Charles Ruff Dead at 61

ByABC News
November 20, 2000, 2:45 AM

W A S H I N G T O N, Nov. 20 -- Charles Ruff, the powerful Washington lawyerwho represented President Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky sexscandal and his impeachment trial, died Sunday. He was 61.

White House spokesman Jake Siewert said Clinton was told thatRuff had died after an accident at his Washington home. Details ofthe accident were not available.

All of us at the White House admired Chuck for the power ofhis advocacy, the wisdom of his judgment and the strength of hisleadership. We loved him for his generous spirit and his keen witwhich he used to find humor in even the most challengingcircumstances, Clinton said in a statement issued aboard AirForce One during his return flight to Washington after his historicvisit to Vietnam.

Ruff had used a wheelchair since contracting a rare tropicalparalyzing disease while teaching law in Africa in the 1960s.

How CanI Help you, Mr. President?

After building a career representing powerful political figuresand, occasionally, their adversaries, Ruff was asked by Clinton in1997 to become his chief legal adviser. At the time, Clinton wasbeing investigated by independent prosecutor Kenneth Starr forpossible wrongdoing in an Arkansas land deal.

The investigation, known as Whitewater because of the name ofthe land development scheme in which Clinton and his wife werepartners, soon expanded to include his affair with Lewinsky, aformer White House intern. Starrs investigation led to the Houseimpeaching Clinton in December 1998 on charges that the presidenthad lied under oath when questioned about the affair and obstructedjustice.

In an interview with the New York Daily News, Ruff said hisdecision to serve Clinton was no choice at all.

When the president of the United States asks you to dosomething you dont say, Let me think about it. You say, How canI help you, Mr. President?

Represented Anita Hill

Ruff represented Anita Hill in her sexual harassment accusationsagainst Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. He also representedSens. Charles Robb and John Glenn when they were embroiled inscandals and former White House aide Ira Magaziner.