Testimony Comes to End in McDougal Trial
Tuesday, April 6, 1999; Page A08
LITTLE ROCK, April 5 – The final witness in Susan McDougal's trial testified today that Kenneth W. Starr's office wanted only the "total and complete truth" and never pressed McDougal to provide testimony falsely implicating President Clinton in wrongdoing.
Former Starr prosecutor Ray Jahn said that, as prosecutors sought to obtain McDougal's testimony in 1996, they promised that if there came a point where there was a question about whether she had committed perjury, the matter would be turned over to an independent prosecutor.
The offer didn't do any good, Jahn testified in the fifth week of McDougal's criminal contempt and obstruction trial.
McDougal went to jail rather than talk with Starr's investigators, saying she was afraid she would be charged with perjury unless she told Starr's office a story that implicated the president and first lady. McDougal and her late ex-husband, James B. McDougal, were partners with the Clintons in their failed Whitewater real estate investment.
Jahn, who won convictions against McDougal, her ex-husband, and then-Gov. Jim Guy Tucker in a 1996 Whitewater trial, gave a point-by-point rebuttal to McDougal's sworn testimony that prosecutors tried to get her to tell lies about the Clintons.
Closing arguments are set for Wednesday.
Jahn denied ever saying he could make McDougal's legal problems go away if she cooperated with Starr in the Clinton probe. Jahn acknowledged that a state prosecutor in California indicated he felt an embezzlement case against McDougal could be resolved through plea negotiations rather than going to trial.
Jahn also denied telling James McDougal that if his ex-wife would simply say she had a sexual affair with Clinton, she could "write her own ticket" with Starr's office, as Susan McDougal testified.
On cross-examination, McDougal lawyer Mark Geragos tried to get Jahn to admit that Starr had a plan to convict McDougal and "roll her" to testify against the Clintons.
Jahn conceded there's always a possibility that "today's defendant is tomorrow's witness," but he said Starr's office simply wanted the "total and complete truth."
Jahn did say that Starr deputy Hickman Ewing contacted the federal Bureau of Prisons on James McDougal's behalf. James McDougal had complained that he wanted to be moved to a prison in Texas.
A career federal prosecutor, Jahn testified he told Starr on going to work for the independent counsel "that it was my hope that we would be able to clear the president."
Jahn said he told Starr it wouldn't be good for the country to have the kind of disruption a criminal investigation of the president would bring.
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