Susan McDougal was sent to jail in Arkansas on Monday as she continued to defy a federal judge who had ordered her to answer prosecutors’ questions before a grand jury about her former Whitewater partner Bill Clinton.
After refusing to testify under immunity last Wednesday, McDougal was cited for contempt and given until Monday morning to either cooperate or go to jail. Shortly before turning herself in to federal authorities in Little Rock Monday, she vowed again that she would not cooperate with investigators from the Whitewater independent counsel’s office.
“No one has asked me not to tell this story,” she told reporters in Little Rock. “It’s just that I can’t trust them. They’ve always wanted something on the Clintons. They’ve always asked me to tell something for any deal they’ve offered me. It’s not something I can be a part of.”
Officials said McDougal would be taken to the Faulkner County Jail near Conway, Ark., about 35 miles north of Little Rock.
McDougal was convicted of fraud and three other felony counts in May. The charges centered on a $300,000 government-backed loan that she received in 1986 from David Hale, a prominent figure in the Whitewater investigation. The loan was later found to have been fraudulent, and $50,000 of it wound up paying for Whitewater expenses.
Investigators have been examining what Clinton, then governor of Arkansas, knew about the loan, if anything. The president has said under oath that he knew nothing of it at the time, but Hale, who is now serving a 28-month prison sentence for fraud, has testified that he issued it to McDougal only after Clinton had asked him to.
McDougal would be freed from jail as soon as she agreed to testify. If she were to continue resisting, she could remain jailed for as long as the grand jury is sitting, 12 more months. The contempt citation, then, could wind up adding a year to the two-year prison term resulting from her trial, a sentence she was to begin serving on Sept. 30.
Prosecutors have obtained a delay in the sentencing of McDougal’s former husband, James B. McDougal, who has offered his cooperation and spent the last few weeks in discussions with investigators.