- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 13, 2002

Independent counsel Robert W. Ray, who said he had enough evidence to convict President Clinton in the Monica Lewinsky investigation but cut a deal instead to avoid a trial, resigned yesterday.
He is expected to run for a U.S. Senate seat in New Jersey.
Mr. Ray told a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that oversees the independent counsel's office that the investigation was "substantially completed" and "it was time for me to return home to my family in New Jersey, and I look forward to new challenges ahead for me there."
Julie F. Thomas, a federal prosecutor and former deputy independent counsel, was sworn in yesterday as Mr. Ray's successor during a private ceremony at the U.S. District Court in Washington. She will oversee the remaining work, which includes responding to attorney-fee petitions and closing the office.
"During the course of my tenure, with the help of my colleagues, we have done our best to be thorough and fair," Mr. Ray said. "This office has concluded all of our mandates and filed all of our final reports, and have done so in what I believe was a prompt, responsible and cost-effective manner."
Mr. Ray, who succeeded Kenneth W. Starr 29 months ago, is legally prohibited from seeking office while a federal prosecutor. But he has been busy over the past two months preparing to run for the Republican nomination to challenge Sen. Robert G. Torricelli of New Jersey, the incumbent Democrat.
Although he has made no public comments on the senatorial race, Mr. Ray has met with Republican leaders in the state and talked with top Republican operatives and fund-raisers. He indirectly attacked Mr. Torricelli during a Republican fund-raiser last month a move that brought condemnation from Democrats, including Rep. John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee.
The filing deadline in New Jersey is April 8.
Last week, Mr. Ray said in a report on the Lewinsky investigation that prosecutors had concluded that "sufficient evidence existed to prosecute and that such evidence would probably be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction" on criminal charges that Mr. Clinton falsely denied having sexual relations with Miss Lewinsky.
The report said the evidence included admissions by Mr. Clinton that he gave false answers under oath concerning his relationship with Miss Lewinsky, then a 22-year-old intern.
Mr. Clinton admitted to intentional misconduct and entered into an "Agreed Order of Discipline," acknowledging to a court in Arkansas, where he obtained his law license, he did not tell the truth about his relationship with Miss Lewinsky. The report said Mr. Clinton lied in a deposition presided over by U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright in a sexual-misconduct lawsuit filed by former Arkansas state employee Paula Jones.
According to the report, Mr. Ray determined there was sufficient evidence to prosecute Mr. Clinton on criminal charges and to win a conviction but concluded that further proceedings against the president for his misconduct "should not be initiated."
That decision, the report said, was based on Mr. Clinton's admission of false testimony in the Jones suit, his acknowledgment that his conduct violated the Rules of Professional Conduct of the Arkansas Supreme Court, the five-year suspension of his law license and the payment of a $25,000 fine to the Pulaski County Circuit Court in Arkansas.
Also, the report said, prosecutors considered the facts that Mr. Clinton paid a $90,000 civil contempt penalty ordered by Judge Wright, that he paid $850,000 in a settlement to Mrs. Jones, that a federal court found he had engaged in "contemptuous conduct" and "the substantial public condemnation of President Clinton arising from his impeachment."
Mr. Clinton was impeached by the House, but the Senate later acquitted him deadlocking 50-50 on an obstruction of justice charge and voting 55-45 to clear him of perjury.


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