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Susan McDougal Charged With Contempt

Susan McDougal

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AllPolitics, Sept. 4) -- The judge in the Whitewater grand jury proceedings today held Susan McDougal in contempt of court for refusing to answer three questions from prosecutors, including one concerning whether President Clinton lied in his testimony during her trial earlier this year.

U.S. District Court Judge Susan Webber Wright threatened McDougal with up to 18 months in jail if she continued to defy the order to testify. Wright has given McDougal until Monday to change her mind.

McDougal's lawyer, Bobby McDaniel, told the judge on Tuesday that he was concerned about possible perjury charges down the road for McDougal if she answered prosecutors' questions. Early Wednesday afternoon, Wright made plain her disagreement. "Mrs. McDougal is exercising what she says is her right to silence without good cause," the judge told the courtroom. "She is in contempt."

McDougal and her husband, James McDougal, were convicted in May of bank fraud along with former Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker. She will begin serving a two-year prison term on Sept. 30. Wright put off a decision on whether time served for the comtempt citation would count against McDougal's prison term. The White House declined to comment on today's action against McDougal.

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