A L S O +T O D A Y
T A B L E+T A L K
Newt resigns! Mull over the soon-to-be-former speaker's decision in the Headlines area of Table Talk
R E C E N T L Y
The whaling that wasn't
Paula Jones lawsuit settled
Beware of the black CON-servative
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BY MURRAY WAAS
Milas Hale has told confidants that he had no firsthand knowledge about whether David's allegations regarding Clinton were true, and that he would be lying to the federal authorities if he corroborated his brother's story, as he had been asked to do. Milas Hale ultimately refused to lie on his brother's behalf, sources say.
This account of David Hale's attempted subornation of perjury by his brother was provided to Salon by three people close to Milas Hale. Significant portions of those accounts have been independently corroborated by other sources and documents as well. Milas Hale himself declined to comment for this story, however.
The three sources who have confirmed the story for Salon declined to be identified because of their friendships with the Hale family, and also because of concerns that being named would lead to questioning by the Whitewater independent counsel. They say they have never been questioned by the independent counsel or any other federal law enforcement authorities.
Since March 1994, David Hale has been the central witness against Clinton in Starr's Whitewater investigation. Hale alleged that in 1986 then-Arkansas Gov. Clinton had pressured him to make a fraudulent and illegal $300,000 loan to Susan McDougal, the Clintons' partner in their failed Whitewater real-estate investment.
Informed of Salon's new information, a federal law enforcement official who had worked for Starr commented: "If it turns out that David Hale had indeed attempted to suborn perjury from another potential witness to our investigation, that not only raises the most troubling questions about him as our witness ... It also raises the most basic and fundamental questions about our own investigation.
"Someone should be made to answer as to how this could have come to pass as long as five years ago and we did not know a thing about it ... After all, we're talking about the attempted subornation of perjury regarding allegations of criminality about the president of the United States of America."
During the time that David Hale is said to have asked his brother to lie for him, the Justice Department was on the verge of bringing criminal charges against David Hale for having defrauded the Small Business Administration of more than $3.2 million through a federally subsidized loan company that he then headed. In an attempt to escape criminal charges and a lengthy prison sentence, Hale offered information to prosecutors about alleged illegal conduct by Clinton and other Arkansas political figures.
It would have been extraordinarily significant to the Whitewater probe if Hale had been successful in recruiting his brother to falsely corroborate his story regarding Clinton. That is because Hale has not been able to produce for prosecutors any evidence other than his own word that his story about Clinton was true.
In the five years since Hale first leveled his charges against Clinton, Starr's investigators have failed to uncover anything significant that might corroborate Hale's account. As a result, Starr's impeachment referral to the House of Representatives this summer was devoted entirely to the Monica Lewinsky affair and contained no material at all about Whitewater.
In recent days, Starr has signaled that he is not yet giving up on his Whitewater investigation. Friday, Starr's office returned a 15-count indictment against Webster Hubbell, a former associate attorney general and close friend of President Clinton and the first lady. The new criminal charges allege that Hubbell, a former law partner of Hillary Rodham Clinton at the Rose Law Firm, engaged in perjury and obstruction of justice to conceal information about the first lady's legal work on behalf of the Clinton's Whitewater partner, Jim McDougal.
Meanwhile, a number of serious questions have arisen regarding Hale's credibility as Starr's central witness against the president. Most importantly until now, a federal grand jury began hearing testimony in August regarding allegations that conservative political activists had made numerous cash payments, paid legal fees and provided other gratuities to Hale in a possible attempt to influence his testimony as a Whitewater witness.
But the new information that David Hale attempted to influence his brother to give false information to federal investigators raises perhaps the most serious questions to date about his credibility as a witness against the president.
"If it could be shown that a cooperating witness to a federal investigation attempted to recruit someone else to falsely corroborate their testimony, that would be severely damaging to that witness' credibility," says John Q. Barrett, a former federal prosecutor who is now a professor at St. John's law school. "Any ethical prosecutor would want to be aware of the baggage that their witness is carrying before they rely on that witness to testify for the government and send people to jail."
N E X T+P A G E+| Questions about Starr's fairness and thoroughness
ILLUSTRATION BY CHARLIE POWELL