Indicting Whitewater figure Susan McDougal a second time, prosecutors are signaling that the Arkansas phase of their probe is wrapping up even though there still are unanswered questions about a check she wrote marked "Payoff Clinton."
Prosecutors said evidence gathered here, which includes information about Hillary Rodham Clinton's billing records, could easily be taken up by a grand jury in Washington.McDougal, who was a business partner of the Clintons in their 1980s Arkansas land dealings, was charged Monday with three felonies for refusing to tell a grand jury what she knows about the first family's business activities, including a previously undisclosed check she marked with the words "Payoff Clinton."
The indictment was handed down by a grand jury here that this week finishes two years of Whitewater-related investigation.
Whatever decisions remain will "now be moved up to Washington," where prosecutors are looking into the Monica Lewinsky matter and allegations of obstruction of justice, according to Charles Bakaly, a spokesman for Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr.
"One option certainly is that certain evidence gathered by this grand jury could be made available to another grand jury that would also have venue over potential crimes," Bakaly explained.
McDougal's attorney, Mark Geragos, said Tuesday his client remained in good spirits and that the indictment likely would harden her resolve not to be "bullied" by Starr.
"I think that this has probably increased her resolve. She feels like this has shown that this guy is totally out of control," Geragos said on NBC's "Today" show. "She's not going to be bullied by this guy."
Geragos reiterated that he would subpoena Starr and his top deputy as witnesses at McDougal's trial.
"They're going to be a central focus of her reason for not testifying," Geragos said. "That's going to be the justification, if you will, for her failure to comply with the subpoena."
Whitewater prosecutors in Little Rock were not expected to take any action against Hillary Clinton before the grand jury expires Thursday, leaving such decisions until later in the investigation, sources familiar with the investigation said.
McDougal, 43, was charged with two counts of criminal contempt for refusing to answer grand jury questions in September 1996 and again last month, and one count of obstruction of justice.
The criminal contempt citations are punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and an open-ended prison term set by a federal judge. Obstruction of justice carries a maximum 10-year prison term with a $250,000 fine.
She already has been convicted by a jury on fraud charges related to the failed savings and loan at the center of the original Whitewater investigation. She also just finished serving an 18-month term for civil contempt of the grand jury.