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Susan McDougal Defends Her Refusal to Testify

Whitewater: White House did not influence her decision to go to jail rather than answer questions from a grand jury, the defendant says.

September 07, 1996|From Associated Press

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Whitewater figure Susan McDougal said Friday that her decision to go to jail rather than testify before a grand jury was made with no urging from the White House.

"This has nothing to do with the White House or Bill Clinton or anybody else," McDougal said before boarding a plane to Los Angeles. Whitewater prosecutors "have ruined my life. Don't people understand that I might take it a little personally?"

A federal judge Wednesday found McDougal in contempt of court for refusing to answer questions about the president before the Whitewater grand jury and ordered her jailed Monday for up to 18 months unless she testifies.

When asked Friday night on CNN's "Larry King Live" if she was scared about the prospects of going to jail, she said: "I'm sure by Monday morning I'll get scared, but right now I am so angry. I can't believe this is America. I can't believe this is my country. I can't believe this is my government. And I can't believe this is happening to me."

McDougal said nothing would make her talk.

Her lawyer, Bobby McDaniel, also said he had no contact with the White House about his client's refusal to testify. He said a lawyer for the president "only called to express compassion for Susan."

"The White House is not pulling my strings," McDaniel said.

McDougal was sentenced last month to two years in prison, beginning Sept. 30, for misusing a $300,000 loan--$25,000 of which prosecutors say went toward the purchase of land for the Whitewater venture.

McDougal said prosecutors harassed her in an effort to obtain incriminating information against the president and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, who were Whitewater partners with McDougal and her ex-husband.

"I feel like I've been run over by a $60-million bulldozer trying to get to Bill Clinton," she said. "And the operator of that bulldozer just wants to ask me a few questions? I don't understand why nobody gets it."

McDougal refused to answer questions before the grand jury about whether Clinton knew about the loan or the land deal. Clinton testified at her trial that he did not.

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On Friday, McDougal said only that she didn't know of any wrongdoing by the Clintons.

"I'm not hiding anything for the Clintons, and they haven't been helping me one bit," she said on CNN.

The sentencing of her former husband, James B. McDougal, on bank fraud and conspiracy charges has been postponed amid word that he is cooperating with prosecutors.

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