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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Clinton's Testimony Closes Whitewater Trial

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas -- A Little Rock jury Thursday heard President Bill Clinton, in videotaped testimony, vehemently deny allegations that he ever pressured an Arkansas businessman to make an illegal loan to one of his Whitewater business partners.


It was the first time that a sitting president has testified in a criminal trial in which his own conduct has been called into question. Facing a skeptical prosecutor who treated him like any ordinary witness, Clinton said he was "adamant" that he never asked David Hale, the lender, to make an allegedly illegal $300,000 loan, either to replenish Whitewater's depleted bank accounts or for any other reason.


"Any suggestion that I tried to get any money from him or I tried to keep that a secret or I put any pressure on him, these things are simply not true," Clinton said. "They didn't happen."


The president was called as a defense witness in the fraud and conspiracy trial of James and Susan McDougal and Arkansas Governor Jim Guy Tucker, a Democrat, who are all accused of scheming to obtain $3 million in illegal loans from Hale's lending company, and Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan, once owned by James McDougal.


In a move that took prosecutors and a packed courtroom by surprise, all three defendants abruptly rested their cases when the two-hour videotape ran out. Although the prosecution lasted two months, only Clinton and James McDougal appeared as defense witnesses.


The president, who was seated in a Chippendale chair in the White House Map Room, appeared composed throughout the session, which was taped on a Sunday afternoon last month. Still, he grew clearly irritated as prosecutor W. Ray Jahn grilled him on whether he had any involvement in the loan from Hale.


Hale has been sentenced to 28 months in prison for fraud and is cooperating with prosecutors as part of a plea bargain.


Although Jahn gave him opportunity to do so, Clinton refused to say anything negative about the McDougals, even dismissing as unimportant documents on which McDougal apparently penned the signatures of Clinton and his wife.


Clinton even had kind things to say about Tucker, describing his relationship with his old political rival as "cordial." On that high note, Tucker rested his case without calling a single witness