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McDougal Cooperating With Whitewater Prosecutors

By Bob Franken/CNN

James McDougal

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Aug. 15) -- Sources tell CNN that negotiations have been underway to try to secure James McDougal's coooperation with the continuing Whitewater prosecutor's investigation in return for possible leniency.

Sources say McDougal has been negotiating with Independent Counsel attorneys -- although not Kenneth Starr himself -- who are leading the investigation aimed in part at Bill and Hillary Clinton's activities in Arkansas in the 1980s.

McDougal and his then-wife Susan were the Whitewater partners of Bill and Hillary Clinton until 1992. McDougal was recently convicted along with his former wife of crimes in a probe led by Starr.

The two of them, along with now-resigned Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker, are scheduled to be sentenced on Monday.

Officials tell CNN they are hopeful the talks can be wrapped up Monday but they're not sure if it that's possible.

In another development in the probes directed at the Clinton White House, the administration has dropped its claim of executive privilege and is making about 2,000 pages of documents related to the 1993 White House travel office firings available to a congressional committee.

House Government and Oversight Committee Chairman William Clinger held a press conference in San Diego, to denounce the timing of the release. "The White House hopes the media will be distracted from the bad news, and will 'deep six' this and other miscellaneous misdeeds," he told reporters. "If there has been an attempt to airbrush out the involvement of the First Lady, then it becomes a more serious matter," Clinger added.

Clinger's committee subpoenaed approximately 4,000 documents on Jan. 11 as part of his committee's continuing investigation of the travel office firings.

The White House countered the request on May 30 with a claim of executive privilege. Since that time, the committee and the administration have debated the validity of the claim. Clinger was allowed to view a number of the documents and argued that they did not fall under privelage grounds. He also requested the White House release to him the documents without them being altered or portions deleted.

So far, items of interest appear to be notes that indicate some administration officials who were questioned by the independent counsel had their lawyers inform the White House counsel's office of the questions. The counsel's office says this is legal. And there are also apparently some lists that late White House deputy counsel Vince Foster made, including to-do lists and lists of possible Attorney General nominees.

The White House eventually turned over about 2,000 pages, claiming executive privilege for the rest.

Then Clinger set an Aug. 16 deadline for the release of most of the remaining 2,000 documents, threatening to hold administration officials in contempt of Congress.

Sources tell CNN that the committee, after negotiations, has not requested all 2,000 remaining pages, but only those that pertain to three categories:

  • The first is all documents that relate to Foster and his participation in the matter.

  • The second is all records of the debriefings administration officials received following depositions before the committee.

  • The final category is documents reflecting discussion of administration officials as they prepared to go before the committee.

Clinger dropped his request for the documents that pertain to the administration's direct communication with Congressional members and staff and Independent Counsel Starr.

Clinger's office received the documents late Thursday morning by hand delivery and are beginning to review them. Clinger is in San Diego for the Republican convention and was not immediately available for comment.

White House Attorney Mark Fabiani denied the release of the documents reflected a political move as Congress, the president and a majority of Washington press are out of town. "This was Clinger's timeline not ours," Fabiani said. "Perhaps they should have thought of that."

CNN's Sara Ruth contributed to this story.

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