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 TIME on politics Congressional Quarterly CNN/AllPolitics CNN/AllPolitics - Storypage, with TIME and Congressional Quarterly

Deputy independent counsel says he wrote 'rough draft indictment' of Hillary Clinton

March 18, 1999
Web posted at: 5:42 p.m. EDT (1742 GMT)

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas (AllPolitics, March 18) -- Deputy independent counsel Hickman Ewing testified at the Susan McDougal trial Thursday that he had written a "rough draft indictment" of first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton after he doubted her truthfulness in a deposition.

Deputy Independent Counsel W. Hickman Ewing Jr. talks to reporters outside of the Little Rock, Ark., federal courthouse Wednesday, March 17, 1999, during a break in the contempt of court and obstruction of justice trial of Whitewater figure Susan McDougal  

Ewing, who questioned Mrs. Clinton in a deposition at the White House on April 22, 1995, said, "I had questions about whether what she was saying were accurate. We had no records. She was in conflict with a number of interviews."

Ewing said those interviews by investigators were primarily with other people in the Rose Law Firm.

Ewing said he had questioned Mrs. Clinton about her representation of Jim McDougal's Madison Guarantee Savings & Loan when she was at the Rose Law firm in Little Rock.

"I don't know if she was telling the truth. I did not circulate the draft. I showed it to one lawyer (in the independent counsel's office) who said he didn't want to see it," Ewing said, under questioning from McDougal attorney Mark Geragos.

In Washington, the first lady's attorney David Kendall, when informed of Ewing's trial testimony, said in a statement: "The mere fact that this prosecutor's office drafted a frivolous indictment three years ago has no significance whatsoever, except as a possible violation of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995."

Ewing was called to the stand as the first defense witness in the McDougal contempt trial. Questions about Ewing's views of the Clintons came as Geragos attempted to show that the independent counsel office had the Clintons in their sights prior to September 1996 when Mrs. McDougal was taken before the Whitewater grand jury.

He did not say what the draft indictment of Mrs. Clinton said.

Ewing also testified that in a later deposition with both the president and first lady on July 22, 1995, he had questions about the truthfulness of both Clintons.

McDougal's attorney Mark Geragos asked Ewing: "Did you say the Clintons were liars?"

"I don't know if I used the 'L-word' but I expressed internally that I was concerned," Ewing said.

Asked about the indictment he drafted, Ewing said, "When you're a prosecutor you always think about what laws are involved: perjury, bank fraud or whatever."

Judge allows Ewing to testify

Ewing, who was subpoenaed on Wednesday, was allowed to testify despite objections from the Office of the Independent Counsel that McDougal's attorney had not adequately explained what he intended to ask Ewing.

However, after a hearing in Judge George Howard Jr.'s chambers, a deal was worked out to allow the questioning of Ewing to go ahead.

McDougal is charged with criminal contempt for refusing to answer questions before a federal grand jury looking into the Whitewater land partnership among McDougal and her late husband, James, and Bill and Hillary Clinton.

The independent counsel's office called its last witness and rested its case Wednesday.

During Wednesday's testimony, John Washam of Jonesboro, Arkansas, the grand jury foreman, testified he had wanted McDougal to testify because "we felt like she had some answers" about a disputed loan to then Gov. Bill Clinton from a bank owned by McDougal and her late ex-husband, James. At the time, the McDougals were partners with the Clintons in the Whitewater investment venture.

Susan McDougal and her fiance, Pat Harris, left, and attorney, Mark Geragos, leave the federal courthouse in Little Rock, Ark., Wednesday, March 17, 1999.  

In cross-examination, Geragos tried to show it was not the grand jury but the independent counsel's office that made the decision to bring McDougal back to the grand jury and indict her when she refused to testify.

In the interim, she had been jailed for 18 months for her 1996 refusal to testify before the same grand jury. That was under a civil contempt order from U.S. District Court Judge Susan Webber Wright.

McDougal claims she has no information pertinent to the Starr's investigation of the first family. She says she refused to answer questions because she believed Starr would twist her words around and use them to suit his own agenda or would charge her with perjury if he did not like what she said.

She also alleges that Starr's deputies used false information from her ex-husband and Hale to pursue their investigation of her and the Clintons.

CNN's Terry Frieden contributed to this report.


Grand juror testifies Starr's prosecutors were not out to get the Clintons (3-17-99)

Hillary Rodham Clinton testimony played at McDougal trial (3-16-99)

FBI agent traces money trail at McDougal trial (3-11-99)

Opening statements begin in McDougal trial (3-10-99)

McDougal says trial is 'personal vendetta' by Starr (3-8-99)


McDougal jubilant after jury finds her not guilty (11-24-98)

McDougal 'in shock' after early release from prison (10-27-98)

McDougal likely to answer questions about Clinton during contempt trial (5-12-98)

Grand jury indicts McDougal for contempt (5-4-98)

McDougal blasts "hoodlum" Ken Starr (10-3-96)

McDougal charged with civil contempt (9-4-96)

Susan McDougal gets two years in prison (8-20-96)

Whitewater jury convicts defendants (5-28-96)


Bob Franken reports: Second day of jury selection in Susan McDougal trial (3-9-99) video Windows Media: 28K | 80K

Bob Franken reports: McDougal on trial for contempt (3-8-99) video Windows Media: 28K | 80K


The Independent Counsel


Thursday, March 18, 1999

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