World and Nation

Wolfowitz Hires Big-Name Lawyer For World Bank Position Defense

Paul D. Wolfowitz, signaling anew that he will fight for his job as World Bank president, has enlisted a prominent lawyer who defended President Bill Clinton against accusations of sexual misconduct to help convince the bank's board that Wolfowitz has done nothing to justify being ousted.

Robert S. Bennett, the lawyer selected by Wolfowitz, said in an interview that before the bank's board acts on charges of ethical lapses, he and Wolfowitz wanted more time to prepare a case showing that the bank president had acted properly on all matters that the board is investigating.

"I am very worried about the rush to judgment," Bennett said. "We just had a wonderful example of that in the Duke lacrosse case. I have reviewed the essential documents, and I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that Mr. Wolfowitz exercised good faith and that everything he did was in the best interests of the bank."

It was unclear whether Wolfowitz intended to pay his legal fees himself or whether he would seek reimbursement from the bank. His latest sign of apparent determination to keep his job came as the furor over his record continued to spread.

Bank officials said that after several days of canvassing hundreds of employees, about 25 vice presidents of the bank were preparing to document that the overwhelming majority of the employees favor Wolfowitz's departure.

The vice presidents met with Wolfowitz in the afternoon and some bank officials said that they would present their conclusions about bank sentiment to the board of directors, the 24 representatives of various countries and groups of countries that run the bank's day-to-day affairs in tandem with the president.

The Financial Times reported Monday that the independent agency within the bank that assesses the effectiveness of bank programs concluded last week that "swift changes in management" were needed to restore its credibility.