White House: No Fair!

  • Share
  • Read Later
WASHINGTON: Bill Clinton got the last word Wednesday in the pretrial tit-for-tat with the House when the White House filed its defense brief with the Senate. So what exactly is the last word? "Foul!" "This is the entry point for what will be the White House's main theme for the trial: fairness," says TIME White House correspondent Jay Branegan. "And they have some good arguments." Among them: that perjury in the Paula Jones deposition didn't pass the House as an article of impeachment, but has mysteriously reappeared in Henry Hyde's filings to the Senate as part of the obstruction of justice charge.

Special Report Tuesday evening, White House spokesman Joe Lockhart called it "new bundling and interpretations of the charges against the President at this late date." But as Branegan points out, the White House walks a fine line when it lashes out at the process. "This brief has to avoid the legal hairsplitting that no one seems to like," he says. "Clinton has to mollify the Senate by showing that he understands the seriousness of this -- that he respects the jury, at least, if not the prosecutors." And that he respects the truth. After a year of legal contortions, it could be a tough case to make.