James McDougal On CNN's Larry King Live
Transcript April 21, 1997
KING: We are back with James McDougal. Yesterday, big story in "The New York Times" about Clinton and his friends. And when they -- something wrong goes, he is not a friend anymore. Did you read that story?
MCDOUGAL: No, I don't read "The New York Times."
KING: You don't read "The New York Times?"
MCDOUGAL: We don't get it in Arkadelphia.
KING: Tell them all about it. It's published in New York.
KING: It's been around.
KING: They deliver it with roses on Sunday.
MCDOUGAL: Oh, OK.
KING: Home delivery. They've got a new plan.
MCDOUGAL: I will go for that.
KING: OK. Did -- it said in the sense that if something breaks, the president leaves you and others like that. You feel dangling?
MCDOUGAL: Do you feel the president is that kind of person, because he was your friend a long time?
MCDOUGAL: Well, I don't think I'm dangling. I think I have hit rock bottom. But I think there is a tendency for him to run away from friends when they are in trouble.
KING: Desert the sinking ship?
MCDOUGAL: Or if they are just no longer useful.
KING: So a user?
MCDOUGAL: Yes, I think so.
KING: In other words, would he have done for Susan McDougal what she is doing for him?
MCDOUGAL: He wouldn't fix a parking ticket for Susan.
KING: This all started with you, right? This whole Whitewater thing with you and, the suit with Tucker?
MCDOUGAL: Yes, five years ago.
KING: Would you bring us quickly up to date, because everybody knows about it. By the way, not many people appear greatly interested in this Whitewater thing.
KING: What happened? What did you do to -- that we all know about this?
MCDOUGAL: Well, it started out that I was willing to sue Governor Tucker, because I felt that he had beat my mother out of money.
KING: Nothing to do with Whitewater?
MCDOUGAL: No, nothing to do with Whitewater. No Democrat would take the -- take the lawsuit. No Democratic lawyer. So I went to a Republican lawyer. I think he called Jeff Girth at "The New York Times," and it just got started, and snowballed, and snowballed, and snowballed, and I can't explain it.
KING: Are you saying, then, if Tucker had not done that that you perceived to your mother, was it?
MCDOUGAL: Yes. If Tucker hadn't done that, he would still be governor.
KING: There would be no Whitewater.
MCDOUGAL: There will be no Whitewater and I wouldn't be on way to jail.
KING: You regret?
MCDOUGAL: No, I don't. I -- you were talking about being angry at the president. I was incensed with Tucker, who was an older friend than Clinton. I was incensed about what he did to my mother who, by the way, was blind, helpless.
KING: He, the governor did something to your mother?
KING: Of a financial nature?
MCDOUGAL: Fifty-nine thousand dollars, which was a lot of money to her.
KING: You mean he...
MCDOUGAL: He did, yes. But then there is a pay day someday. He is -- he has been convicted.
KING: Did you know that the Republican lawyer you retained would call the "The New York Times?"
MCDOUGAL: No. I didn't -- I don't think I needed him to do that. Because I had worked for United States senator. I knew how to call the press.
KING: Why did the Whitewater thing come up in discussion with lawyers, since you are only there to talk about your mother?
MCDOUGAL: Because I think then we got into the question of -- we have been lingering for years of the Clintons, not delivering the Whitewater stock to me. If you recall, this went on for years, finally resolved after he was elected president. And I brought that up. And we somehow got that enmeshed in it. And I don't know. It grew like topsy.
KING: We'll be back with more. We'll be including your phone calls. This is LARRY KING LIVE. Don Imus from New York on Thursday. Don't go away.
KING: He will begin a prison sentence June 16, but is appealing a whole sentence or just the portion based on?
MCDOUGAL: Whole thing.
KING: Whole thing? He will go to a medical facility. James McDougal is our guest. We will be getting your calls in a couple minutes. Tie up some strings here. Was the case about your mother resolved?
MCDOUGAL: No. She died. And it wasn't resolved.
KING: And the governor like...
MCDOUGAL: He still has her money.
KING: He, he, the governor took her money?
MCDOUGAL: Yes. He wasn't governor at the time. He was...
KING: What was he?
MCDOUGAL: ...her attorney.
KING: Oh, it was an attorney-client thing?
MCDOUGAL: Yes, yes.
KING: And he cheated her in your view?
KING: And that is what started this whole...
MCDOUGAL: Right. That is how this whole thing started. We wouldn't be here otherwise.
KING: The meeting with Hale, the governor -- Clinton is pressuring Hale to loan the money to your wife, right? .
KING: Out of goodness of his heart? Why is he pressuring Hale to loan money, $300,000 to Susan McDougal?
MCDOUGAL: Never understood that.
KING: You were there. Must have come up.
KING: I mean, someone must have said -- what's your interest.
MCDOUGAL: First of all, you have three confidence men involved in this conversation. And a good con man can say more with a wink and nod.
KING: The three con men -- Hale, McDougal and Clinton?
KING: Susan is the only nonconperson?
MCDOUGAL: Well, she is not present anyway. If she...
KING: She was not there.
KING: Why does the governor want a loan?
MCDOUGAL: If three people like that, we can say more with a wink and nod and a story can be in 300 pages. I assume that he wanted to have Susan. I hadn't asked him to come to the meeting. Hale didn't ask him to come.
KING: He came on his own?
MCDOUGAL: He just showed up.
KING: How did he know there was a meeting?
MCDOUGAL: That is the question I'd like to know the answer to.
KING: The governor comes to a meeting between you...
MCDOUGAL: We walk out in front yard go through with our -- Hale and I had a reason to have meeting.
KING: Right, for money.
MCDOUGAL: We had -- and discussing a shopping center on some land we owned. Different things.
KING: A deal.
MCDOUGAL: Yes, a deal or two deals. We walked out front. And we are through. And suddenly governor arrives. And he says, did you discuss Susan's loan? I was -- you know -- oh, I was flabbergasted. I still am. I don't know how he got there, why he was there, who asked him to come there.
MCDOUGAL: Only thing I can think of.
KING: Who else would?
MCDOUGAL: I can't think of.
KING: Was there any other primary involved?
MCDOUGAL: There are only four of us involved.
KING: Do you have the suspicion that they were involved in relationship and Susan then asked him to please go and help her?
MCDOUGAL: That has been suggest to me repeatedly. I try tot to believe that.
KING: All right. What's the second belief?
MCDOUGAL: I have no idea. There are just mysteries in this even to be.
KING: You scared of prison?
MCDOUGAL: No. I don't so.
KING: Why not?
MCDOUGAL: If it is too rough, I will die. And then look at paperwork they will have.
KING: We'll be back with your phone calls for James McDougal on LARRY KING LIVE. Stay right there.
KING: We're in Washington on LARRY KING LIVE, with James McDougal. Before we go to calls, do you know Vince Foster?
KING: What do you think happened? Why do you think he killed himself? You could have any thoughts you like.
MCDOUGAL: Well, I'd seen Vince when I bought the Clintons' stock in late '92.
KING: What Clinton stock...
MCDOUGAL: In Whitewater. And he seemed to be very depressed, very dejected at that time. And I suppose it was just a culmination of effect, one thing on top of another. Just the headaches, and he's a very straightforward man, very upright man, and I just think he was unaccustomed to the kind of savage criticism that the press is capable of dealing out.
KING: Was he already on post in Washington when you saw him?
MCDOUGAL: No, this was before the inauguration.
KING: He was still with the Rose Law Firm?
KING: So, do you think he didn't want that job?
MCDOUGAL: The job of coming over...
MCDOUGAL: Oh, he was very embarrassed. He kept saying over and over, "I am just a messenger," which he -- he was not happy to be involved in it.
KING: Because you have had depression, right?
MCDOUGAL: Oh, yes.
KING: So you can certainly understand someone with it?
KING: Would you say he was depressed?
MCDOUGAL: I would say he was clinically depressed when I saw him.
KING: Therefore you weren't shocked when he killed himself?
KING: Do you know do you think he knew something was going to happen?
MCDOUGAL: Well, I think he had a lot of worries. I think he knew there were problems with Web, there were problems with Whitewater, there were problems with Hillary.
KING: But none of them involved he being indicted or anything, right? He was just the messenger.
MCDOUGAL: Nope. But I think he was not only the messenger, I think he was the doctor. I think the problems were being dumped on him by Mrs. Clinton.
KING: Making him the fall guy?
MCDOUGAL: No, for him to have to resolve them, and it just kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger, beyond human capacity.
KING: In other words, if a problem came in to the First Lady or someone...
MCDOUGAL: Trouble, yeah.
KING: Give it to Vince.
MCDOUGAL: It went to Vince.
KING: You were very sad then?
KING: You liked him a lot.
MCDOUGAL: I liked him. Everyone liked him.
KING: How's the press treated you in all of this?
MCDOUGAL: They have been so fair it's unbelievable. I have no complaints whatsoever.
KING: You say that surprisingly. How about Bob Franken? Our man on the Hill? He's inside your jacket.
MCDOUGAL: Well, Bob Franken has been around so much I feel like we grew up together. I mean I have been seeing him for five years, and he knows where I live. He can track me down at my house trailer, so I can't get away him.
KING: He's an Arkansan.
MCDOUGAL: Yes he is, great fella.
KING: Let's take some calls. Birmingham, Alabama for Jim McDougal.
CALLER, ALABAMA: Yes, hello.
KING: Go ahead.
CALLER: What influence, if any, Mr. McDougal, did the Republican Party have on your decision in rolling over on the president?
MCDOUGAL: Uh -- I don't talk to Republicans, so they had no influence whatsoever.
KING: So -- no right wing or Republican or any group or...
MCDOUGAL: No. I have never had a conversation with any Republican Party leader, or any leader of the so-called right wing. I was just raised talking to Democrats and that's -- those are the folks I visit with.
KING: Are you uncomfortable being a kind of darling of the Republicans today?
MCDOUGAL: Well, I'm...
KING: The "Washington Times" likes you!
KING: Crazy here -- I mean, are you uncomfortable with that?
MCDOUGAL: Well, I don't think I am a hero to anybody. I think I am a very poor example to everyone and shouldn't be held up or glorified by the "Washington Times" or anyone else.
KING: Do you think Mr. Clinton might say -- President Clinton might say -- you know, Jim, got me started in this whole thing to begin with. He's the one that called me about Whitewater. I don't know from land deals -- McDougal took me down this stream.
MCDOUGAL: Well, he might say that, but it was a very comfortable trip down the stream.
KING: Ann Arbor, Michigan. Hello? Hello? I think it's this one.
CALLER, MICHIGAN: Are you surprised at...
KING: Yes. Go ahead.
CALLER: Yes, Mr. McDougal?
MCDOUGAL: Yes, ma'am.
CALLER: Are you surprised at all by the allegations made by Paula Jones?
MCDOUGAL: No, ma'am.
KING: Not surprised?
MCDOUGAL: I am not surprised.
KING: Do you think the -- but you do -- do you think the president, if there is a trial, it should happen after his presidency?
MCDOUGAL: I am not a legal scholar. I really couldn't say. However, when I taught constitutional law, I thought I told my classes that no man is above the law -- certainly, that's the English Common Law.
KING: Tell me about this president who you lied for on this program...
KING: Stood up for, praised, voted for...
KING: Friend of.
MCDOUGAL: Gave money.
KING: Give us an overview of him. Some traits.
MCDOUGAL: Well, I think that he has the ability to ingratiate himself to the people by making people feel sorry for him, to appear vulnerable to people, to be everybody's little brother, and he's an extremely, extremely likable guy.
KING: In other words, he could be with you tonight, and you'd like him.
MCDOUGAL: Oh, yeah.
KING: And is that...
MCDOUGAL: I have never had an unpleasant conversation with him. I have always enjoyed every minute I have been with him.
KING: Are you saying that's phony?
MCDOUGAL: It appears real to me.
KING: But is it phony?
MCDOUGAL: Well if it's phony, it's a long-running act, because I have never seen the facade crack.
KING: If it's not phony, what's the default?
MCDOUGAL: I can't point out any defect.
KING: Except you said he...
MCDOUGAL: Well, any defect...
KING: He lied, he deserts a sinking ship. I mean he lied...
MCDOUGAL: I'm sorry. I thought you were asking me about did I see him defect in his demeanor, or the way he carried out his personality.
KING: No, any defect in him.
MCDOUGAL: Oh, I'd say that he's about as defective as the rest of us. I don't think he's anything unique. You know, we're talking about lying. I take that very seriously, I lied. I have a great deal of remorse, but you know, there are lies told in this town.
KING: You're kidding!
MCDOUGAL: If I had an (inaudible) for a lie, he'd be speaker of the House.
KING: White House Point, Florida. Hello.
CALLER, FLORIDA: Yes, good evening, Mr. McDougal.
CALLER: If you could speak to the president right now, face to face, what would you tell him or ask him?
MCDOUGAL: I would say, Mr. President, tell Susan McDougal to answer the question posed before the grand jury so she can be released from the hell hole of the Los Angeles County jail.
KING: In other words, the president should make a personal request of your ex-wife.
MCDOUGAL: Just answer the question.
KING: Susan, answer the question.
KING: Don't worry.
MCDOUGAL: Right, yes. She'd be out of jail immediately.
KING: You may think he's going to get me in trouble, but you should not be in jail.
MCDOUGAL: Right, right.
KING: But she can't take calls. A little joke there, folks. I think he'd get through.
We'll be back with more of LARRY -- we'll be right back.
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