Hillary Indictment Was Drafted

How close did Hillary Rodham Clinton come to being indicted by Kenneth Starr?

One top Starr deputy - Hickman Ewing - says he once drafted a proposed indictment of the first lady, and showed it to others in Starr's office.

Ewing says he drafted the indictment some time after September of 1996. He says it isn't unusual for a federal prosecutor to draft an indictment, whether or not a charge is ever brought. As a prosecutor, he said, "You're always thinking aboutÂ… what possible crime could it be."

Ewing said he showed the draft to "a couple of people in the office."

The revelation came Thursday as Ewing testified at the trial of Whitewater figure Susan McDougal in Arkansas.

McDougal is on trial for refusing to answer questions from Starr's prosecutors. Her lawyer is trying to show that she believed prosecutors wanted to pressure her into giving false testimony against the Clintons.

Asked by McDougal's attorney, Mark Geragos, whether he had ever referred to the Clintons as "liars," Ewing said, "I don't know if I used the L-word or not. But I certainly expressed internally that I had problems with some of their answers."

Ewing questioned some of Mrs. Clinton's testimony in the Starr investigation, saying, "I don't know if she was telling the truth or not."

In the April 1995 interviews, the first lady was questioned under oath about the work her law firm had done for James and Susan McDougal's savings and loan, Madison Guaranty. "She was in conflict with interviews we had already done with several people in the Rose Law Firm," Ewing said.

He also referred to a statement by President Clinton that he didn't remember asking James McDougal to engage Mrs. Clinton to do legal work for Madison Guaranty. During his presidential campaign, Mr. Clinton denied he ever made that request to McDougal.

Ewing's testimony was the type of unwelcome attention the first lady would like to avoid as she tests the waters for a possible Senate bid in New York in 2000.

Mrs. Clinton became a focal point for Starr's investigation in January 1996 because of the still-unexplained reappearance of her law firm billing records on a table inside the White House. The records, which outlined her work for the McDougals' failing savings and loan in 1985 and '86, had vanished after the 1992 presidential campaign.

On Wednesday, Ewing watched from the rear of the courtroom as the prosecution closed its case by summoning three former members of the Whitewater grand jury before whom McDougal had refused to testify. Ewing said that in 25 years as a federal prosecutor he had never seen grand jurors testify at a criminal trial.

At the end of the day, Bill Henley, Mrs. McDougal's brother, reached through a crowd of reporters and handed Ewing a subpoena, saying, "Hick, I've got something for you."

"It felt really good,"Bill Henley said a few moments later. "I's about time we got to ask them a few questions."

Geragos would not rule out summoning Starr as well. "First let me deal with Hick Ewing," he said. "One at a time."