The chief targets of the investigation are Bill and Hillary Clinton, who invested in the Whitewater project and occupied the Arkansas governor's mansion in the mid-Eighties when the deal went sour. So far, though, the four-year-old inquiry has failed to uncover criminal wrongdoing on their part.
Mrs McDougal, who was a partner in the failed project, was subpoenaed by the grand jury to give evidence, but preferred to go prison than reveal what she knew. An articulate and forceful woman, she served the maximum 18-month sentence for civil contempt and indicated in numerous interviews that she was quite prepared for new charges if they were brought.
She is still in prison, this time on fraud charges connected with the failed local bank, the Madison Savings and Loan company which was owned by her then husband, Jim McDougal, and backed the Whitewater project.
The new charges facing Mrs McDougal are two counts of criminal contempt of court and one count of obstruction of justice; all derive from her refusal to testify. She is seen by the independent prosecutor, Kenneth Starr, as a key to the investigation because she may know details of the legal work done for the bank by Mrs Clinton. Her testimony has become crucial since the death of Jim McDougal in prison.
Jim McDougal, who was by then divorced from Susan, reportedly offered evidence against the Clintons in return for a lighter sentence, but died before he could complete it.Reuse content