James McDougal's Last Word Is A Tell-All Book
WASHINGTON (AP, May 15) -- Alleged cash payoffs to Bill Clinton of $2,000 a month. A supposed presidential promise to pardon Susan McDougal.
Convicted felon James McDougal, in a new book, fired off one last round of accusations before his death -- all of them denied by the president's Whitewater lawyer.
McDougal's first-person account, written with Boston Globe
reporter Curtis Wilkie, quotes President Clinton as saying in 1996 that "you can depend on that" when McDougal requested a pardon for his former wife.
At the time, Ms. McDougal was in the midst of a bank fraud trial that ended with her conviction on four felony counts. She is serving a two-year prison term and earlier served 18 months for refusing to answer grand jury questions. She was indicted last week on charges of criminal contempt and obstruction.
Clinton lawyer David Kendall called McDougal's accusations
"scurrilous falsehoods" and said McDougal's book, "Arkansas
Mischief," "belongs on the `fiction' side of the aisle."
The Associated Press obtained pre-publication excerpts of the
book Friday. In them, McDougal offered no evidence to corroborate his allegations beyond his own word.
Pardon talk in the White House Map Room
The flamboyant former savings and loan operator once was one of Clinton's staunchest supporters, frequently insisting the president had done nothing wrong in the Whitewater financial dealings.
But after his conviction in 1996 on charges he defrauded his
savings and loan McDougal became a cooperating prosecution witness, turned on Clinton and made several serious allegations against the first family.
He died in prison in March after years of failing health.
McDougal wrote "I knew there was no way" Clinton "could
pardon me without an uproar. But I considered Susan a sympathetic figure."
The book alleges the conversation about a pardon took place in the White House Map Room following the president's videotaped deposition in 1996 for the trial of the McDougals and then-Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker. All three defendants were convicted.
"I know for a fact that Mr. McDougal's statement about his
conversation with the president on April 28, 1996, is absolutely false," Kendall said in a statement. "I was with the president every moment he was in the presence of Mr. McDougal precisely to assure that no one could ever credibly make an outlandish allegation like this."
Payoffs to the governor?
McDougal alleged that in the 1980s, he and a longtime
businessman at McDougal's S&L, Henry Hamilton, "developed a system to pass money to Clinton," then governor of Arkansas. "I considered it just another way of helping to take care of Bill.
"A contractor agreed to pad my monthly construction bill by
$2,000," McDougal wrote. "The contractor put the figure on his invoice as a cost for gravel or culvert work. After I paid the full amount ... the contractor reimbursed me the $2,000. I turned the money over to Henry to give to Clinton."
Hamilton is dead.
"Once, after I handed Henry his latest consignment of 20
hundred-dollar bills to relay to the governor's office, he turned the bills over and over in one hand, like a magician," McDougal said. "Henry grinned. `You know,' he said, `Caesar had his Brutus, Charles the First had Cromwell. Clinton could profit from these examples if he crosses us.'"
The alleged $2,000-a-month cash payment and other accusations
"are simply made up out of whole cloth," Kendall declared.
McDougal wrote that Hamilton "insisted that under-the-table
payments would solidify our connections in state government." He said Clinton appointed his recommended candidates to state jobs, including state securities commissioner.
Looking out for lover's interests?
Kendall pointed out that a previous McDougal accusation that
turns up again in the book -- that Clinton urged Whitewater figure David Hale to make a fraudulent $300,000 loan -- was contradicted by McDougal's own testimony at his 1996 criminal trial.
In the book, McDougal said one of Ms. McDougal's brothers, Jim Henley, witnessed a meeting in which Clinton allegedly urged Hale to make the fraudulent loan.
McDougal said Clinton appeared unexpectedly at the end of a
meeting where the loan was discussed and asked, "Did you discuss Susan's loan?"
"How did Bill know about Susan's loan?" McDougal wrote. "Why
did he care about the loan?" McDougal said he concluded that
Clinton and Ms. McDougal had resumed an affair "and she had asked him to make it clear to David Hale, the man he had appointed judge, that the governor was interested in Susan's loan application."