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McDougal Changing Tune On Clinton-Hale Meeting

By Bob Franken/CNN


WASHINGTON (Feb. 10) -- Convicted Whitewater defendant James McDougal is contradicting President Bill Clinton and McDougal's own previous testimony, according to sources with firsthand knowledge of the information that McDougal has been giving Whitewater investigators.

President Bill Clinton has denied under oath, as has McDougal, that when he was Arkansas governor, Clinton participated in a meeting in early 1986 to discuss an illegal $300,000 loan.

McDougal said in May, "The fact is Clinton and I, never in our lives, had a meeting with David Hale. Mr. Hale's allegation is an absolute lie."


Now, McDougal is telling prosecutors that the president did participate in a meeting with Hale, a broker for the Small Business Administration.

McDougal is quoted by sources as saying he and Hale were talking "on another matter when Bill walked in." Then, McDougal continued, Clinton turned to Hale and "said something to the effect [of], 'I sure hope you can help us out with this.'"

"This," according to the sources, was the loan made to McDougal's then-wife Susan. Susan McDougal has been convicted for her role in the fraudulent loan. She is now in prison for refusing to testify about Clinton before a grand jury.

Hale has accused the president of pressuring him to make the loan. He is now in prison for fraud.

During taped courtroom testimony, Clinton said, "These things are not true, they simply did not happen." And in an earlier sworn statement, Clinton also said, "I don't recall any conversation with David Hale about loaning money."

McDougal has told several news organizations, including CNN, that he privately took five polygraph tests before the Whitewater trial and each time he failed the part in which he claimed the president did not know about the loan.

McDougal also claims he found out that Susan McDougal and the president were having an affair at the time, which Mrs. McDougal has consistently denied.


The White House and the president's personal lawyers refused comment.

McDougal's scheduled sentencing has been postponed for a second time, until April 14, while investigators thoroughly check out his story.

McDougal has a reputation for being erratic, and his credibility is considered shaky, particularly when making accusations in this case, where the implications are of the highest magnitude.

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