Susan McDougal Cited For Contempt

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LITTLE ROCK: Susan McDougal, the Clintons' convicted former business partner, was held in contempt of court Wednesday for refusing to answer questions before the Whitewater grand jury investigating President and Hillary Clinton's land deals. Prosecutors unsuccessfully asked Mrs. McDougal three questions before seeking a contempt charge. Two dealt with whether Clinton knew about a loan and a piece of property in which the Whitewater corporation had an interest, she said. The third, Mrs. McDougal said, asked, "Did William Jefferson Clinton testify truthfully before your trial?" Judge Susan Webber Wright said Mrs. McDougal faces up to 18 months in prison if she does not testify to the grand jury before Monday. "Mrs. McDougal is exercising what she says is her right to silence without good cause," the judge declared "She is in contempt." On Tuesday, the judge ordered Mrs. McDougal to talk to the grand jury investigating the Clintons' business deals. But in a statement read in court, Mrs. McDougal said she should not have to answer questions of a personal or private nature before the grand jury and believes she should not be compelled to answer questions from lawyers without having her lawyer present. "Some of her arguments are interesting but they're not the law," the judge said. Mrs. McDougal and her ex-husband, James, were convicted in May on numerous felony fraud counts. She is to begin a two-year prison sentence on September 30. In an interview to be broadcast Wednesday night on ABC, Mrs. McDougal says she has considered cooperating with prosecutors. "It is tempting every time they put the carrot before my eyes," she said. "It's very tempting. It's tempting when I see my mother crying. When I see my family hurting." -- Josh Dubow