Sunday, February 24, 2008

Campaign 08: Whitewater Pardon Revisited

In a somewhat theoretical piece today, the Associated Press suggests that Mrs. Clinton is now facing the "lessons of Whitewater" in her campaign for the presidency and demonstrates it when she says things like, "For 15 years, I have been the object of the Republican attack machine. And I'm still here."

The piece reviews the fact that when her husband was running for governor in the late 1970s, they became partners with Jim and Susan McDougal in a planned vacation home development on the White River in the Ozarks. The investment was followed by reports of fraud at the McDougals' savings and loan, a New York Times article about the Clintons and the McDougals during the 1992 presidential campaign, and curiosity about legal work Mrs. Clinton did for the McDougals' financial institution.

Jim McDougal predicted (from prison) that Whitewater investigators were "going to hang" the Clintons. And, indeed, they tried, for seven long years. McDougal died in prison and eventually his former wife, Susan McDougal, was imprisoned after refusing to testify against the Clintons. Bill Clinton pardoned her on his last day in office in 2001.

Along the way, prosecutors and Congress focused on the suicide of deputy White House counsel Vince Foster, a longtime law firm partner of Hillary Clinton because documents pertaining to Whitewater had been moved out of Foster's office by White House aides after his death. Prosecutors were never sure about Mrs. Clinton's involvement because could not get to her time sheets documenting what services she had provided. Then one day, the missing billing records - detailing her work for the McDougals' failing S&L in the 980s - simply popped out from the White House family residence. A Clinton staffer said she had found the printouts stashed in a box in a storage room. Prosecutors had issued a subpoena for them 18 months earlier and angrily summoned Mrs. Hillary Clinton before a federal grand jury.

The billing records showed that Mrs. Clinton drafted a real estate document regulators later said had misled bank examiners. Prosecutors concluded that McDougal and others had used her legal work to conceal unlawful activity. But Mrs. Clinton she said she did not know where the billing records had been and that she could not recall the work she had done for the S&L 10 years earlier. See complete article here.

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