The White House denied Sunday that President Clinton and his legal team had obstructed justice, as Paula Jones' lawyers allege in her sexual harassment suit against the president.
The administration officials also dismissed as outrageous a hearsay account that Clinton might have sexually assaulted a woman 20 years ago. That allegation was included in the court filing made by Mrs. Jones' lawyers this weekend.
Clinton aides said lawyers for Mrs. Jones, who is suing Clinton claiming sexual misconduct while he was governor of Arkansas and she was a state employee, filed the obstruction charge Saturday to cover their own mishandling of a document request.
At issue are copies of letters, notes and telephone logs involving Clinton and former White House aide Kathleen E. Willey, who alleged March 15 on "60 Minutes" that Clinton groped her outside the Oval Office in 1993.
Mrs. Jones' legal team had directed Clinton in December to turn over any correspondence and communication with Mrs. Willey as part of the pretrial process known as discovery.
The White House responded Jan. 15 that it had "no such documents," lawyers for Mrs. Jones said in a court filing in Little Rock, Ark., Saturday.
But after the "60 Minutes" program, the White House released a series of notes, letters and telephone messages involving Mrs. Willey.
In denying the obstruction charge, presidential aides insisted Mrs. Jones' legal team had sought the documents from Clinton personally rather than making a broader request to the White House.
"What the Jones' lawyers are trying to do is, having poorly served legally their client, Paula Jones, they're now trying to just basically camouflage that failure . . . and blame the White House," White House adviser Rahm Emanuel said on "Fox News Sunday."