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Lawyers are amazed that Bill Clinton has not denied the accuracy of
Monica Lewinsky’s testimony about their relationship. “Admission by
Silence” is one of the most devastating rules of evidence. The idea is
simple, clear and powerful. When someone accuses you of doing something
bad or illegal in a legal proceeding, you must deny it or your failure
to do so will be construed as an admission to the truth of the
allegations.

A perfect example of the power of “Admission by Silence” occurred
during the President’s press conference at the Department of State
Wednesday. Terrence Hunt, a reporter for the Associated Press, asked the
President two important questions with such clarity that no wiggle room
was left. “Is Monica Lewinsky’s account to the events accurate and
truthful? Did you lie?”

Bill Clinton did not answer either question directly. Given the
serious allegations made about by Monica Lewinsky, his failure to say
“what she says happened did not happen” is a damning admission that all
of what she says is accurate. Part of Clinton’s problem may
be that she is essentially accurate, but to describe the minor errors
would require him to admit in public to specific acts that he declined
to testify about before the Grand Jury. He may also be afraid that
anything he says before he is called to testify before the U.S. House of
Representatives Judiciary Committee Impeachment Inquiry may deepen his
trouble.

Whatever his reasons, here, silence is not golden. Bill Clinton’s
refusal to contradict Monica Lewinsky’s “fact statement” leaves lawyers
with no choice but to accept them as accurate and validated by the
President. Clinton’s validation of Monica’s narrative makes the chances
of impeachment much, much higher. Because lying in a
sexual harassment law suit to obstruct justice is a felony that more
than meets the test of high crimes and misdemeanors.

The ultimate irony is that since Bill Clinton is a Yale-trained
lawyer, he can’t argue ignorance of the law. This is one rule of
evidence that even Yale law students
learn.

John Doggett was a Yale Law classmate of Bill and Hillary Clinton.
He testified for Clarence Thomas in 1991. He currently is an Austin,
Texas, management consultant, radio talk show host and University of
Texas at Austin adjunct assistant professor of
management.

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