifer Flowers? Clinton replied: Yes. On how many occasions? Once, in 1977. Did she make sexual advances to you after that? Once. Did you make sexual advances to her after that? No.
The new information may help to explain the President's apparently contradictory statements over the last six years about his relationship with Flowers. In 1992, on "Sixty Minutes," he denied her claim of a 12-year affair, but acknowledged causing "pain" in his marriage to Hillary Rodham Clinton. After the President's deposition two weeks ago, there were reports that he had admitted to having a sexual relationship with Flowers, something he had not stated explicitly before. Last week, White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry tried to reconcile these accounts — while still following a gag order — with a heavily lawyered, one-sentence explanation: "The President knows that he told the truth in 1992 when he was asked about that relationship, and he knows that he testified truthfully on Saturday, and he knows his answers are not at odds."
It sounded impossible at the time. But now, several sources suggest that the broad definition of sex used by Jones' lawyers — when coupled with Clinton's answer — could mean that Clinton's one admitted encounter with Flowers could have constituted as little as a pat on the bottom (though of course, it could have been more). Clinton has told friends that he groped Flowers in a bar where she sang, and that they "fooled around," but insists they had no ongoing relationship.