In grand jury testimony made public for the first time Tuesday, Hillary Rodham Clinton said she didn't monitor the records of her Whitewater business partnership.
"I never spent any significant time at all looking at the books and records of Whitewater," Mrs. Clinton said in videotaped testimony for Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr. Forty minutes of the videotape was shown in court Tuesday during the contempt trial of Susan McDougal, who has refused to testify about her Whitewater dealings with the Clintons.
The tape was previewed for Mrs. McDougal's defense attorney after the judge gave prosecutors permission to show it to the jury later Tuesday.
In the videotape, Starr deputy Hickman Ewing Jr. showed Mrs. Clinton a $27,600 cashier's check payable to Bill Clinton, which was used to pay off a Whitewater debt. Mrs. McDougal's husband, Jim, had taken the money from a financial institution he owned to bankroll the Whitewater project.
"Did you know that that loan was being paid off by check to your husband?" Ewing asked.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Ewing, I don't know anything about this," Mrs. Clinton answered.
Ewing then asked whether she had ever seen a $27,600 entry in the records of Madison Guaranty, the savings and loan McDougal owned.
Mrs. Clinton said she had not reviewed the books, and "I have absolutely no memory of seeing an entry."
Ewing also asked her about a $5,081.82 check that was signed by Mrs. McDougal seven months after the other check. It bore the notation "pay off Clinton." That check was used to pay off part of the $27,600 loan, which was in Bill Clinton's name.
"I have never seen these documents before," Mrs. Clinton said.
Mrs. Clinton testified in a deposition in Washington on April 25, 1998, two days after McDougal appeared before the Whitewater grand jury in Little Rock and refused to answer questions. Mrs. Clinton's videotaped testimony was shown to the grand jury in Little Rock on April 29. Her testimony has been secret for nearly a year.
McDougal, 44, is on trial on two counts of criminal contempt and one count of obstruction of justice for refusing to answer grand jury questions Sept. 4, 1996, and April 23, 1998.
She and her ex-husband, James, who died in prison last year, were business partners with the Clintons in the Whitewater land development venture in Arkansas from 1979 to 1992.
McDougal says she has no information pertinent to the case. 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 have used false information from her ex-husband and David Hale, a former judge and businessman, to pursue their investigation of her and the Clintons.
Written by Peggy Harris