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McDougal Likely To Answer Questions About Clinton During Contempt Trial

She pleads not guilty in latest case

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (May 14) -- When Whitewater figure Susan McDougal testifies in her contempt-of-court trial later this year she will likely answer the questions about President Bill Clinton she refused to answer when asked by Independent Counsel Ken Starr, her lawyer said Thursday.

McDougal pleaded not guilty Thursday to two counts of criminal contempt and one count of obstruction of justice.

McDougal spent 18 months in prison for civil contempt for previously refusing to cooperate with the Whitewater grand jury.

Asked if she would answer Starr's question about whether Clinton did anything wrong, her attorney said it is very likely she will.

"She's always been willing to answer that question to somebody who's interested in hearing the truth," McDougal lawyer Mark Geragos said.

McDougal has said Starr wants her to lie about her former business partners, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and will only charge her with perjury if she tells the truth. Starr says every citizen is obligated to testify when subpoenaed.

"I assume that we'll have 12 people who are interested in hearing the truth," Geragos said, referring to the jury that will hear the contempt trial.

McDougal answered "yes" when U.S. Magistrate Judge H. David Young asked her if she understood the charges against her. The criminal contempt charges were handed down as the final act of the Whitewater grand jury in Little Rock after McDougal refused to answer questions about a check she had written.

Geragos told reporters outside the courthouse he had come into possession of a handwritten note from Jim McDougal, Susan McDougal's late ex-husband husband, which he claimed showed that Jim McDougal was offered immunity if he would lie about Bill Clinton and former Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker.

Geragos said the note says "lie about Clinton, Tucker for immunity."

"The OIC [Office of Independent Counsel] has never wanted to hear the truth," Geragos said.

The trial is scheduled to begin June 22, but Geragos said he expects a delay because of schedule conflicts. He also said he expects federal marshals will agree to take McDougal back to a federal detention center in California while she awaits trial.

Several of McDougal's family members were on hand for Thursday's arraignment, which lasted about five minutes.

The McDougals were partners with the Clintons in the failed Whitewater land development.

Starr had wanted McDougal to tell the grand jury about a $5,081.82 check on which she had written "payoff Clinton." When she refused, the Whitewater grand jury indicted her for criminal contempt.

CNN's Ted Gartner contributed to this report
In Other News

Thursday, May 14, 1998

Secret Service, Starr Battle Before Judge
Rep. Burton's Critics Fall Short Again
McDougal Likely To Answer Questions About Clinton During Contempt
FBI Files: Early Accusations Of J.F.K. Infidelity
Why Is The Government Involved With Microsoft?

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