WASHINGTON — Bill Clinton's presidential library won't publicly release memos and notes Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan wrote about the sexual harassment lawsuit that triggered Clinton's impeachment.
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Kagan was involved in defending Clinton in the lawsuit brought by ex-Arkansas state worker Paula Jones, according to documents released Friday. Clinton's testimony for the Jones lawsuit, denying a sexual relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, led to his impeachment.
The library held back several of Kagan's memos to Clinton's top advisers in the case, saying that publicly releasing them would divulge confidential advice. They were turned over to the Senate Judiciary Committee that will hold hearings on Kagan's nomination, however.
It's clear from files that were made public that Kagan had a hand in the Jones case. In a September 1996 memo, Kagan writes that she's been in touch with other lawyers on a brief in the Jones lawsuit and, "I am happy with the direction they seem to be taking."
Earlier that year, she forwards to colleagues a brief written by then-Solicitor General Walter Dellinger supporting Clinton's bid to postpone the civil trial until after he had left office.
"It's really pretty good," Kagan says of Dellinger's brief. She notes approvingly that the brief "downplays" the question of whether the president should have immunity for conduct before he took office, and instead focuses on the argument that the case should be delayed because it would disrupt the performance of Clinton's duties as chief executive.
The White House said Kagan, who didn't focus on litigation matters, played only a tangential role in both the Jones case and the Whitewater investigation of Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton's financial dealings.
"Kagan's work focused principally on providing legal advice to the policy and legislative staff," said White House spokesman Josh Earnest. Her "work on Whitewater and Paula Jones involved reviewing legal pleadings, assisting in response to document requests, and offering legal research on short-term projects."
Clinton could have chosen to keep the records off-limits entirely, Earnest said, but instead gave them to the Senate panel "in the interest of transparency."
The papers are part of a roughly 40,000-page cache of records released Friday, most related to Kagan's stint in the White House counsel's office in 1995 and 1996.
Clinton settled the Jones case before trial. Although the House impeached him on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, the Senate rejected both counts.
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