Susan McDougal Faces Another Grand Jury Appearance
Judge refuses her attempt to quash subpoena
By Terry Frieden/CNN
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (April 22) -- In an emergency hearing, Judge Susan Webber Wright paved the way for Susan McDougal to testify before the Whitewater grand jury Thursday morning.
Wright denied a request by McDougal's attorney, Mark Geragos, to
prevent or delay her testimony. But she did express concerns about the Office of Independent Counsel bringing McDougal back merely to ask questions which she refused to answer before the same grand jury in 1996.
Attorney Mark Barrett in Independent Counsel Ken Starr's office assured the judge that in its questioning of McDougal "we will include new material that has been recently produced as part of our universe of questions."
McDougal served 18 months in jail for civil contempt when she refused to talk last time.
McDougal's attorney, Mark Geragos, argued there is a conflict of interest for
Starr to recall McDougal because of a pending investigation of David Hale.
Hale is the government witness who testified against McDougal, and there
are reports that Hale may have been paid by conservative organizations with the
knowledge of Starr's staff while he was a cooperating witness in the Starr investigation.
McDougal was flown from Los Angeles to Little Rock Wednesday by
federal authorities. She is currently serving a two-year sentence for her
Whitewater conviction on fraud charges.
Earlier in the day, Geragos said McDougal would again refuse to answer questions when called to appear Thursday.
On a Little Rock radio talk show, Geragos said McDougal is
willing to answer questions from the Justice Department but not from Starr, who he accused of being corrupt.
"Susan's contempt is not for the system, and not for
Judge Wright, and not for the grand jury. Her contempt is for Starr," Geragos said.
Starr was not available for comment. His deputy in Little
Rock, Hickman Ewing, would likely question McDougal before the grand jury. Ewing said Tuesday night, "I'm not going to comment on anything about her or anything about the grand jury."
McDougal was convicted along with her former husband James McDougal, who died
earlier this year in a federal prison. Former Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker,
who was also convicted in the Whitewater trial for financial transactions in
the 1980's, testified before the same grand jury Tuesday. He testified for about
four hours on what he described as "history that may seem important to some
people but don't seem particularly important to me."