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McDougal Likens Clintons To 'Tornadoes' (4/15/97)

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FDCH Transcripts

Kenneth Starr, Whitewater independent counsel; Ray Jahn, prosecutor, Whitewater investigation team; James McDougal -- April 14, 1997

STARR: Well, I think that the statement that we made in court speaks for itself. Let me ask Ray, if you would, because Ray has now spent -- along with others, both agents of the FBI and with other lawyers and our staff on a daily basis with Mr. McDougal. So Ray, I would ask you to respond to that, if you would.

JAHN: I believe all we can respond to is generically, which is the information he provided was information he knew, which corroborated some other information, but he also provided some unique information ...

STARR: Could you step up?

RAY: ... that was unknown prior to his cooperation. And it resulted in our ability to discover some documents which corroborated a substantial portion of it.

QUESTION: This information comes within the jurisdiction of the special counsel and that pertains to Mr. McDougal, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, is that right?

STARR: Well, let me speak to that. What we said in court and what I have to emphasize here is that we are under constraints in terms of what we can say publicly, and that's because we're obliged as officers of the court not -- there's certain things we cannot talk about, and the things we cannot talk about are things that have gone before the grand jury of 23 Arkansans. But we have made the judge aware, in camera, with respect to certain aspects of Mr. McDougal's cooperation.

So the judge could take that into account in determining what was a fair and just sentence. But we cannot talk specifically beyond saying, as did I in open court -- if I could just finish that -- that what the original mandate to our office asks us to do is to examine the relationship between three individuals and three entities. Mr. McDougal is one of the three named persons in the original mandate, and we have found his cooperation very helpful to us.

QUESTION: Aren't the Clintons mentioned in that mandate as well?

STARR: The mandate speaks for itself.

QUESTION: Will this information take your investigation into new areas beyond the areas that were covered during Mr. McDougal's trial?

STARR: We have been proceeding to understand fully the activity that is encompassed within our original mandate and he has assisted us and continues to assist us in having a fuller, broader, deeper understanding of that evidence.

And we have said that it has led us to both documents and it has led us to witnesses that information has come to us that was previously unknown to us, previously unknown to us. Mr. Jahn put it exactly in those terms. Moreover, that that information previously unknown to us is known to a very few people.

QUESTION: There was a lot of the talk about telling the truth and becoming cooperative. Webster Hubbell had an opportunity to come forward and be cooperative. Did he not tell the truth when he had a chance?

STARR: Well, I'm not going to characterize what any person involved in this investigation has done. The record -- the question was with respect to Judge Hubbell. The fact of the matter is that we determined, and we determined this in the deliberative process that I speak to with unremitting regularity, that Judge Hubbell had not provided substantial assistance to the investigation.

That was a decision -- that was -- that was a -- (inaudible) I'm not -- the question was will Judge Hubbell have an opportunity to provides further assistance. Every person who has relevant information has that opportunity. We're only a phone call away.


QUESTION: Are you going to ask -- excuse me. Are you finding any problems with the Justice Department in their investigation into campaign finance? Are you guys working together on this?

STARR: I'm not going to comment with respect to another investigation, other than to say that from the very outset, and I spoke to the attorney general of the United States very shortly after the appointment, and throughout this process of my tenure, we have worked independently, but collaboratively with the Justice Department, with regular lines of communication.

We have found those lines of communication helpful, useful, but nonetheless, the independence of our respective functions being established. We have absolutely no quarrel whatsoever with the Justice Department.

QUESTION: Do you think your remarks should put the White House on notice there may be further indictments forthcoming?

STARR: My task today was the task that I entered into on August the 8th of last year, which was to tell Mr. McDougal that we would, as a matter of honor, tell the court in open court what he had done in terms of cooperation with the investigation. And that's the function today, and I'm not going to embellish on that or predictor object.

QUESTION: Is this evidence going to give you a basis for asking this grand jury be extended or another one be impaneled in Washington?

STARR: Today I do not want to speak to grand jury practice, but we will speak to that in the appropriate season.

QUESTION: Are you getting anything from Mr. McDougal that moves you closer to the White House? Are you talking about more transactions?

STARR: I don't want to comment at all with respect to the nature of what Mr. McDougal has said.

QUESTION: Can you give us any sense -- make public the information Mr. McDougal has provided?

STARR: I can't comment.

QUESTION: Mr. McDougal, can you step to the mikes, please?

MCDOUGAL: Watch your form, son, who are you?

QUESTION: Excuse me. I'm sorry, I'm sorry.

MCDOUGAL: It's all right. Thank you. Can't get through. Hey, all right.

QUESTION: I'm not going to stick this in your face.

MCDOUGAL: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Are there any questions?

QUESTION: Jim, your decision to agree with the independent counsel has saved you about 81 years in prison. Why should the American people believe you now as opposed to whether or not they believed you earlier?

MCDOUGAL: Well, I think you mean why should the Commercial Appeal believe me and I don't really give a flip if they do or not.

QUESTION: Why should the American people you?

QUESTION: Jim, you said during the proceedings of your trial last year, that the proceedings would absolve the Clintons of any wrongdoing. Is that statement still operative?

MCDOUGAL: I wouldn't go to the bank on that, Steve.

QUESTION: Mr. McDougal, do you believe the sentence today was fair?

MCDOUGAL: Well, I said when we started the trial however long ago it was, a year ago, that I thought Judge Harold would be fair and I have had no complaint about anything he would do or say, and I think I'd stick with that. I have no real -- I think Judge Harold has been has been very understanding considering the number of charges of which I was convicted.

QUESTION: Do you intend to appeal?

MCDOUGAL: Mr. Heuer (ph) will handle that. I assume we will. I think that's the general form.

QUESTION: Will you be testifying in a criminal trial involving the president or first lady?

MCDOUGAL: I'm not able to make any prediction on that. If I could, I would. I can't help you there.

QUESTION: Is this investigation over for the most part now with your sentencing, or should people be watching for more things to come on down the road?

MCDOUGAL: I'd stay tuned.

QUESTION: Jim, do you think the Clintons broke the law in the 1980s?

MCDOUGAL: I wouldn't want to make judgment on any other persons as to whether or not they broke the law. As you can see I have a little difficulty with laryngitis.

But I'd like some time to think this over. I am -- I'm going to give a commercial to one station, I suppose. I am doing Dateline. Tune in tomorrow night. If there's any enlargement on these facts, I'd be happy to do it at that time. I am happy to see so many people who would probably be drawn to our society are here, and I really hope this is the end of it, because I have enjoyed you enormously. Thank you.

Copyright © 1997 Federal Document Clearing House

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