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NOW Ponders Filing Brief for Jones

April 20, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The National Organization for Women is considering whether to file a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of Paula Jones in her lawsuit against President Clinton.

Patricia Ireland, head of NOW, said today the organization is in the process of consulting with its 500 chapters across the country to determine whether filing the brief would help the greater cause of women in the workplace.

``What we are talking about is the strategy of having women-friendly workplaces and schools, not just for Paula Jones in this case, but for all women in the workplace or in school,″ she said on ABC’s ``Good Morning America. ″ ``So we’re looking, for instance, at whether this is the right case.″

Attorneys for Mrs. Jones said Sunday they are seeking support from national women’s groups for her case in which she alleges that Clinton exposed himself to her in a hotel room in 1991 when he was governor of Arkansas and she was a state employee.

A federal judge dismissed the suit April 1. Mrs. Jones plans to appeal.

Feminist groups largely have been silent on the matter. Ireland said today that initial attempts to offer their support were rejected by Mrs. Jones.

``In this case, Paula Jones chose her forum, which was federal district court, and she also chose her friends,″ Ireland said. ``She rebuffed our efforts to help her and went with the right wing.″

Ireland denied that her group was siding with the Clinton administration by not speaking out in support of Mrs. Jones earlier, saying that she has never shied away from taking on the White House. Instead, she said, the organization’s main consideration is whether the case will further the interests of women nationwide.

``In this highly charged, political and partisan case, we may not see this ... as the best way to improve the lot of women in the workplace,″ Ireland said. ``We don’t want bad law made, and I certainly don’t trust the right-wingers who are judging the strategy on this case.″

Meanwhile, Linda Tripp, the Pentagon employee whose secret tape recordings launched the investigation into co-worker Monica Lewinsky’s alleged affair with Clinton, fears she is going to lose her job, her attorney says.

``Linda has chosen to tell the truth. That has put her in a tremendously tough situation and she is now the subject of vilification by all the supporters of the president,″ Anthony Zaccagnini said Sunday on ABC’s ``This Week.″

He said his client, a Clinton political appointee, unfairly has been labeled a ``betrayer″ and now thinks she is going to be fired.

Former White House deputy chief of staff Harold Ickes issued a quick rebuttal, telling CNN’s ``Late Edition:″ ``I don’t think the White House has been vilifying her.″

Tripp has worked from her suburban Maryland home since the Lewinsky controversy erupted in January. Zaccagnini said she twice has asked to return to her former office at the Pentagon but that officials have refused.

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Anthony Cooper, a Defense Department spokesman, declined to comment on Tripp’s request but he said she remains as a public affairs specialist.

Tripp, who earns $88,000 annually, no longer directs a civilian orientation program, but is drafting an operating manual for the program, which is designed to raise public understanding of defense issues.

``She’s preparing a booklet that tells them how to run the program she used to run,″ Zaccagnini said.

Does she believe she is going to be fired?

``Absolutely,″ the lawyer replied.

Zaccagnini said Tripp likely would be called within weeks to testify as a grand jury witness in independent counsel Kenneth Starr’s investigation of the affair that Ms. Lewinsky allegedly had with Clinton when she was a White House intern.

According to news reports, Ms. Lewinsky confided to Tripp that she had a sexual relationship with Clinton and was encouraged to cover it up. But in an affidavit filed in Mrs. Jones’ sexual harassment lawsuit against the president, Ms. Lewinsky denied having a such a relationship. Clinton also has denied the allegation.

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