A former aide to President Clinton during his tenure as Arkansas governor today pleaded guilty in theWhitewater investigationto charges of misusing a $65,000 federally backed small-business loan. Stephen Smith, also a business partner of newly-indicted Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker , plea-bargained for a misdemeanor charge and promised to cooperate with Whitewater investigators. "Smith was a lot closer to Clinton that Jim Guy Tucker ever was," saysTIME Washington correspondent Suneel Ratan. Worse for Clinton, Ratan says, the Smith and Tucker indictments suggest that prosecutors find credence in the related story of Little Rock judge David Hale, who -- in the most damaging charge to date -- has accused the President of participating in a 1986 scheme to defraud the Small Business Administration of $300,000.