Susan McDougal - Biography


McDougal was born as Susan Carol Henley in Heidelberg, Germany, the daughter of James B. Henley and Laurette (Mathieu) Henley. Susan McDougal was married from 1976 until 1990 to the late James B. McDougal, also of Little Rock, Arkansas. The McDougals were partners with Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton in the failed Whitewater real estate venture in the 1980s.

McDougal separated from Jim McDougal in the late 1980s and moved to Los Angeles, where, from 1989 until 1992, she worked in Los Angeles as a personal assistant to former actress Nancy Kovack, the wife of conductor Zubin Mehta. In late 1993, McDougal was charged with embezzling money from the Mehtas, and began preparing her successful defense against the charges.

On August 5, 1994, Kenneth Starr became Independent Counsel to prosecute Whitewater participants, including Susan McDougal. Federal trial began in 1996. During that trial, the government's star witness, Arkansas banker and former municipal judge David Hale, claimed that then-Governor Bill Clinton had discussed an illegal $300,000 loan with himself and McDougal. Hale was himself under investigation for having defrauded the Small Business Administration out of $3.2 million. He also unsuccessfully sought to have his brother, Milas Hale corroborate his testimony against Clinton.

McDougal was convicted of her role in Whitewater on May 28, 1996, and sentenced to spend time in prison for four counts of fraud and conspiracy relating to the Whitewater scandal, but her prison term did not begin until March 7, 1998 due to other court proceedings. Following James McDougal's conviction but prior to his sentencing, he began to cooperate with the Office of Independent Counsel (OIC), trying to persuade his former wife to do likewise in order to avoid a prison sentence. Susan's defense lawyer, Mark Geragos, stated that her ex-husband told her that deputy independent counsel W. Hickman Ewing Jr. would be able to "get Clinton with a sex charge" before the 1996 election if she agreed to lie and say she had had an affair with Clinton. She denies ever having an affair with Clinton. Ewing told reporters during a break in the proceedings that he never heard of such a plan, saying "I never talked to Jim McDougal about that, and I wouldn't. I never heard any discussion along those lines in my office ever at the time frame she's talking about".

Susan McDougal rejected her ex-husband's advice, and the sentencing hearing began August 19, 1996. After the judge levied a sentence of two years in federal prison, but before she left the courtroom, Starr had Susan McDougal served with a subpoena for another Whitewater grand jury, to begin two weeks later.

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