Presidential friend Webster Hubbell is facing new charges that he evaded income taxes, while his recorded conversations from an earlier prison term are likely to cause new concern at the White House.
Whitewater prosecutors, who won a plea agreement from the former associate attorney general in late 1994 that landed Hubbell in prison, struck again Thursday.They charged Hubbell, his wife and two associates with conspiring to avoid taxes on hundreds of thousands of dollars paid to Hubbell from President Clinton's supporters. Prosecutors want to know if this was "hush money" to keep Hubbell from providing them with information harmful to the president and his wife, Hillary.
"My wife and I are innocent," a solemn Hubbell said outside his Washington home with his wife, Suzy, at his side. "The office of independent counsel could indict my dog. They can indict my cat. But I'm not going to lie about the president. I'm not going to lie about the first lady or anyone else."
Within hours of his indictment, The Associated Press obtained transcripts of recorded prison conversations in which Hubbell and his wife worried that his actions might expose Hillary Clinton to further investigation - and cost them White House support.
He also told his chief White House contact, presidential aide Marsha Scott, that "there are issues that I have to stay away from to protect others, and I will. Have I ever been disloyal?"
"No," Scott responded.
The 10-count grand jury indictment charged Hubbell with evading taxes on income he received from Clinton friends and political supporters who sought to assist him after he resigned as associate attorney general. "By late 1997, the taxes, interest and penalties for 1989-1992, 1994 and 1995 exceeded $894,000," the indictment said.
Hubbell, who then was first coming under criminal investigation, "performed little or no work" for the consulting fees he received in 1994, prosecutors for Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr alleged in the indictment.
Among the fees Hubbell received was $100,000 from the Riady family of Indonesia. Former White House chief of staff Mack McLarty, current chief of staff Erskine Bowles and ex-Commerce Secretary Mickey Kantor have all acknowledged trying to help Hubbell find work.
Prosecutors' suspicion about those fees, along with their frustration over Hubbell's memory lapses after he agreed to cooperate, reportedly led to the new investigation.