Final Report Shows Clintons Benefited From Criminal Transactions

The final report from the independent counsel's office says Bill and Hillary Clinton benefited from criminal transactions relating to the Whitewater land deal, but there was not enough evidence to show the former president and first lady participated in any illegal activities.

The five-volume report released Wednesday says Whitewater partner Jim McDougal wrongly used funds from Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan, which he and wife Susan operated, to benefit the Arkansas land venture he created with then-governor Bill Clinton and then-lawyer Hillary Rodham Clinton.

"There is some evidence that Governor Clinton knew or should have known that Jim McDougal was not conducting Madison Guaranty's affairs as required by banking rules," the report, penned by Independent Counsel Robert Ray, said.

"Insufficient evidence exists to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that either Governor or Mrs. Clinton knowingly participated in the criminal financial transactions used by McDougal to benefit Whitewater," it said.

Part of the investigation focused on a fraudulent $300,000 federally-backed loan that a Little Rock judge claimed he was pressured by Clinton to make to the McDougals, who operated the failed S&L.

"Insufficient evidence also exists to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Governor Clinton knew of or approved" the loan, Ray's report said.

The McDougals were convicted of crimes and imprisoned in the Whitewater investigation in connection with the failed S&L they operated.

The report related an incident in which the Arkansas banking commissioner told Clinton in 1983 that there were problems at Madison. The report said Clinton told the commissioner to do whatever was necessary and not to worry about politics.

The report wraps up a six-year investigation of the Clinton finances that led the independent counsel into President Clinton's sexual activity, depositions, and eventual impeachment.

Ray, who resigned as independent counsel on March 12 and is considering a run for the Senate to represent New Jersey, wrote in a report released earlier this month that Clinton could have been successfully prosecuted for perjury and obstruction of justice for a false deposition he gave in the Paula Jones sexual harassment suit.

On his last full day in office, Clinton made a deal with Ray to avoid a criminal indictment by admitting that he "knowingly gave evasive and misleading answers" about his sexual relationship with intern Monica Lewinsky. Clinton also surrendered his law license for five years.

The report released Wednesday also implicates Mrs. Clinton for her legal work on an Arkansas land development called Castle Grande that was being operated by Jim McDougal and partly financed by his failed S&L.

Mrs. Clinton, who is now a senator representing New York, worked on the project as a member of the Rose Law firm. The inspector general's office of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. concluded that Mrs. Clinton helped draft a legal document on Castle Grande, which was later used by the S&L to mislead federal bank examiners.

Mrs. Clinton's work on the document was revealed in law firm billing records that mysteriously turned up in the White House residence in 1996, more than a year after they had been subpoenaed. Mrs. Clinton denied knowing how the records showed up there and prosecutors could not turn up enough evidence to make the case that she had obstructed justice by hiding the records.

"The evidence gathered could not exclude the possibility that Mrs. Clinton put the billing records in Room 319A," the report said.

Whitewater came to light during the 1992 presidential campaign when The New York Times revealed that the Clintons had been business partners in a real estate deal with the McDougals, whose S&L's collapse cost taxpayers more than $65 million.

The Clintons said they lost money in the Whitewater venture.

Several Clinton business partners were dragged into the investigation. Mrs. Clinton's law firm partner former Associate Attorney General Webster Hubbell pleaded guilty to a felony for his work on the documents. Former Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker was convicted of fraud in connection with various loans.

Jim McDougal, who died in prison, reduced his prison sentence for fraud by cooperating with prosecutors. Susan McDougal refused to implicate the Clintons and was imprisoned for contempt of court.

Clinton pardoned her just before he left office in January 2001 as well as three others, a Whitewater real estate agent, a university professor who had received a federally backed loan and a former appraiser at Madison Guaranty.

Tucker and Hubbell didn't get pardons.

A succession of prosecutors looked into the Clintons' role — first Robert Fiske, then Kenneth Starr and finally Ray. The $70 million investigation that began in 1994 sharply divided the country and created political war between congressional Democrats and Republicans who sparred over the merits of the case.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.