Clinton Held in Contempt

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LITTLE ROCK: One more historic black eye for Bill Clinton: Judge Susan Webber Wright, the same Arkansas judge who once gave the President's credibility a huge lift when she dismissed the Paula Jones case, threw the book at Clinton late Monday for obstruction of justice. "The court takes no pleasure whatsoever in holding this nation's President in contempt of court," she wrote, becoming the first judge to do so in the nation's history -- yet her scathing 32-page ruling pulled nary a punch. "The record demonstrates by clear and convincing evidence that the President responded to plaintiff's questions by giving false, misleading and evasive answers that were designed to obstruct the judicial process," the ruling reads. "The President acknowledged as much in his public admission that he 'misled people.'"

The immediate upshot: For dodging those questions in January about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky and "not remembering" if he'd been alone with her (as well as talking to Betty Currie about testimony), Clinton must pay $1,200 to reimburse Judge Wright's expenses incurred conducting Clinton's Jones case deposition and also fork over, possibly in the tens of thousands of dollars, for Jones' legal expenses. In the longer term, the ruling is sure to whet Ken Starr's appetite for a post-term perjury prosecution. Wright was careful to note that she went easy on her former professor; she dismissed the case, after all, and he's got plenty of presidential stuff to do these days. In a post-impeachment Washington with war on its mind, one more Clinton epithet -- the legalistic "contumacious" -- is unlikely to make much of a splash. "False, misleading and evasive?" Heck, we've known that about him for years.