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Born in Heidelberg, West Germany, Susan McDougal is known as ‘The Woman Who Wouldn’t Talk’ (also the name of her book). She and her ex-husband were part of the Whitewater prosecution during the Clinton Presidency. She went to prison on contempt charges for refusing to answer questions for a grand jury. President Clinton pardoned her during the final hours that he was in office. In the 90s, Susan worked as an assistant to actress Nancy Kovack who accused her of embezzlement. McDougal was acquitted on all charges relating to that incident and won a lawsuit against Kovack for malicious prosecution.
Up In Your Business is a Radio Show by FlagandBanner.com
[00:00:09] GM: Welcome to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy, a production of flagandbanner.com. Through storytelling and conversational interviews, this weekly radio show and podcast offers listeners an insider's view into the commonalities of successful people and the ups and downs of risk taking. And now it's time for Kerry McCoy to get all up in your business.
[00:00:29] KM: Our guest today was the center of attention in Kenneth Starr's 1994 media-frenzied trial of President Clinton and the Whitewater investigation, Miss Susan McDougal. As a young lady, this small town, Ouachita Baptist College student, was swept off her feet by the flamboyant, worldly and well-read campus professor, Mr. Jim Dougal. After a whirlwind courtship filled with impressive parties and introductions to important politicians and successful businessman, Susan found herself married to Jim, a man much older than herself, who, unknowingly to both of them at the time, suffered from a mental illness that would later be diagnosed as bipolar disorder.
In her book aptly titled The Girl That Wouldn't Talk, Susan tells her side of the story from the beginning of her life in Camden, Arkansas, to finding herself shackled and jailed in no less than seven prisons over a two-year period, a cruel tactic known as diesel therapy by the prosecution. This is a disheartening story and eye-opener into the abuse of judicial power, fake media and corrupt politics. But it is also a story of how one woman took a stand to speak no more and unexpectedly took her life back.
It is my great pleasure to welcome to the table and microphone, the strong, courageous, well-read, and a once too naive young lady, the notable Miss Susan McDougal.
[00:02:01] SM: I think we're done. I think that's all we need to know. I myself, I'm impressed. And the marriage sounds so much more fun than it actually was at the time. Jim was 14 years older than me. That's really not that much older. He just looked old.
[00:02:20] KM: That's pretty much old. That’s pretty old. How old were you? 18? 19?
[00:02:24] SM: I was 22. I had graduated from college.
[00:02:28] KM: But not when you met him and started dating.
[00:02:30] SM: No. No. Not when I met him. But it was the year before. And he always had a trip to Washington. And the seniors went. And that's where I met him. And then I married him after college.
[00:02:40] KM: You're 20. And he's 15 years older. That's almost twice your age, if you look at it like that.
[00:02:45] SM: He was old. I get it. I’m totally on your side now. It was. He was old.
[00:02:51] KM: Yeah. You’re nice. You're always nice.
[00:02:53] SM: He was funny though. He was really funny. And that went a long way toward bridging the gap in the ages. He talked like you were reading the greatest book in the world. Just talking with him every day was hilarious and funny. I never saw anyone who didn't love talking to him, because he was a guy who leaned into the story with you, and had all the facts, and all of the color. And he knew everything to a 22-year-old girl from Camden, Arkansas. It really was astonishing.
[00:03:26] KM: You were born in Camden, Arkansas. Tell us about your mother and father and how they met.
[00:03:30] SM: I was not my father was in the US military. And he met my mother during the Second World War in a bomb shelter when the Nazis were trying to kill everyone in Europe. And my mother was very impressed with the tall, six-foot-two, blond, blue-eyed, handsome guy from Arkansas and went and she took him home and fed him. And that was the end of that story.
[00:03:54] KM: Or the beginning of that story.
[00:03:55] SM: Yeah, that was the end of the meeting, but the beginning of life. And I was born in Heidelberg, seven brothers and sisters, and they were married all over Europe where my dad was stationed. We had quite a life growing up. And we all felt like we were in the army. Every time my dad got papers to move, we all packed our little bags and went wherever he went. We were an Army family. We were a military family. All for one and one for all. Stand up for your country.
[00:04:24] KM: How old were you when you got to Camden?
[00:04:25] SM: Salute the flag.
[00:04:26] KM: Thank you.
[00:04:26] SM: Say the Pledge of Allegiance. No, America, the beautiful. We were a very military family growing up. And that –
[00:04:35] KM: You gave speeches at the American Legion, didn’t you?
[00:04:37] SM: I've won an award from the American Legion and a scholarship because we were true believers. My mother was Belgian. And my mother saw what the Nazis were doing to Europe. And the only thing that stopped them were the American troops that came to her hometown. And she thought, “This is a country that comes where they know no one and saves people's lives.” She thought it was the greatest country ever. She couldn't wait to move here and to be American. And she raised all of us in that way.
[00:05:04] KM: And then she ends up in Camden. I bet she was a little shocked.
[00:05:07] SM: She was. Yeah, she was from a huge university city in Belgium and had gone to school to be a doctor when the Nazis closed the schools to anyone who –
[00:05:20] KM: Camden don’t have an Air Force Base. Why Camden?
[00:05:24] SM: My dad was –
[00:05:25] KM: Oh, his family is from there.
[00:05:26] SM: Around there. Yes, from around there. Mm-hmm.
[00:05:29] KM: Why did you decide to go to OBU, Ouachita Baptist University?
[00:05:33] SM: I think it was because I didn't decide. My parents wanted me to be close. I was a – our family is very tight knit. And they did not want me to leave. In fact, the first weekend I went to Ouachita, I went back home, and everyone was lined up in the driveway waiting for me. And I got out of the car. And my dad said, “You don't have to go back.” And I was thinking, “Well, good, because I miss all you.” My mother said, “She has to go back.” Yeah, we were just very close.
[00:06:05] KM: You're at OBU. You're studying what? Do you remember?
[00:06:11] SM: The way I met Jimmy Dougal was taking political science courses. He was head of the political science department at Ouachita. And I took some political science courses. I was interested in it.
[00:06:23] KM: Was that your major?
[00:06:24] SM: No, it wasn't. Speech was my major.
[00:06:29] KM: Oh! And then how did he ask you out? How did you first end up going out with him?
[00:06:36] SM: I locked his office door. I was doing some work for another professor in there. And by accident, I locked his door and he kicked the door down. And I thought, “This is a guy I need to know.” I thought that was pretty cool, looking back on it. That was the beginning of – I should have run. But actually, I thought, “This guy kicked this huge wooden door down because it was locked and we could have gotten a key. But I thought it was rather chivalrous. I was outside the office needed to get in. I know. I love the faces you were making. Why weren’t you there at the time? Where were you?
[00:07:16] GM: Speaks to your – I feel like your –
[00:07:17] KM: Naivety.
[00:07:18] GM: Yeah. Like, “Oh, this guy is cool. He’s kicking down doors.” It’s like – Yeah.
[00:07:21] SM: Yeah. Yeah, exactly.
[00:07:23] KM: And he’s scrawny. He didn't look like he’d kicked down doors, does he?
[00:07:26] SM: Oh, he wasn't scrawny.
[00:07:26] KM: He wasn’t?
[00:07:28] SM: He wasn't. He’s tall and thin. But he wasn't scrawny. He’s pretty macho guy.
[00:07:33] KM: What was the courtship like?
[00:07:36] SM: Listening to him talk. Just listening to him and meeting a bunch of his friends. He worked for Senator Fulbright. And he'd worked on the Hill for Senator McClellan.
[00:07:51] KM: And you met Claudia and Bob Riley through him. Is that correct?
[00:07:54] SM: That’s right. They were his closest friends, I would say. Because when Bob became governor for that short period of time, when Senator Pryor – Was it Pryor that went to Washington? And there was a wait for the election. He had been appointed. And Bob was in the governor's office, and Jim helped him run it.
[00:08:14] KM: And Bob Raleigh was a lieutenant governor at the time?
[00:08:17] SM: That's right. And became governor.
[00:08:19] KM: And became governor. And Jim helped him run that. Were you married at that time?
[00:08:23] SM: No. That was long before.
[00:08:25] KM: And you met Bill and Hillary Clinton during that time?
[00:08:28] SM: Yes.
[00:08:30] SM: Because they were at parties you went to.
[00:08:31] SM: Bill Clinton had worked for Fulbright. Jim had gotten the job. They were – Bill looked up to Jim. He had worked for Fulbright forever. And that was a pretty prestigious appointment at the time. And he loved Bill Clinton. Just loved him. Thought he was funny and smart and a great person to know in Arkansas in upcoming politics. He was going to be great. And Jim could see them.
[00:09:00] KM: What was Bill's position at the time? He wasn’t governor?
[00:09:03] SM: No. He was he was a kid driving Fulbright around in the election when Jim met him. That was his first job was driving Fulbright around and losing the car. He was always losing the car. And Fulbright was furious. He said, “Who is this you've hired to drive the round? He never knows where he's parked the car.” And so, that was the beginning of the funny stories about Bill Clinton working for Fulbright, and Jim being his boss.
[00:09:30] KM: And didn't Bill Clinton talk Fulbright's ear off and he one time said something like, “Don't ever let that kid drive me around anymore. “
[00:09:36] SM: That's in the book, I think. Yes.
[00:09:38] KM: Yeah. I'm like I can just hear Bill Clinton talking somebody's ear off.
[00:09:42] SM: Yeah. And thinking they want to hear it. You know? Never been shy about talking anybody's ear off. Yes. I'm sure they want to hear from me would have been the attitude.
[00:09:51] KM: Yeah. And I remember in the book you mentioned meeting Jim Guy Tucker, who was at the time breathtakingly handsome.
[00:09:59] SM: True. There were posters in my dorm. I was still in school. There were posters in my dorm of Jim Guy.
[00:10:06] KM: Because he was – what was he at that time?
[00:10:08] SM: Attorney General.
[00:10:10] KM: Girls had posters of him in your dorm room? Like a model?
[00:10:15] SM: Yeah, like a big – Maybe vote for Jim Guy Tucker. This huge posters in their room. He was startlingly good.
[00:10:25] KM: Startlingly.
[00:10:26] SM: And nice, and well-spoken, and well-educated. I mean, this is not someone you just bump into on the streets.
[00:10:33] KM: Ernie Dumas called him a swashbuckler, because he was a Marine and he –
[00:10:37] GM: Well, wasn't he the one that sailed on a freight ship across the Pacific?
[00:10:43] KM: During the Vietnam War because he –
[00:10:44] GM: Yeah. Just because he wanted to go take pictures.
[00:10:45] KM: Yeah. And he infiltrated the prison to find out what was problem with the prisons. And yeah, he was very gregarious.
[00:10:54] GM: Swashbuckler.
[00:10:54] KM: Swashbuckler, yeah. Your wedding day. Tell us about your wedding day. Jim's kind of – you haven't really said yes, so to speak, to Jim about wedding. He's just kind of railroaded you into this wedding.
[00:11:06] SM: Yeah, I'd say that's probably true. I think that's probably true. It was like I didn't have a plan. And he had a plan. And I thought, “Well, I can do this for a while.” And so, that was kind of the thinking at the time. It was the 70s. Let's not forget. Not today.
And we got married a little house that he had bought out in the country that was once a goat house. And he had redone it with all kinds of crazy wallpaper and things. It was funny. When you walked in, you had to laugh because Jim had done the decorating himself.
[00:11:40] KM: Oh, I'd be furious.
[00:11:43] SM: Oh, no, no, he was living there. I wasn't living there. And I didn't care. I mean, no. This is a goat house. This is not a house you really get your emotions involved.
[00:11:52] KM: Okay.
[00:11:54] SM: And the story I think is in the book where I'm lying on the rug, the new carpet in the house, and whatever gets on goats is crawling.
[00:12:03] KM: Fleas?
[00:12:05] SM: No. Legs and things like that. Ticks? Something like that. Yeah. And you could just see them. I mean, it's not like he had the place fumigated or anything. He just laid very expensive, lovely carpet and had the thing painted.
[00:12:20] KM: On top of the dirt floor?
[00:12:21] SM: I don't know. I didn't ask those questions. I'm just saying it wasn't well done. And it was frightening. And the only heat in the house was a pot-bellied stove that had a pipe like Lincoln must have lived with. And there was no stove or anything in the kitchen. And no micro – I don't even think microwaves were made yet. There were just cabinets in a refrigerator.
[00:12:46] KM: What a paradox.
[00:12:48] SM: Yeah, we had Fulbright there once. We had him to lunch.
[00:12:52] KM: In the goat house?
[00:12:52] SM: Yes. And Fulbright said, “I don't believe I've ever seen a kitchen of a stove in it.” Jim didn't care. I mean, really, that sort of accoutrement, that sort of dressing things up. It is what it is. Come see us. And we had Bill Clinton stay there one night. It was just what it was, you know?
[00:13:18] KM: it’s like camping out almost. So, you got married –
[00:13:19] SM: No. It had nice furniture. It had very expensive nice furniture in the goat house. Yes.
[00:13:26] KM: You got married in the front yard of the goat house?
[00:13:27] SM: That's true.
[00:13:28] KM: Tell us about that. And I bet a lot of people came to that.
[00:13:31] SM: No, not really. Bill Clinton came. Bob and Claudia came. Bob Married us. He was blind. So, he didn't have anything to eat from. And he just kept saying the same thing over and over again, “Do you date this person? Do you take this person? Do you –” And I thought, “My God, we're going to be here all day.” He didn't know the lines evidently. It was very funny.
[00:13:51] KM: You were barefoot.
[00:13:52] SM: I was barefoot. It was the 70s. I had flowers in my hair. I had a long 70’s dress.
[00:13:59] KM: I think in the book you said it had been and there was mad.
[00:14:02] SM: Oh, there had been raining. Yes. And the little flowers that had been planted and put out in everything, they were gone. They were in the mud. Yes. It looked like a mud track. It was what it was. It wasn't like either of us said, “Oh, my God! We have to reboot.” It’s like, “Everyone's coming.”
[00:14:21] KM: You're not putting on airs. That's for sure.
[00:14:22] SM: No. No airs. You know?
[00:14:25] KM: Everybody's so pretentious these days, it seems like.
[00:14:26] SM: We had bought this bank downtown and we really spent a lot of money making it cool inside. And he had an office that was upstairs. It was just really beautiful and soft. And he wouldn't go up there. When I finally got him in there, Bill Clinton came from running one day and got sweat on his leather chairs in there. He said, “This is why we don't need these things. We just need to stay in the basics. Look at the sweat on the chairs.”
[00:14:58] KM: The things you remember.
[00:15:00] SM: I think you have to laugh. I think you'd have to laugh.
[00:15:02] GM: Oh, it's hilarious.
[00:15:04] SM: You have to – Yeah. And he was funny. And he thought he was funny. And everyone thought he was funny.
[00:15:11] KM: What was Jim's business? Real estate? He was good at it too, wasn’t he? When you married him, was it real estate?
[00:15:16] SM: Yes. He was mostly working in politics, local politics. If you go to the polls
[inaudible 00:15:23] and make him your choice. Arkansas own Sam boys. Do you remember him? He ran for governor.
[00:15:29] KM: No. No.
[00:15:30] SM: Oh, great guy. Great democrat. His son is now like AG somewhere. I mean, big legal family. Great friends of Bob and Claudia. And Jim started working in local elections.
[00:15:45] KM: Jim didn't write jingles though?
[00:15:48] SM: No. I just remember that because I was a kid. I liked that song.
[00:15:50] KM: I have some political jingle stuck in my head that will never leave too. Penrose on me. Penrose on me. I'm for Roseman. You remember that one? No?
[00:16:00] SM: No. Thankfully. No.
[00:16:03] KM: All right. You are going to Fayetteville to look at some property that he's thinking about buying. And you go through a little town to have lunch. And there's a bank there, the Bank of Kingston, and it's for sale.
[00:16:18] SM: Yes.
[00:16:19] KM: But he buys that bank.
[00:16:20] SM: Yeah, he bought that bank.
[00:16:22] KM: Not just anybody can buy bank. Or did he get a partner?
[00:16:26] SM: Yes. Steve Smith in Bill Clinton's office was his partner in that.
[00:16:31] KM: Who's the Governor at this time?
[00:16:32] SM: Bill Clinton.
[00:16:33] KM: Oh, so this is years later.
[00:16:35] SM: Jim was the kind of person that was always looking for something to do, to buy, to resell, to make into something else. It was a passion.
[00:16:45] GM: Sounds familiar? Yeah.
[00:16:47] SM: Yeah. He was always looking for something to reconfigure. And this little bank was adorable. It really was. It had a big ball safe in the window at the bank. Back in the old days, if fire or something broke out, and all the money in the stuff was in the big ball. The bottom would melt. It had a little melty bottom, and it would roll out the window and down the street.
[00:17:14] KM: Now, say that again.
[00:17:16] SM: Okay.
[00:17:16] KM: It's a ball.
[00:17:17] SM: It's huge. It's as big as that door.
[00:17:23] KM: Big as a regular door.
[00:17:24] SM: And round though. As big as that wall. As big as that wall right there. And you look in the window, and there it is. And it's black, and it's gold lettered Bank of Kingston with a little gold handle thing. And it's on a plateau looking thing, stand, that is supposed to melt in case of fire. And it's in the window so that it rolls out of the bank and it's saved. We just thought that was the coolest thing ever.
[00:17:51] KM: I still think that's the coolest thing ever. I've ever heard of anything like that. It’s on a wax base, I guess?
[00:17:57] SM: Some kind of base that melts before the safe does.
[00:18:00] KM: Okay, what do y'all do with it? Live at the window?
[00:18:02] SM: Of course. Yeah. I mean, of course. And we found at the – The had taken a chainsaw and sawed off the tellers’ windows, you know? And they were like the ones down in the post office here in downtown Little Rock. Those brass. Beautiful. Do you know what I'm talking? And he had them put back up.
[00:18:26] KM: he found them in a basement or somewhere?
[00:18:27] SM: Well, in the back of the bank. Yes. And it had one phone when we bought it. It was on the wall. And anyone who used the phone went over to the wall and said Bank of Kingston. We had all new phones and all computers put in. It was fun.
[00:18:42] KM: That sounds like a blast.
[00:18:43] SM: It was bringing it into the 21st century. And it was really fun. And the guy who ran it, Gary Bunch, was like just the coolest guy ever. I mean, you just couldn't meet anyone. He rodeoed. He rode bulls. He was good looking. He was funny. He was macho. He knew everyone in Madison County. He knew everyone who had money at the bank. And everyone trusted him. He was from an old, old family.
[00:19:12] KM: Was he's smart too, I guess?
[00:19:13] SM: Oh, yea. Yes.
[00:19:15] KM: Everything.
[00:19:16] SM: He was just perfect.
[00:19:17] KM: Did Whitewater go after him to? Please tell me no then?
[00:19:22] SM: I don't think so.
[00:19:23] KM: They went through everybody your past.
[00:19:23] SM: You know, if you asked me if he was intelligent. I think he was intelligent and just stayed out of all of that. He wasn't in politics. And he wasn't in any of those things.
[00:19:33] KM: Yeah, but Whitewater, when they came to town, they didn't care if you were in politics or not. They went after everybody it seemed like that even barely knew you. They were like, “Well, we're going to –” Or Bill Clinton or any of y'all.
[00:19:44] SM: Yeah, it ruined a lot of lives. In the trial that I had, people got on the stand and wept and sobbed over the fact they lost everything they had trying to defend themselves and then not convicted of anything. Just charged and then your life ruined. And nothing came of it. And it was, I think, a tactic to make people lie.
[00:20:09] KM: It absolutely was.
[00:20:10] SM: Yes.
[00:20:12] KM: All right, this is a great place to take a break. When we come back, we'll continue our conversation with Miss Susan McDougal. Known as the woman that wouldn't talk during the Whitewater trial of the mid-90s. Still to come, just what she said, how many people's lives were ruined by the Whitewater trial? The story of Madison Guaranty, which became the target of the Whitewater investigation and ruined a lot of people's lives there. The Whitewater Real Estate Development. What was it? It was pretty simple. We're going to tell you what it is. What Susan was accused of? What Susan was convicted of? And what she learned in her two-year incarceration in seven different jails, a torturous tactic by the prosecution known as diesel therapy. And last, what she's doing today and why she chose to come back to Arkansas? We'll be back after the break.
[00:20:57] GM: You're listening to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy, a production of flagandbanner.com. Over 40 years ago, with only $400, Kerry founded Arkansas Flag and Banner. During the last four decades, the business has grown and changed along with Kerry's experience and leadership knowledge. In 1995. She embraced the internet and rebranded her company as simply flagandbanner.com. In 2004, she became an early blogger. Since then, she has founded the nonprofit Friends of Dreamland ballroom, began publishing her magazine, Brave. And in 2016, branched out into this very radio show, YouTube channel and podcast. In 2020, Kerrie McCoy enterprises acquired ourcornermarket.com, an online company specializing in American-made plaques, signage and memorials for over 20 years.
If you'd like to sponsor this show, or get involved with any of Kerry McCoy's enterprises, send an email to me, GGray, that's email@example.com. Telling American-made stories, selling American-made flags, the flagandbanner.com. Back to you, Kerry.
[00:22:07] KM: You're listening to Up in Your Business with me, Kerry McCoy. And I'm speaking today with Miss Susan McDougal, the defendant and the woman that wouldn't talk in the 1994 Whitewater investigation and trial.
Before the break, we talked about Susan being from Camden, being an army brat. About meeting Jim McDougal who kicked in the door and impressed her with his machoness. Then how she ended up getting married at the goat house. And then ended up owning a bank in Kingston. And that's just the beginning of the story. Wait till you hear the good stuff. Now, you own a bank, a small bank, in Kingston, which I'm kind of jealous of that. It sounded like a lot of fun to redo. Are you living in that little city?
[00:22:50] SM: Oh, yes, yes, we moved up there.
[00:22:52] KM: Okay. But Jim sees an opportunity for business in Little Rock because he's missing, I think, the big city. And he opened up – He founded, I guess, he founded, Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan. Tell us how that came about.
[00:23:05] SM: Madison actually was for sale. It was one little small savings and loan in a very small town in Arkansas, which I can't remember. And he bought it and branched it to a lot of different cities. And he did the major bank savings and loan. He bought that building and redid it. And it was the major –
[00:23:27] KM: In downtown Little Rock, Arkansas. It was very impressive. At the opening, we talked about how Jim was bipolar. When he had up swings, he had major up swings. He had a customer, I think, who was a Mercedes dealership. And he wanted all the people in his – That worked for him, the tellers and everybody, to have Mercedes in the parking lot.
[00:23:49] SM: He bought people a lot of things. First, he bought them clothes from all the lovely store for men here in Little Rock that –
[00:23:59] KM: Mr. Wicks.
[00:24:01] SM: Mr. Wicks? Yes, Mr. wicks. And he bought everyone gorgeous clothes to work in the bank. And they love that. I mean, they looked really good. And they were not used to dressing that way. And they just love Jim for that.
[00:24:14] KM: This is so opposite of him not wanting to put on airs. And yet he's giving these really expensive clothes to the people –
[00:24:21] SM: To young people. To young people. To sort of set a standard or to help them to see how they might –
[00:24:31] GM: Empower?
[00:24:31] SM: Yeah, yeah, really. That was what it was. Because Ernie Dumas wrote that Jim looked like he had his clothes thrown on him from a distance.
[00:24:42] KM: He did, they hung on him like sacks.
[00:24:44] SM: I know. I don't think you can say he was dressing himself that way. Because he always dressed for comfort. He was like Winston Churchill. He didn't want anything touching his cuticle, as he called it.
[00:24:56] KM: His cuticles? Is that your skin?
[00:24:57] SM: The skin, yeah. Isn't that funny? That's one of the quoting things, and the knowing poetry, and knowing literature. Just lovely. I don't like anything touching my cuticle as Winston Churchill would just. You know? Just lovely. I thought that was a wonderful way to live.
[00:25:17] KM: Yeah. He buys everybody clothes. The he buys on Mercedes. But the employees actually make the note payments.
[00:25:25] SM: Yeah. They pick their car, and they decide what they're going to pay and all of that. Jim, introduced them to the guy that owned Mercedes place.
[00:25:35] KM: And he still owns the Bank of Kingston?
[00:25:38] SM: Yes.
[00:25:39] KM: And he's still doing real estate.
[00:25:41] SM: Yes.
[00:25:42] KM: And he's still –
[00:25:44] SM: Actually, the savings and loan was purchased to finance real estate purchases for people throughout the state of Arkansas. Because it was hard at that time for some folks to get loans. Yeah, money was tight. It was hard. And he was going to have a real estate place for the people. It was going to be for the people to own property.
[00:26:12] KM: Yeah, it's kind of vertical integration in business. He's going to sell the money, then take it over to his bank. And then his bank's going to loan you the money. And he's going to improve people's lives, and his life too, and everybody. I mean, it's building a big community.
[00:26:26] SM: The making money from it was not the big priority, unfortunately. One of the things that the independent counsel never found was any money. I kept saying, “Where's the money if we are these people who've done all these things?” But the profit was never it. It was always involving people and showing them how to make money. How to take a piece of land? How to carve it up? How to put water in or roads. And then to buy these – I mean, we sold lots to people who had never dreamed of having a five-acre lot with a house on it.
And then we introduced them to builders, who knew that we were going to finance the end product with them. And the builder would come and make that design that they wanted. I mean, it was people who've never had that dream before.
[00:27:15] KM: And I get that from where Jim's coming from. I love the creative process of business. It's the building of something and the hooking it up. And there's a lot of things you do in business that are labors of love, that are fun, and that are creative, that are not necessarily the best business decision. I've had lots of bankers tell me, they go, “That's not really a good idea to buy the Taborian Hall in downtown Little Rock, Kerry. That's a really bad idea.” I’m like, “Well, it's a labor of love. I can't help it. I want to redo it.”
[00:27:45] SM: Yes, absolutely. And it was the 70s and early 80s when people were very idealistic.
[00:27:52] KM: We were very idealistic. It's interesting that you said that about Madison Guaranty. Because after all the combing through everything by Whitewater, they never found anything but a misdemeanor for an appraisal that was a little too high that was done by a subcontractor.
[00:28:11] SM: Yeah, it was never anything. There was no there-there.
[00:28:16] KM: Kenneth Starr went on TV and said, “Madison Guaranty is the most corrupt institution in the country.” And they never found one thing.
[00:28:23] SM: No. They asked me to come and testify to congress about what had been found. So, I got to go sit and look at all the findings. There was literally nothing.
[00:28:35] KM: Which I don't think most people realize that. I just assumed it had so much negative publicity. I just assumed there was something there. There had to be smoking gun. I mean, I never knew what it was, but I just assumed it was bad because of the bad press.
[00:28:48] SM: I think it was just the first of a long line of bad information out there. Just like we have now where people don't believe that the Coronavirus is real. And they don't think – Yes. It's just all of that information and you can drown people in it. And I do think that people believe there was something there. But that one sentence tells you why I went to jail rather than testify. Because I'm a person who knew there was nothing there.
[00:29:21] KM: What was your position at the bank?
[00:29:23] SM: Wife.
[00:29:26] KM: You didn't work – You didn't work at the bank at all?
[00:29:30] SM: No. No. I never had a position at the bank. I sold real estate. But I was not a banker.
[00:29:36] KM: Yeah. You just did things when Jim told you to do something. Your life with Jim was starting to unravel. You were starting to realize that he's got a problem. You didn't know he was bipolar, I don't think, yet.
[00:29:47] SM: He bought an island. Sight unseen. That was the beginning of the crack for me. He bought Campobello Island.
[00:29:55] KM: Where is that?
[00:29:58] SM: It's in Canada. And it's formerly owned by – Well, it had a house there where President Roosevelt had been bathing. And their house is still there in perfect shape with everything in it that was ever there. And we went to see that. And well, after we bought it, we went to see that. That was lovely. And the island was lovely. The Bay of Fundy is around that island.
[00:30:27] GM: I know what that is.
[00:30:29] KM: Is it developed? Is it developed now? Is it developed now?
[00:30:28] SM: I have no idea. The name itself is enough to make me have complete breakdown.
[00:30:38] KM: Why did you not like it if it was lovely and everything was beautiful?
[00:30:40] SM: In fact, this whole conversation is giving me a complete breakdown.
[00:30:45] KM: Rash? It’s giving you a rash?
[00:30:47] SM: Yes. Yes. I'm inarticulate to say the least. He saw that island for sale. And he looked at the price and what it was. And he said, “We're buying it. And he sent one of the people from the bank up there, and they bought it and came home and said, “We have it. It's ours.”
[00:31:10] KM: Whatever happened to it? He sold it? Or lose it? Or –
[00:31:12] SM: Oh, I don't know. I really don't. We sold a lot of it. We've developed some of it.
[00:31:21] KM: You said that's the crack.
[00:31:23] SM: That was the beginning of, “What are we doing?”
[00:31:26] KM: Wasn't Jim – Were you and Jim living together?
[00:31:27] SM: And I was older – I was older, you have to remember.
[00:31:30] KM: How old are you now?
[00:31:32] SM: Probably that was – let's see. I got married in ‘76. And I left in ‘86. I was 30 something.
[00:31:40] KM: You’re starting to be a woman.
[00:31:42] SM: I'm starting to realize I might need to say something.
[00:31:46] KM: Yeah. I need a voice.
[00:31:48] SM: I probably should be saying something right now. And it was scary.
[00:31:52] KM: What's the first thing you did when you left? You moved out? Told him? What did you say?
[00:31:58] SM: I think he helped me out. He was manic. And he was having a good time. Yeah, life was really good for him.
[00:32:07] KM: You don't want to be with me? You're out of here.
[00:32:09] SM: No, it was like, “Go. Have a good time. And this is what you want. And I want what you want.” And if someone falls out of love with you, there's just not much you can do about it.
[00:32:22] KM: Had he said he'd fallen out with you?
[00:32:23] SM: No. No. He was saying I had. And he was saying there's just not much to be done. We don't want to argue or anything. I think he helped me out with my luggage. And it was friendly. It was nice. And we talked every day. And it wasn’t great. It wasn't – And I worried about him because I knew that he was manic and I knew that bad things –
[00:32:45] KM: You loved him.
[00:32:46] SM: Yes, absolutely.
[00:32:47] KM: But you start dating Pat. This is when you start dating Pat. You've known Pat for a long time.
[00:32:53] SM: Well, we knew each other. He worked there. And we knew each other. And he was reasonable. And it was such a relief to talk to someone reasonable. And he loved Jim. He loved him. And so did I. And we talked about what was happening. And he was aware of it. Most people, when you try to talk to them about someone who is manic and the things that are going on, they look at you like you're crazy. But Pat knew what was going on. He was worried also. And so, we built a friendship really around worrying about Jim.
[00:33:28] KM: Interesting. You're such a nice person. I cannot believe all this stuff happened to you. Okay, let's just keep going.
[00:33:34] SM: You see? I told you. People don't believe it.
[00:33:36] KM: You and Pat decide to move to California.
[00:33:39] SM: Yes.
[00:33:40] KM: You're going off. Jim's fine. You're leaving. Are you divorced yet?
[00:33:45] SM: No. No. We didn't divorce forever.
[00:33:48] KM: Okay. The first job you get in California is with Occidental Petroleum. And you went – I think you went to an employment agency to get the job, I think.
[00:34:01] SM: Yeah, I wasn't wanting anything really to do except file things. I can remember saying, “I would like to put pieces of paper in file folders because I'm so traumatized by all of what's going on.”
[00:34:13] KM: 10 years with Jim.
[00:34:14] SM: Yeah, I was traumatized by the divorce. I was traumatized by what was happening to – – He was hiring a lot of people who were looking to make a big bunch of money.
And we had never been like that. It was never our goal to make a lot of money. But people were coming into the business that were having dreams that were about making a lot of money. It was scary to me. It was not what we had always been about.
And so, I was really traumatized when we left. And I told everybody, I said, “If I can get a job just filing pieces of paper, I'll be so happy.” I've been selling real estate. My last year, I made a lot of money selling real estate. Commissions. Not being paid for anything. But on commission. And I didn't want that anymore. I just wanted a peaceful life.
[00:35:07] KM: You fill out a resume with that employment agency that comes back to haunt you.
[00:35:15] SM: Not really.
[00:35:16] KM: I thought it did.
[00:35:17] SM: Well, it was supposed to. But –
[00:35:19] KM: Oh, they tried to make it haunt you.
[00:35:21] SM: They tried to make it haunt me. But unfortunately for them, I told the truth. I said, “I needed a job.” I told them that I could do secretarial work. And they said, “You put down here that you were a secretary.” I said, “Well, yeah, that's the job I wanted. I thought I'd better say I had some experience.” And they said, “Well, what was your experience?” I said, “Well, I'd sold real estate. I had helped build the bank. I had done marketing stuff. I'd done a lot of things. I didn't want to do that anymore. I just wanted to work in a peaceful place.” And the jury all looked at me like, “What is so wrong about her saying that she was a secretary?”
[00:36:00] KM: So, let’s tell the listeners that in the Whitewater trial, they tried to say Susan is this notorious liar. She lied on her resume. Which who doesn't, first of all?
[00:36:12] SM: Who lies down?
[00:36:15] KM: Yeah, right?
[00:36:17] SM: I mean, it wasn't like I was saying, “Yeah, I can run A&TT.” And it was like, “Yeah, just please, can I type and answer the phone?” Because I'm traumatized. I need a quiet place. When I held that up, I held it up like this in the jury room. And I said, “Yes, I absolutely lied on this. I have never been a secretary, but I thought I might be able to figure it out. And they loved it. They talked to me about it later.
That jury actually came and had dinner with me and came to Little Rock for the Little Rock trial. That jury followed me, and for the rest of my life. And I held that piece of paper up, the fraudulent, horrible Susan McDougal who lied down. And they just thought it was unbelievable how they had made such a big deal out of it. But you have to have you have nothing.
[00:37:10] KM: Right. Pat, though, he gets a job with Conductor Zubin. How do you say Zubin’s last name?
[00:37:19] SM: Mehta.
[00:37:20] KM: Mehta. He's a famous conductor.
[00:37:24] SM: Charming, good looking. Zubi big baby was his nickname.
[00:37:28] KM: Zubi baby. But he's also an absentee husband.
[00:37:32] SM: Oh, yes. Oh, yes.
[00:37:34] KM: His wife lives in California. And she's got all the money. And she's got all the prestige. And her husband is this big hot dog conductor.
[00:37:43] SM: Oh, she's fabulously beautiful too. She is in Jason and the Argonauts. She is the goddess in that movie. And she was in Bewitched. She was Darren’s girlfriend who was so gorgeous. And Samantha was angry at her. And she was in Dean Martin films and all of those spy films. She was absolutely, fabulously beautiful. Tall, good looking.
[00:38:10] KM: Blonde, I guess?
[00:38:11] SM: Smart. Blonde, yes.
[00:38:15] KM: And so, Pat's working for her. And he decides to go off to get his law degree and to leave California. And where does he go to start studying for law?
[00:38:26] SM: The University of Michigan.
[00:38:28] KM: He goes to Michigan. And he's been her assistant for a year or so. And he says –
[00:38:34] SM: She does real estate. She owns and sells real estate.
[00:38:37] KM: Okay? And so, he's going to leave that position and ask you if you want it?
[00:38:42] SM: No. He leaves the position. She's met me, because he works there. And she likes me. We strike up a friendship. And we do a lot of things together before Pat leaves. And when he leaves, she said, “I have been dreaming of you coming to work.” And she's on the mountain with the Gorillas in the Mist. I'm trying to talk and remember what he said. She's on a mountain with Gorillas in the Mist.
[00:39:13] KM: In her dream.
[00:39:15] SM: No, no, no, in the actuality of it. She is an Africa where they see the gorillas. They write about the Gorillas in the Mist. And this came to me that you need to come and work with me. I mean, who can say no to that? But I should have, because all I wanted was a peaceful life, right? That did not work out well.
[00:39:37] KM: Describe a day with Nancy.
[00:39:40] SM: She had a lot of rental property. Tom Hanks lived in one of the houses. And we would go over and see if things needed to be done. Or talk to them about you know what they needed. Or would you like a larger fish pond? Or whatever it was. Whatever it was, we were ladies who went.
[00:40:00] KM: Even though she was crazy, you liked her. But you –
[00:40:03] SM: Oh, we were very close. Oh my gosh!
[00:40:06] KM: Y'all did everything together.
[00:40:07] SM: Well, that not by my choice. But yes.
[00:40:10] KM: She wouldn't let you out of her sight.
[00:40:11] SM: No.
[00:40:12] KM: She made you sleep with her sometimes. I mean, not just like bunking parties.
[00:40:18] SM: No. No, we never slept.
[00:40:19] KM: I thought you had to spend the night there sometimes.
[00:40:20] SM: No. She came. And I was in an apartment. And she had the movers come and pick my things up and put them in her house. She had a huge home.
[00:40:28] KM: You started noticing she was a little quirky and clingy. And you decided I need to get my life back. And you start talking about wanting to leave. She was not going to go for that.
[00:40:39] SM: No. Really, in fact, her attorney said to me, “This is not going to end well. She gets what she wants. And this is not going to go well.”
[00:40:51] KM: How many years did you end up working for –
[00:40:52] SM: But I was an adult. And I figured I could go, you know?
[00:40:55] KM: Right. How many years did you work for her?
[00:40:57] SM: Oh, not that many. I don't know, five, maybe?
[00:41:00] KM: Oh, that's a pretty long time. And then you go home to visit your mother. And she tells you that somebody called from California.
[00:41:07] SM: Okay, I'm in Michigan. And my mother calls me and says someone wants to know – someone from the Independent Counsel’s Office is calling Independent Counsel’s Office and wanting to know where you are. And I was working at the university. And that was lovely. Loved being there. And my mom called and said, “Somebody from the Independent Counsel's Office wants to talk with you.” And I had been reading in the newspaper that they were investigating President Clinton. And I knew that I didn't want any part of that. So, I never called them back.
[00:41:38] KM: Did you get the Whitewater invest – So you got the call from your mother about Whitewater? Had you heard about the Mehta trail yet?
[00:41:46] SM: No. Not at all.
[00:41:46] KM: Whitewater was first. And then the Mehta trial came second.
[00:41:50] SM: Because they were hooked together.
[00:41:52] KM: Yeah. Which we later found out that they we're all –
[00:41:54] SM: Yes. Whitewater had to have happened first before the Mehta thing too have happened.
[00:42:00] KM: Right. All right, this a great place to take a break. But we're going to solve that riddle when we come back.
[00:42:05] SM: I'm worn out.
[00:42:06] GM: No.
[00:42:08] GM: But we're just getting started.
[00:42:10] TW: We'll be back at Karen McCoy’s Susan McDougal interview. This is only part one of a two-part interview with Susan McDougal. We'll continue again next week. And in just a second, after we remind you that this is a very special time, if you've thought about making a donation to the Friends of Dreamland, to make that donation. Because there's a corporate matching campaign going on right now. Your gift will be matched up to $50,000 as we help build a future that Arkansas can be proud of, as the Friends of Dreamland fulfill that mission that they've had for years to celebrate the community of historic West 9th Street, share the legacy of the Dreamland ballroom and preserve the original intent of Taborian Hall.
Taborian Hall downtown is the location of flagandbanner.com. And it's that family through proven partnership that invites you to share in this restoration effort. Participate in the special matching gift opportunity. Arkansas Flag and Banner Inc., will match every dollar you give up to $50,000.
You know, as the Friends of Dreamland ballroom near the end of the funds that they got from the African American Civil Rights Preservation Grant for the elevator edition, they're looking at work that needs to be done outside that grant’s scope. It involves all kinds of outdoor access to the ballroom that we need. So, this matching gift campaign couldn't be better timed. Please think about it. Friends of Dreamland.
Now back to Kerry McCoy.
[00:43:40] KM: All right, you're listening to Up in Your Business with me, Kerry McCoy, and I'm speaking today with Miss Susan McDougal, defendant of the1994 Whitewater investigation.
And notably known as the woman that wouldn't talk. Your mother has called you and said the Whitewater investigation is going on. And you said, “Yeah, I saw that on TV.” And they called you. And you were like, “Well, I'm not going to call them back.”
[00:44:01] SM: No, it was really a blip in the New York Times. It was a very small story like on page 10 that said an investigation has been started on President Clinton and a small real estate company in Little Rock, Arkansas.
And I saw that and thought, “Well, that's not good.” And then mother said they were calling me. And I thought, “I don't really have much to say. Nothing happened that I know.”
[00:44:28] KM: In the beginning, the OIC was investigating Jim and his savings and loan company? Or where they investigating Whitewater? How did Madison Guaranty end up in the Whitewater investigation?
[00:44:41] SM: Bill Clinton and Hillary bought a piece of land with a house on it from the Whitewater Development Corporation as an investment vacation home thing. He owned a lot and a house, a vacation home.
[00:44:58] KM: How did you first end up meeting with OIC about Madison Guaranty? Tell us about that first meeting.
[00:45:05] SM: I was asked to come down. And I think I looked through attorneys in Arkansas through a book. And Bobby McDaniel was listed as one of the best trial lawyers in Arkansas. And I called him and I said, “They've asked me to come and talk with them. And I wondered if you'd go with me?” And he said he would.
[00:45:33] KM: You were already like, “This is scary.”
[00:45:37] SM: No, not really. I was going to go by myself. And I think someone intervened and said, “You probably should have somebody –”
[00:45:45] KM: Probably, your boyfriend, Pat, has a lawyer?
[00:45:48] SM: Maybe. But he wasn't really on top of all that fearfulness either. Neither one of us really thought it would be anything because we'd both been there. And when you know that there's no there-there, you're not really afraid of it, you know?
[00:46:03] KM: Mm-hmm. So, you meet in Arkansas. You go down – Where you living in Michigan at the time?
[00:46:08] SM: Yes, I came down to Little Rock. And Bobby, whom I've never met, met me at the – somewhere here in Little Rock, one of the office buildings. And I called Pat and I said, “He has on cowboy boots with his suit.” And he said, “You’ve got to get over it. You're in Arkansas.” I said, “Okay, I'm over it. Okay, fine.”
And so, I went in. And I will never forget how personable he was and how kind he was to me. I didn't think we were going to get along that well. And we really did. I was about to go in the door of the building, of the room where they were all waiting on us. And he stopped me and said, “Just remember, truth rings like a bell. People know it when they hear it. Never forget that.”
And so, we went in to talk with them. Had no idea what we were going into. And there were a lot of them in there. There were probably, I'm going to say, seven to 10 people on one side of the table, on the side of that table. FBI agents, OIC people, lawyers, all from Washington. All Washington lawyers, FBI.
[00:47:37] KM: What were the questions – What were the questions they were asking?
[00:47:38] SM: Well, they didn't ask me any questions. I thought they were going to. I was excited to be able to tell them, “I was there. And I didn't say anything. And all that.” There was a stack of papers in the middle of the table, large stacks of papers. And I sat down. And first thing he said was, “Let's not all be on the side of the table. Why don't some of us go over there and be with her? And then some of us can –” I said, “It’s okay. That's alright. I'm fine.”
And so, then, I said, “I'd like to talk with you all.” And Bobby said, “Susan would like to tell you that she never saw anything illegal or unethical even that the Clintons did. So, we just want to start there.” And he took the papers, and he pushed them aside with his hand and he said, “I'd really not like to have to go through those. We would like to make you an offer. And the offer is universal immunity. And we do our jobs well. We've done this a lot. This is something that we've talked about, and we'd like to offer you that in exchange for your testimony.” And I said something like, “Well, I don't know anything that I could offer you in testimony. I never saw anything that was wrong, or illegal or anything.” And he said, “We believe we can convict you of multiple felonies.” And he had his hand on top of the papers. And he said, “We believe we have the evidence.” And I said, “Well, I'd like to see that.” And he said, “No, that's not necessary today. We're here to talk about this offer that we’re make you.” “That's just not going to happen. Because I don't know anything that anyone has done illegally. I was so naive. I just can't tell you.”
And I tell them I did not – I was not going to be doing that. It was not the way I thought things worked. And I would like to just answer what they thought I'd done wrong. And they didn't say anything. And I said, “Well, we're leaving.” So, we got up to leave. And they must have leaked that I was going to be there because we didn't. And there were a ton of television cameras out there to film me leaving being questioned by the Office of Independent Counsel. And I wish every person accused of something could see my face.
I mean, it is so naive, I say something like, “You know, this is really wrong. Things like this don't happen in America. I believe in the justice system. And I'm sure that everything will work out just fine.” And I have these big eyes and this little innocent face. And so embarrassing to look back on it knowing what was coming. And probably everyone knew what was coming who was involved but me.
And I just really thought at the time, “This is the stupidest thing I've ever heard of that you're going to tell me that I have felonies that you're going to prove and send me to prison. And I know it's not true. It's just not true.” And so, I never believed any of it. And I never spoke to them again.
[00:50:47] KM: You didn't?
[00:50:48] SM: No.
[00:50:49] KM: What was the next thing that happened? I told them I wasn't going to speak with them again. No.
[00:50:54] KM: So, you go back to Michigan?
[00:50:56] SM: Listen, my father, who is on Omaha Beach on D-Day for our country, my family believed in that. There's no way I was going to accept that they were going to tell me I had broken the law and put me in jail and make me testify against somebody when I knew it was not true. And so, I really thought when I walked out that day that that was it. It was over. I told them. And there was no proof anywhere that I had done anything wrong, which later proves to be true.
[00:51:28] KM: So, you go back to Michigan after that and just like, “Everything's going to be fine. Tell Pat, there's nothing – Everything's going to be fine.” When is the next ball drop?
[00:51:39] SM: When I was indicted. I was at work. And somebody – Oh, a reporter for ABC News called me and said, “There's an indictment, a 20-page indictment with your name on it. Would you like to make a comment?” And I said, “You want to tell me more about what? Would you like to tell me a little bit more about that?” And they said, “Well, we're outside. We can meet you and talk with you.” And I said, “No, that won't be necessary. But thank you for calling.”
[00:52:13] KM: You didn't even know.
[00:52:14] SM: I had no idea.
[00:52:15] TW: That's the end of part one of the Susan McDougal interview with Kerry McCoy on Up in Your Business. Next week, we'll follow up from the point of the indictment being issued, and also tackle these subjects:
[00:52:26] KM: Susan's unexpected pardon from President Clinton. How she has started over what she's doing today.
To our listeners, thank you for spending time with us. We hope you've heard or learned something that's been inspiring or enlightening. I'm Kerry McCoy and I'll see you next time on Up in Your Business. Until then, be brave and keep it up.
[00:52:44] GM: You've been listening to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy. For links to resources you heard discussed on today's show, go to flagandbanner.com. Kerry's goal is simple, to help you live the American dream.
[0:00:09] CC: Welcome to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy, a production of flagandbanner.com.
[0:00:14] ANNOUNCER: This week on Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy, we're going to pick up our interview with Susan McDougal, with part two of the conversation with this fascinating woman. If you heard last week's part one of this interview, you'll know we ended it on the day she found out she was being indicted.
[0:00:30] SM: I was at work. A reporter for ABC News called me and said, “There's a indictment, a 20-page indictment with your name on it.”
[0:00:44] KM: How long before you went to trial? ABC calls you, tells you you've been indicted. Now, how long before you go to trial?
[0:00:50] SM: By the time I went to trial, and I didn't go to jail for going to trial. I went to jail for refusing to testify. By that point, I was so happy to go to jail, because I was being followed and filmed and yelled at everywhere I went. I couldn't do anything. My parents had cameras out in the front yard and they were elderly. It was horrifying. I was so glad to be where no one could come and get me. It was a relief, the first jail I went to. I thought, this is what it feels like to just be safe.
[0:01:28] KM: Interesting. Let's talk about the trial. You go to trial. What's the first thing that happens? Character assassination. David Hale. Who was David Hale and what part did he play in the investigation?
[0:01:40] SM: David Hale testified that Bill Clinton told him he needed some money. The only way David Hale could help him with that was to make up some loans. He had a loan company, a federally backed loan company. The federal government would give him money to loan out at good interest rates for small businesses. It's an SBA loan office. If you had a small business, you could go in and get a very low-rate loan to start this business. David Hale was producing these loans, but only for members of his own family and for his friends.
His idea to save himself was, “Yes, I did that. I also did it for Susan McDougal. I made a loan for her, a very small interest rate and that was supposed to go to Bill Clinton. That was the deal. Everybody knew it Susan knew it. Bill Clinton knew it. I knew it.”
[0:02:45] KM: It was all a lie.
[0:02:46] SM: It was –
[0:02:48] KM: It was all a proffer he made to save his own skin.
[0:02:51] SM: That's exactly right. They had found out that he was making all of these loans and they realized. He was even making up names on the loans. The people didn't exist and he was taking the money himself.
[0:03:03] KM: He was going down big time. He actually was the only person in the whole trial, who was actually a crook. He proffered and threw everybody else under the bus with lies.
[0:03:13] SM: He found Justice Jim Johnson. Do you remember him?
[0:03:15] KM: Yes.
[0:03:16] SM: Told him the story and they concocted the whole thing. You were making loans? Well, hey, you were making loans and Bill Clinton got the money. Bill Clinton raised more money than any single political candidate in the history of the world.
[0:03:34] KM: Really?
[0:03:34] SM: But he needed me to go make a loan with David Hale, a man I had never met in my entire life for $300,000 and take him that money. He needed to break the law and get me to break the law. We all knew it. He had more money raised than anyone ever in the history of the presidency. He was known to be a fundraiser.
[0:04:00] KM: Yeah, that's what he's known for.
[0:04:02] SM: Yeah, that was the story. That was the story that I was supposed to say was true.
[0:04:08] KM: You said, “No, I'm not going to do it.”
[0:04:10] SM: Well, I didn't know that for a long time. I mean, that took a while. It took David Hale getting indicted. It took David Hale giving them the story. It’s like, here it is. The US attorney at the time, this lovely woman, I didn't know her, but she was awfully lovely to me, went on television and said, “This is a crock of nothing. It's a lie. I don't believe him.” They took that on to a federal judge who said, “Yes, I believe this and I believe we will start an investigation.”
[0:04:43] KM: Everybody saying, there's nothing there. You're going to get off. You're feeling pretty good about it. Then your ex-husband gets up there on the witness stand and he throws you under the bus.
[0:04:52] SM: Yeah, you're talking during the trial now. Because this was a run-up to the trial, where they're trying to decide, are they guilty? Have they done something wrong? They kept hiring people who said no. Finally, they hired Ken Starr, who said, “I think there's something here. We need to pursue this.”
[0:05:13] KM: They finally found a judge who'll take it. They finally find Kenneth Starr who take it, who all have Republican ambitions to go higher up. They come down to Arkansas –
[0:05:22] SM: We don't know this at the time. We're just seriously wondering. It's really the first time this is happening. You realize now, we have seen a whole lot of this misinformation in the public arena, and a lot of people willing to say anything. At that time, I did not think that these were bad people, or that they were out to get me. I just thought, somebody has gotten this wrong. They don't realize that they didn't do anything wrong. I am not in the least thinking this is a conspiracy. You have to remember how innocent we all were back in those days before these huge conspiracy things had ever started.
[0:06:01] GM: This is the beginning of the 24-hour news cycle, and the public spectacle of –
[0:06:07] SM: Being able to sell misinformation to people rapidly and convincingly.
[0:06:13] KM: It's the birth of the Internet.
[0:06:15] GM: Yeah. That was happening, too.
[0:06:17] KM: Internet was 1995. Your trial is –
[0:06:21] SM: I thank God every day, there was no CNN. Every day. When I see these people being dragged through all of these reporters, and I think that could have been me. Instead of that I just was hunted and hounded by people with parabolic dishes on top of vans.
[0:06:48] SM: Oh, well. Whatever it is, it was not nice.
[0:06:53] KM: You go through this trial, you get to the end, you think you're going to walk free, they've ruined –
[0:06:59] SM: No, no. I don’t. I get to the trial. I don't testify, because there's nothing at all that they say I've done that's illegal. Then I'm found guilty.
[0:07:09] KM: Yeah. You think you're going to be okay. Then Jim McDougal gets on the stand.
[0:07:14] SM: Yes.
[0:07:16] KM: The guy you have tied your apron strings to, that you think is a good guy that you have been taken care of for years, he gets up there and he's a little – he's having one of his – he's decided to proffer, because they found something on him.
[0:07:30] SM: No, no, no, no, no. Jim decides he's going to testify, because he is really – he is a good conversationalist. People like him. Unfortunately, it did not work that day. He really looked horrible. He looked like he was lying. It was just bad. It was so bad that I wept, after his testimony. I just left the courtroom. Found some stairs and wept. It was the saddest thing to see him having been reduced to that, which is really what you would call it. The battering, the spending all of our money, being penniless, everything we'd ever worked for was gone.
The person that I had most trusted in my life that was brilliant and had always been a great Democrat and always cared about people is reduced to a liar, looking like the worst person in the world. It broke my heart. It broke my heart to see him in that place.
[0:08:32] KM: Still breaks your heart.
[0:08:34] SM: It's terrible. What they did to him shouldn't have been done to anybody.
[0:08:39] KM: What sticks out in your mind most about that time and trial?
[0:08:43] SM: I was sitting next to Jim Guy’s lawyer. He taught at law school in Chicago. Every time they would say something, he leaned over and whispered in my ear about how this was not – Good lord, this was never going to – It's just lovely. I learned a lot from him in staying calm and believing that this was going to be okay. He believed it, too. He was older. I think he saved my life through that, just telling me. He would stand up and say, “Your Honor, this isn't good law. This isn't even true in the law.” They're arguing something. He would just argue and argue and argue. I really loved him.
[0:09:23] KM: Afterwards, you await sentencing. You're found guilty on four counts. You can't believe it. You're like, “What?” You go to Claudia Riley's house in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, and Jim is also there waiting for sentencing.
When we come back, sentencing and shackles. We're speaking with Miss Susan McDougal, the woman that wouldn't talk during the 1994 Whitewater trial. Still to come, Susan's interview with Diane Sawyer and Larry King, her sentencing and jail time and why she chose contempt of court over talking. We'll be right back.
[0:09:54] ANNOUNCER: Flagandbanner.com, a resource for all questions about flag etiquette. Learn how American flags should be handled and displayed. How about boating flag etiquette? Learn the traditions and the etiquette for both boats and yachts. There's a calendar of events on holidays that are coming up, that you can proudly fly a flag. What do the different ways of folding a flag actually mean? Along with these handy tips, there's letter visibility charts, there’s standard flag size documents, there's custom flag comparison charts. It's a real resource for displaying old glory. Please visit flagandbanner.com.
[0:10:33] KM: You're listening to Up in Your Business with me, Kerry McCoy, and I'm speaking today with Miss Susan McDougal, defendant of the 1994 Whitewater trial and target of Kenneth Starr and Judge Susan Webber Wright’s investigation.
[0:10:46] SM: I went to the capitol hotel during the sentencing span. My niece came up and ordered – We didn't even know what to order. She said, “What do we order?” I said, “I don't know. A drink.” She said, “Let's have whiskey sours. I saw that in the movie.” I said, “Okay, that sounds good to me.” I'm sipping it, it's horrific. It's whiskey sour. Who drinks that? At my sentencing, they brought up that they were watching me and that I was drinking. You have to fill out this thing, don't drink, don't smoke, don't mess around. That I was a liar. They had seen me drinking.
[0:11:29] GM: So petty.
[0:11:31] SM: So needing something.
[0:11:32] GM: I know. Yeah.
[0:11:33] SM: So desperately needing something.
[0:11:35] KM: We have been through the trial. We are now going to sentencing. You're going to Claudia Riley's house in Arkadelphia, Arkansas to wait. I think there's a few months in there before they sentence you. Jim goes down. Goes down and stays in her house that's lower than where you are. It's at the foot of the hill.
[0:11:55] SM: The guest house, as Claudia would say.
[0:11:58] KM: The guest house.
[0:11:58] SM: The trailer is I would say, but Claudia called it the guest house.
[0:12:01] KM: The trailer.
[0:12:02] SM: The trailer.
[0:12:03] KM: While you're there, Ken Starr gang starts visiting him.
[0:12:07] SM: They're trying to make it eligible for him to plead guilty and to testify against Clinton. They're bringing candy. I mean, it looked like the Three Wise Man. They were bearing gifts going in there.
[0:12:22] KM: But he's already been found guilty from the trial, though. We're awaiting sentencing.
[0:12:29] SM: Yes. However, you can accept guilty, which was fine. But if you don't want to accept guilty and go to prison, you're going to have to give him something. You're going to have to tell the story for them, and then they give you probation.
[0:12:46] KM: Oh, so he's still –
[0:12:47] SM: You’re so naïve.
[0:12:49] KM: Me. Yeah. No, right?
[0:12:52] SM: You're convicted, so you're facing a lot of time, right? They're going to ask for the maximum. They're going to come after you. He got very scared. There was a phone call. He was talking to me about cooperating with the independent counsel. I understood it, because he was sick, and I didn't want him to go to prison. I cared about it. I said, I get it. I understand what you're doing.
I was at the guest house with him and he said, “Listen to this,” and he called them. He said, “I'm going to need a driver to go around. I'm not well enough to drive. I don't have my car anymore.” He looked at me and did a thumbs up. They had agreed to a car and a driver. He said, “And I'll need money, because I've spent everything I have defending myself.” He gave me a thumbs up. Money was included. “I will need a hospital prison, because I'm ill. Not just a regular prison, but a place that has good care for people, of federal prison.” He looked at me, and he gave me a thumbs up. They had agreed that's going to happen if I go to prison.
Then he got this really funny look on his face. When he hung up the phone, he said, “You're not going to believe this.” I said, “What?” He said, “Kenneth Starr is going to come to my sentencing and he is going to stand there. He's going to stand up for me. He's going to say that like Saul on the road to Damascus, that you have had this blinding light from God and you're going to tell the truth now. That is why you've agreed to cooperate with the independent counsel that you have had a conversion from God. God has spoken to you. You had been blinded, but now you can see.”
Actually, that was when I decided that I was never going to cooperate, because that is taking a man's soul. There's no coming back from saying, “Yeah, I'm going to tell you that Bill Clinton stole a bunch of money to run for president and I helped him do it. Susan was in on it, too, probably.” There's no telling what he had to agree to. You don't know what he's agreed to. You just know he's going to lie. He's going to try to get himself out of trouble. That was not the man I knew, ever. That was not him. They have broken him. They have reduced him. They have scared him and he is sick, when I see what they have done to him. I hate them.
I tell myself that this is not going to be you ever, ever. Whatever happens. I've never talked to the media. Our decision was that there was no crime. That we should just let that play out. Not appear to be too worried about it, or upset about it. I sat down one day in my infinite wisdom, and said to myself, “I would like to speak to a nice southern girl who could get me, who could understand what I'm trying to say to her.” I thought, “Diane Sawyer looks like a nice person. Ooh, I'll call her.” I called and she took my phone call.
[0:16:22] KM: Of course, she did.
[0:16:23] GM: Sure.
[0:16:25] SM: I decided that my brother went up with me and my brother is – I mean, he is like Samson. He is so strong, and so well spoken, so handsome that they all want to talk to him, that he comes with me. We go up there. The guy shows up, this reporter that you're talking about, Chris, whatever. He becomes part of the production team on this interview, which does not go well at all. She is not listening to me and I am not getting to say what I want to say. In fact, when it airs, it's all cut up to pieces. I look like I've done – like I've taken money from babies. I mean, it's just horrible. Because I was still waiting to be sentenced. I had to be careful.
[0:17:16] KM: A lot of people didn't think you should do it.
[0:17:19] SM: A lot of people thought I shouldn't do it. Bill was very good. He stepped out in front of the cameras. That's my brother. Pretty much, just told them how it was going to go and based off the cameras. He was on camera and I was on camera saying, “I can't talk about that.” It did look bad. Larry King called me and he said, “I saw that interview, and that is a crock. That's the worst interview I've ever seen. It is a total lie. You need to come on my show. I will not interrupt you. It's live. You don't have to worry about being cut, and being made to look guilty. Just come tell the truth to the people.”
I mean, it wasn't two days later, that he flew me out there. I was at that desk on Larry King Live. People started calling. I started just telling the story, like I'm telling you all today. People started calling in and calling in. He said, he never had a show were people were so calling in angry, upset. One of the OSC called and said, “Listen, she just needs to talk to us. We can make this better.” They're wanting to talk. Pat and my brother started talking to this lady with the OSC. When they came back and told me, I said, “You two have lost your minds. No.”
[0:18:42] KM: What she want you to do?
[0:18:43] SM: She was going to make a deal. I was going to get probation, not have to go to jail. I was going to be vindicated. Whatever the promises were. You know what happened to Jim McDougal and his promises, don't you? He's dead.
[0:18:57] KM: Yes.
[0:18:58] SM: Yes. He died in jail. That's how they kept their promise to him. No. But I didn't know that at the time. I'm getting a little wiser and a little bit angrier than I was before. I said, no. They both were so upset with me. My brother and Pat. Pat cried. Cried and said, “I'm begging you to take this offer from this lady. She wants to help you. She likes you. She saw you on Larry King Live. She really wants to –” No.
[0:19:29] KM: She wants you to give some dirt on Clinton, right? Lie and not finding something.
[0:19:32] SM: It would have been something. It would have been something.
[0:19:35] KM: Selling your soul, as you said.
[0:19:37] SM: I said, no. My brother said, “So what's your plan?” He's very action-oriented. I said, my plan is to do whatever I have to do. Take it. Not complain about it. Get through this and live my life.
[0:19:55] KM: Describe being taken out after the sentencing.
[0:19:59] SM: Actually, I wasn't taken out. I walked out. You have to report back. They give you a date to come back after your sentence to go to jail. You get to go home. I was at out on bond, or bail, on my own recognizance. I walked out and a reporter came up and said, “How do you feel?” I said, “Are you kidding me?” That's the only thing I said. I went home. I think, I went to Claudia’s, Claudia Riley’s house. Curled up in a fetal position. Until she wouldn't let me anymore, which was probably about three hours later. She wanted me up and talking about it and working on it and processing it. She was not going to let me play the tragic part.
[0:20:44] KM: So, you go to city jail the first night? When we see the picture of you walking out in shackles, which jail are you going to?
[0:20:50] SM: That, I'm going to Faulkner County Jail. That's a very funny story. I'm in the cell and they decide that they are – They call me out and they put the handcuffs on, first time in my life. I'm thinking, I might need to lie on somebody at this moment. Because I've never had handcuffs. Then they put a waist chain around, and they tie the handcuffs to that, so you can't move your hands at all, at all. Not even to cover to fall or something. Then they put those huge, heavy metal shackles on my ankles. I'm standing there thinking, “You know Susan, you're not as strong as you thought you were. What are you doing?”
I mean, I had a moment of crisis right then. Then they brought these two great big guys from other cells, and they chained me to them. The three of us are chained together in shackles, handcuffs and waist chains and we're walking down a dark corridor in the federal building. No one's there. It's after hours. I'm thinking, “Thank God, no one's here to see this. This would just be awful if people were hanging out and saw this.” All you can hear is “Chi-ching. Chi-Ching. Chi-ching.” You can hear the chains on the floor, like something out of Edgar Allan Poe.
I get to the door. I'm the first in line of course. Why? I don't know. The door opens. It's sunlight outside. It's dark in the building. There are a billion people there with parabolic discs and vans. As you say, sad life. God only knows how many people were – It looked like a sea of people, taking pictures and screaming, “Susan. Susan. Hey, Susan. Blah, blah, blah. Susan, blah.” The guy behind me says, “God, what the hell did you do?” He didn't even know. I started to smile. I thought that was funny. What did I do? I don't kill somebody.
I walked out to the van thinking, that's the funniest thing that's ever happened to this guy, who God knows what he's done, right? He's worried about what I've done. Anyway, it was a moment in time that let me see that I didn't have to play the tragic part as Claudia would say.
[0:23:22] KM: You are now at the Faulkner County Detention Center in Conway, Arkansas. What were the ladies doing when you got there?
[0:23:29] SM: They're watching television, which it was me starring in chains. They were all glued to the TV. They were like, “She's coming here. Oh, my God. She's coming here. We're going to get see her.” Yeah. I come in, chink, chink, chink, chink. They open the door and there I am and there I am. I mean, I'm seeing myself on television. They're seeing me and they're going to the TV and watching me – My God, what an incredible bunch of people. Oh, my God. I love them.
[0:24:02] KM: What was the game they played when you got there?
[0:24:04] SM: Well, the first thing that happened was this little girl, really tiny young woman came over to me and she said, “I was so scared when I first came here.” She said, “That's my bed up on the wall. It has a window. Why don't you sleep there tonight?” Everybody's on the floor sleeping on mattresses, people walking over you. There were so many people on the floor, you couldn't walk. You had to walk over people. She gave up her bed. I just couldn't believe it. I thought, “What's happening?” That’s my first thought, “Where am I?”
After that, these women came over and they started saying, “Man, I don't get it. They told me I didn't have to testify. I had the right not to. How come you're in jail for not testifying? They keep saying you had to testify.” I said, “It's complicated. But when you go to the grand jury, they give you immunity and you have to testify, and I didn't.” They said, “Man, that aint’ right.” They said, “Get over here. Didn't they tell you?” They were asking each other, “Hey, I thought the truth in that – I got that right, right. You don't have to testify. That's in the Constitution.” I said, “It's a long story. I had to testify at the time and I refused.”
[0:25:25] KM: I don't understand either. I mean, can't you plead the fifth?
[0:25:30] SM: You cannot, because you have been given immunity. You can only plead the fifth, if you're going to be – I'm pleading the fifth amendment, because I'm afraid I'm going to be charged with something. You've heard that people say the line. If you're not going to be charged with something and you're being told, “We're going to give you immunity from any testimony that you give today, you have to testify or go to jail.”
[0:25:59] KM: They moved you to Carswell Federal Prison in Fort Worth, Texas.
[0:26:03] SM: The only problem I had at Carswell was they put me on the floor with people who were having psychological problems. It was violent.
[0:26:17] KM: Violent?
[0:26:19] SM: A violent floor, because people were fighting and it was scary.
[0:26:24] KM: All right, this begins the beginning of diesel therapy. I had to look that up. This is the beginning of the torturous tactic by Kenneth Starr and Judge Susan Webber Wright, called diesel therapy. It is a form of punishment in which prisoners are shackled, and then transported for days, or weeks. It has been described as the cruelest aspect of being a federal inmate. It has been alleged that some inmates are deliberately sent to incorrect destinations as an exercise of diesel therapy. I had looked that one up.
[0:26:53] SM: Good for you. That is the best description of it I've ever had.
[0:26:58] KM: Thank you, Wikipedia.
[0:26:59] SM: Let me tell you the hard part for me, is that your family doesn't know where you are. You've suddenly disappeared in the middle of the night. You've been calling them, they know where you are. They come visit on the weekend. My mother brought food for everybody. I mean, it was joyful to see my family. I'm gone. They know not where. No one can tell them. I'm on the road.
[0:27:22] KM: How long before they find out?
[0:27:25] SM: Well, they know I'm gone. When I get where I'm going, there's also a prohibition against using the phone, or writing anyone, or anything for a long time.
[0:27:35] KM: Oh, that is scary.
[0:27:37] SM: I thought about writing a travel guide for jails.
[0:27:42] GM: Oh, my God.
[0:27:43] SM: In the seven.
[0:27:43] GM: I’d buy it.
[0:27:45] SM: Yeah. Definitely, make sure you rob a bank and that it's not a liquor store. Because a federal bank gets you in a nice, cushy bed and good food.
[0:27:55] GM: Oh, my God.
[0:27:56] SM: Fruit. I hadn’t seen a fruit in forever. I got fruit at Carswell. Got to walk out on a running track. Yeah, it was a totally different experience. That did not last long. I was thriving there. I was with all the Jewish women who had ever broken the law, which is about four. I was there for Christmas. Didn't get to see my family. That was when I was moved. They move you at holidays to make sure it's horribly painful on your family, and I don't get to see you. You're miserable, because it's Christmas, but I wasn't. I was making Challah bread with the Jewish ladies. We did the menorah. They prayed for me and blessed me, and it was lovely. I had never done a menorah at Christmas and it was just – It was breathtaking to be in that place.
[0:28:54] KM: Why did they move you? What was their choose they gave you?
[0:28:56] SM: I’m sure, that it was said, they heard I was with the Jewish ladies and baking Challah bread.
[0:29:02] KM: What was the excuse they gave you?
[0:29:03] SM: This lady met me at the door when they brought me in. I was brought in at a private jet. They came with automatic weapons to pick me up at the airport from a private jet, like a drug lord. I mean, it was unbelievable. I get to the prison, I'm scared to death completely. This girl who's filling out my paperwork said, “Hey, could you be Jewish?” I said, “Well, sure.” She said, “Yeah, it's good in here if you're Jewish. There's a few of us.” I said, “I'm in. Markdown Jewish.” That's how that happened. That lady was hooking me up. That's what that's called.
[0:29:46] KM: She liked you right off the bat.
[0:29:47] SM: She hooked me up. Well, if they knew I was coming, it was all over television. Television is everywhere. That's all they have in jail.
[0:29:54] KM: That’s all they have.
[0:29:55] SM: They knew I was coming. That lady got up there and she said, “I'm going to hook her up,” and she did.
[0:29:59] KM: Why are you taken out of Carswell Federal Prison and sent to Sybil Brand Institute?
[0:30:04] SM: Because Sybil Brand is notoriously the hardest prison in America.
[0:30:10] KM: Said it was squalor.
[0:30:11] SM: Oh, it's terrible. Well, I get to Sybil Brand. I don't know where I am. They just bring you. They don't really tell you where are –
[0:30:19] KM: You don’t know what city you’re in.
[0:30:20] SM: I know nothing. My family doesn't know again, where I am for a month. They're walking me down a row. It looks like Rikers Island, or something. You know that island out in the middle of the water? Not Rikers. What is the name? But anyway, it's just like that.
[0:30:36] KM: Alcatraz.
[0:30:37] SM: Alcatraz. I've been there and it is exactly the same. They're metal doors, and there's two people behind each door, and I'm walking by and there's a guard with me. I said, “Hi.” They just looked at me. I got to the next hill, I said, “Hey. Hi.” Later, they told me, they said, “We thought you were crazy, because I mean, you're coming into and you’re like Miss America. You're waving at us.” Yeah. “You're waving. Going, “Hey, how are you guys? Good to see you.” I said, “Well, I just wanted to be friendly, for God's sake. What's wrong with you all?” I'm so mad that they thought I was crazy. I’m just trying to be nice.
[0:31:22] KM: Did you get to talk to him, or did they put you in K-10 lockdown?
[0:31:25] SM: No, no. In this one, in this deal, it was a lockdown for all of us. We were in cells. I was in a single cell, because I was a federal prisoner. This was a state facility and they couldn't just put me with anybody. I have single cell to myself in the middle. Then all down were people who had murdered people.
[0:31:46] KM: Do you get out to ever socialize?
[0:31:48] SM: No, but they come to my cell. They let the other people out.
[0:31:51] KM: Why won’t they let you out?
[0:31:53] SM: Because I’m a dangerous – They just wouldn't.
[0:31:57] SM: Everybody else gets free time to come out of their cells, but you.
[0:32:00] SM: That is a true story. Yes. I would get out to shower, but they'd lock everybody up and I’d have time to shower and get back in. I think the ACLU complained. I got to go into basketball court by myself. They will let me out and have time to do that. I could not even see the chaplain. That was not allowed. That is the truth.
[0:32:21] KM: Is that to make you crazy? Because the lack of –
[0:32:23] SM: I think it’s to make me crazy. I do.
[0:32:27] KM: Is Sybil Brand where your lawyer came to see you, that turned your life around? He's your savior. Mark Geragos.
[0:32:36] SM: I had a breast lump. They had released that to the press, which they're not supposed to do. My mother and family found out. They were so upset. They thought I would die in prison of breast cancer, or something. The ACLU saw it and came to see me. They said, “Susan McDougal, your attorney is here.” I said, “That's impossible. I don’t have an attorney.”
[0:33:00] KM: I don’t have an attorney.
[0:33:02] SM: I learned later on to say yes to everything that sounded good. I went and she said, “Listen, I know a guy. He's great. I think he'll take your case, if you're interested.” She said, “I really think it's horrible what they're doing to you.” I said, “Yeah, I would love to see him.” He shows up. They said, “Susan, McDougal, your attorney is here.” I said, “Yes.” I went down there. He was impeccably dressed. He said, I have a small firm. It's me and my dad and my brother. He said, “We don't have a whole big firm that we can devote to this. But I'll tell you, if you want me to help you, I will.” I said, “The only thing you have to promise me is that you won't bargain me away. You won't do something that's going to bargain, that I would testify, or that something like that. That's the only thing I ask that you not do.” He said, “I understand.”
We agreed. I called home and everybody lost their mugs. They said, “What? What have you done?” Yeah, they couldn't believe I was negotiating with an attorney in the jail where I was, but it just was perfect. Absolutely perfect. It was fabulous. Oh, my gosh. He made mincemeat of them. He was one guy in a mom and dad pop store. He took the OIC to school. I was never convicted, or put in jail, or nada again. He came on the case and it was over.
[0:34:47] KM: Why did they move you to Twin Towers?
[0:34:49] SM: They closed Sybil Brand.
[0:34:51] KM: I was wondering about that.
[0:34:53] SM: Yeah. They closed it.
[0:34:54] KM: It was on a fault line in California was the excuse they used.
[0:34:58] SM: We had an earthquake and they all ran and left us in there.
[0:35:04] GM: Oh, my God.
[0:35:04] KM: Oh, my gosh.
[0:35:08] SM: That is a true story. They ran like scared rabbits. We can't see each other. We can just yell out of the – “Hey, are you guys doing –” “Yeah, we're all here.” I said, “Where did they go?” “They ran.” I mean, it's shaking and it's moving. Somebody is saying, “The doors might open, like in the Bible when there's the earthquake, and all the prison, and Paul gets released.” I'm like, “Whoa.” When you're in my position, things like that sound real. Do you know what I mean? I’m like, “Okay, I'm ready. Let's all go together.” Yeah, so they closed it, because that was – We could have all been mushed in there.
[0:35:56] KM: Yeah, you could have. You go down to Twin Towers.
[0:35:59] SM: Twin Towers was brand new. I was the first prisoner in Twin Towers.
[0:36:05] KM: Oh, okay.
[0:36:08] SM: It's scarier than anything else, because it's very futuristic. You don't see anyone. People push a button and the door opens. People push a button and the door closes.
[0:36:20] GM: Cold.
[0:36:20] SM: Food. Oh, it looks like the future of the worst place you've ever been. I do well with people. I like people, people like me, but there's no one. I have absolutely no one. They've put me in a glass cell. The guy from the Sybil Brand said, “They've got a really good place for you. They're going to put you in a glass cell, like Hannibal Lecter.” They're going to make it as hard as they possibly can. I get there, and I'm in there. On the post, there's a huge – This place is enormous. Huge thing. It says, “If Susan McDougal speaks to anyone coming or going from her cell, she is not to be allowed out again.” That was signed by the sheriff in Los Angeles County. He later testified that that came from Kenneth Starr and the OSC, because I was speaking to people. I was okay.
[0:37:26] KM: They’re like, “We keep moving her around and she keeps making friends everywhere she goes.”
[0:37:30] SM: They put me in the one place that that was not going to happen.
[0:37:35] KM: It is a sensory deprivation chamber, basically.
[0:37:37] SM: Absolutely.
[0:37:38] KM: How long did you have to stay there? How did you get out?
[0:37:42] SM: The ACLU sued Kenneth Starr. He was due to appear in court and answer for all of the moves and all of the way I was treated. He sprung me and got me to go to the Metropolitan jail downtown in Los Angeles.
[0:38:03] KM: He, being Kenneth Starr, or the ACLU?
[0:38:05] SM: He did not want to show up at that hearing, because everybody knew what had been happening to me. He did not want to sit in that chair and say, “Why was she sent there? Why did she go there? What is that about? We understand she was held in isolation.” They called me on something. Somebody came by or something. They said, “He doesn't want to answer the suit by the ACLU.” “Because you're in isolation and because you're in this deprivation cell, we're going to win this case. He doesn't want that, so he's transferring you.”
[0:38:41] KM: When we come back, we'll continue our conversation with Miss Susan McDougal, the woman that wouldn't talk during the 1994 Whitewater trial. Still to come, Jim McDougal dies in jail, Susan McDougall heads back to court and back to jail. Eventually, the truth comes out, vindication. Last, how she started over and what she's doing now. We'll be right back.
[0:39:00] ANNOUNCER: Flagandbanner.com. You know, we have a YouTube channel with over a 100 tutorials, decorating tips, interviews, lots more too. Anytime you have a question about flags, we're the experts. Flagandbanner.com and our YouTube channel. Also, on our website, you can get directed to that YouTube channel to watch the videos of previous Up in Your Business shows. We've got lots of interesting guests, just this week's, and you can rewatch and re-listen to them all at our YouTube channel for flagandbanner.com.
[0:39:27] KM: You're listening to Up in Your Business with me, Kerry McCoy. I'm speaking today with Miss Susan McDougal, defendant of the 1994 Whitewater investigation and trial and author of her book, The Woman That Wouldn't Talk. You've been in jail for a while now. You were at Sybil Brand Institute. You had to leave there, because of an earthquake. Then you get moved to Twin Towers, and you're in a sensory deprivation –
[0:39:54] SM: Glass cell.
[0:39:56] KM: Glass cell. The ACLU get you out of there before you lose your mind. You now are moved to the Metropolitan Detention Center by Kenneth Starr, who's trying to save his skin. When did you learn that Jim died in jail?
[0:40:11] SM: There. Jim died. Father Santo came to see me. He said, “I have really terrible news. Jim has died.” I thought, it was my brother. I started wailing. I kept saying, “My poor mother. I'm here. Jim is dead. The world is over.” He didn't know why I was screaming and crying so much, because everybody was mad at Jim for getting me into this in the first place.
[0:40:38] KM: Jim McDougal. Yeah. ]
[0:40:39] SM: I mean, he was persona non grata by everyone who loved me. I finally got that. It wasn’t good, because I had so hoped that one day, we could talk about this, and he could be forgiven. He could go talk to you and other people and say, “They scared me into saying those lines. They frightened me. None of it was true.” I wanted him to have that redemption, as you call it. My redemption tour. I wanted him to have that, because he needed it. I didn't really need it that much. He was dead and that was never going to happen. He was never going to be redeemed.
[0:41:21] KM: March the 6th, 1998, you get out of your civil contempt. It expired after 18 months. March the 7th, very next day, you begin a two-year Whitewater sentencing that you had been appealing for this whole time.
[0:41:32] SM: Yup, yup, yup. That's right.
[0:41:35] KM: They take you to the Oklahoma City Transfer Center, I believe, to go to Pulaski County Med, because you're going to go for a medical hearing for this lump in your breast.
[0:41:45] SM: I had a medical hearing when I was there, to see if they could continue to keep me in jail, when I wasn't doing well. When I was not well physically. I won that hearing. I got released. Yes.
[0:42:00] KM: Yes. I think this may have been when I cried in the book. Judge Howard said, “Take her out immediately.” Because they found a lump in your breast. Then they also found you had scoliosis, that was getting so bad.
[0:42:15] SM: It had really deteriorated.
[0:42:18] KM: The judge immediately releases you and sends you home for 90 days to –
[0:42:22] SM: He said, “Forthwith.” He said, “Marshalls, do you understand me? I mean, forthwith.” Man, they jumped up and got me out of those handcuffs. There I was, free as a bird.
[0:42:35] KM: You haven't been out of jail in years.
[0:42:38] SM: Years.
[0:42:39] KM: What did you think about all of that? You're out. Did you have any clothes? What did you do?
[0:42:42] SM: I went and bought clothes, looked pretty good. I've got pictures. I was pretty happy about that. I hadn’t had real clothes on in forever. I refused to wear clothes to the courtroom, because the other women didn't have them. I wasn't going to get dressed up, if I couldn't get dressed, so I was mad.
[0:43:00] KM: Now you got to go back and you got to be – you are now being tried for –
[0:43:05] SM: No, I was in jail when they charged me again. I was in jail. I had been there for a few years. Pat and Mark come in and they look liked death warmed over. They said, “Yeah, he's charged you criminal contempt. It's a criminal offense not to testify after you've been in civil contempt for so long.”
[0:43:25] KM: Everybody wanted to be on the jury. The judge had to do some jury nullification to keep, because everybody wanted to be on the jury.
[0:43:34] SM: No, no, no. We had a bunch of funny people, though. We had a lady that dressed up in a Star Trek outfit and had a name that came from Star Trek. I mean, only in Little Rock, Arkansas. Yeah, really. We had some really funny people.
[0:43:49] KM: Did she make it on the –
[0:43:51] SM: She did. She did. Yeah, it was pretty funny. Now, jury nullification is when you admit that you did what they say you did and the jury still finds you innocent. Because, am I guilty of contempt?
[0:44:10] KM: Yes.
[0:44:11] SM: Oh, yeah. I told them. I'm pretty contemptuous of this whole thing. Jury nullification is when you say, I did this thing and the jury said, “We don't care.” Yes. That was fun. They said, “I don't know that this is enough. I wish we really could do more. We are so sick of Ken Starr in Arkansas. He needs to go.” Yeah, that's pretty much what the after story was from the jury.
[0:44:47] KM: They give this part, just I don't know how you lived to this. The OIC’s lawyer, Mark Barrett, gave a vicious closing argument.
[0:44:57] SM: I had made him angry by arguing with him. Not many people do that, when they're accused of a bunch of stuff, and they want to have a nice trial and be a good girl. I had had it. I told him. I said, “You know what you're doing. You know who you are. You know what you've done. You know what you've done to me.” He was asking me questions. I said, “No, I want to talk about what you've done.” I was really just so bad. I had been in jail, people. Forgive me, but I was a little angry at this point. I just kept –
The judge admonished me. Again, the first judge said, he was going to put me in the cone of silence. They didn't have one of those in Little Rock, so he just threatened me with more jail time. Mark said, “That is not going to help her at all.”
[0:45:47] KM: Or scare her.
[0:45:48] SM: Yeah. That's not going to help you at all, really. I was telling him what I thought of the OIC. I said that, “Kenneth Starr, all of you know that you've made this up and it's not real. You've done this to me, and you answer my questions.” He was pretty angry. You can imagine. Most people don't try to make the prosecutor hate them. He did. He was vicious. It was horrible. Terrible.
[0:46:13] KM: Mark gets his chance to get up. He gets up and does a superb job. He brings in his witness. He calls witnesses from the first jury trial. The first Whitewater one and says –
[0:46:25] SM: You know this about them? He not only did that. The really fun part of that and what would make a great movie is he gets prison people from every jail and place I've been. Not prison jail people, detention people from everywhere. Puts them on the stand and says, “Tell us about Susan McDougal. She's here for contempt of court. Is that how you experienced Susan McDougal?” They said, “No. We saw her pray with the women there. She took a vote to see what TV program we should all watch, so that there was no fighting. When Susan McDougal was there, there was no fighting, there were just voting and dancing.”
I mean, I sat there in the courtroom going, “This is the coolest thing ever.” Because I had been in these places with people who were hurting, and who were not helped and who needed a break. It changed my life forever. Then I had people get up and document what they saw and how they saw it and what happened.
[0:47:36] KM: And how you changed their life.
[0:47:37] SM: It was just the great – These are the guards. These are not the women. These are the people watching us in there.
[0:47:46] KM: What happened? What happened to that trial?
[0:47:49] SM: I was let go. I was out.
[0:47:51] KM: You just walk out?
[0:47:52] SM: I walked out. Had a party.
[0:47:53] KM: Never went back to jail again.
[0:47:55] SM: Never went – No. Never went back to jail. Not accused of anything. I don't think I have a parking ticket. I’m good.
[0:48:02] KM: You are listening to Up in Your Business with me, Kerry McCoy. I'm speaking today with Miss Susan McDougal, defendant in the 1994 Whitewater investigation trial and author of her book, The Woman That Wouldn't Talk.
Finally, vindication. After six years, you are free. I love this quote. You said, “We took on the most powerful prosecution in the country, an organization with unlimited budget and incredible resources and beat them.” It's President Clinton's last day in office, you are watching TV and what happens?
[0:48:33] SM: All of a sudden, a news announcer says, “Word of pardons has come in.” I have not applied for a pardon, because I don't want to be pardoned. I'm mad about it. I want to keep it as a sign of my struggle. I have not applied. The person says, “Great news. So and so has been pardoned. So and so has been pardoned.” The very last thing, after a bunch of people they say, “And Susan McDougal has been pardoned.” We just go crazy. We’re just going crazy.
The doorbell rings. It's the world. It's every news station. The parabolic discs are back. Everybody's there. It was unbelievable. It was just such a celebration. We hadn't asked for it and we got it. I was asked to give speeches all over America, to law groups and to have a people who were advocating for people in jail. I got to raise money for women who were in jail. I mean, after I left jail was the best time of my life, to be loved and cared for and people been kind to me. It was amazing.
[0:49:46] KM: You came back to Arkansas.
[0:49:48] SM: My mom and dad were sick. My dad. My mom had a heart attack and my dad had had a stroke. I had a lot of guilt. I felt like it was because of me. I felt like, they were sick because of what had happened. It wasn't fair to them. I mean, they really hadn't asked for it, have they? I just said, I'm going home. I'm going to take care of them. I said, this is how I’ll live my life right now. This is it. I want to give this time to them, and I want to be with them. I was with them till they died.
One of the great things that I got asked to do during that time was to speak to an international group of chaplains, which was the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy. They are an accrediting body for chaplains around the world. Huge organization. I would just speak to them. They asked me about my time in jail and what that was like. I got to talk about the inequities of poor people and people who don't have a voice and people who can't afford a lawyer and what happens to them as opposed to people who have help, like I did, and families that support you.
They, at the end of it, someone from UAMS, which I've never met, walked over to me, and he said, “What do you plan to do with your life?” I said, “Well, I'd like to raise money for women in jail. I'd like to do some jail work with women and help them out.” He said, “Well, do you know what you're doing?” I said, “No.” He said, “We can help you with that.” He said, “Why don't you come and train to be a chaplain and you'll know exactly what to do to help people.” I said, “I'm in.” I came and I studied at UAMS. I decided that that was what I wanted to do, because it was a lot like what I had been doing with the women in jail.
[0:51:39] KM: Are you a chaplain at UAMS, or are you a chaplain for jail?
[0:51:42] SM: No, I was a chaplain at UAMS for a long time. I still did some jail things. I now am the head of the department.
[0:51:52] KM: Whoa. Go Susan.
[0:51:54] SM: I train chaplains now.
[0:51:56] KM: You train chaplains.
[0:51:58] SM: They are the best people in the world. I have a job where really nice people who don't care about making any money, because they don't. Come to UAMS to learn how to love people. I get to train them how to do that. It is the best job ever in the entire world.
[0:52:17] KM: Can't get any better than that. Thank you so much for coming to join me. I have a gift for you.
[0:52:22] SM: Well, thank you for asking me. You're awfully nice. You've been so supportive of me through this long journey of a very crazy life. Thank you a lot.
[0:52:31] KM: You're welcome. Everybody needs to read your book.
[0:52:33] GM: Absolutely.
[0:52:34] KM: The Woman That Wouldn't Talk. It's available on amazon.com. Look, I've got you a desk set.
[0:52:40] SM: Is that my jail trip? You are so bad. You are such a bad woman.
[0:52:46] KM: You guessed it.
[0:52:47] SM: How can I not know? I was in jail there. I'm looking at these flags.
[0:52:51] KM: Well, one of them is in Mexico.
[0:52:52] SM: She has a stand of flags that represents every jail I was in. I want you people to know how a sense of humor.
[0:52:59] GM: Yup. Glad that you say that.
[0:53:01] KM: Susan, I’m so impressed that you recognized it right off the bat.
[0:53:05] SM: Absolutely love it. It gives me a chance to talk about it. That's a promise I made, that I would be their voice.
[0:53:13] KM: That's good.
[0:53:13] SM: Thanks so much.
[0:53:14] KM: You're welcome, Susan. In closing, to our listeners, thank you for spending time with us. We hope you've heard, or learned something that's been inspiring or enlightening, and that whatever it is, will help you up your business, your independence, or your life. I'm Kerry McCoy and I'll see you next time on Up in Your Business.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
[0:53:30] GM: You’ve been listening to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy. For links to resources you heard discussed on today's show, go to flagandbanner.com, select radio and choose today's guest. If you'd like to sponsor this show or any show, email me, Gray. That's G-R-A-Y@flagandbanner.com. Stay informed of exciting upcoming guests by subscribing to our YouTube channel, or podcast wherever you like to listen. Kerry's goal is simple, to help you live the American dream.