Hillary Clinton relentlessly browbeat her clinically depressed former law partner Vince Foster shortly before he committed suicide in 1993, according to notes from a final jailhouse interview with a former close business partner of the Clintons.
Jim McDougal, a long-time member of the Clintons’ Arkansas inner circle and a central figure in the Whitewater scandal, passed away from a heart attack in prison in 1998. But he said in a final interview before his death that Hillary Clinton had a "hard, difficult personality" and was "riding [Vince Foster] every minute" about Whitewater before Foster took his own life.
Recent Stories in Issues
McDougal also described his ex-friend Bill as a "master con artist" who married Hillary after a "cold-blooded search" to find himself a politically beneficial wife. Bill, according to McDougal, also privately wanted to prevent Hillary from succeeding in her own political career.
McDougal, who was convicted of fraud in 1996 in connection to the controversial real estate partnership with the Clintons, sat for a number of jailhouse interviews with former Boston Globe reporter Curtis Wilkie before his death. Many of his statements were reported in his posthumous 1998 book with Wilkie, Arkansas Mischief: The Birth of a National Scandal.
But some of the interviews, housed at the University of Mississippi’s special collection library, were not included in the book and have not been previously reported. They include McDougal’s personal observations of the Clintons’ relationships and their close confidantes during some of the major White House scandals of the 1990s.
At the time of the conversations, McDougal was cooperating with prosecutors investigating the Clintons’ involvement in the Whitewater deal.
"When I saw Vince Foster to put Clintons out of Whitewater, he was clearly depressed, a clinical thing. He was star[t]ing conversation talking about aging, eyesight going, asked me to sign something," said McDougal, according to Wilkie’s transcript.
"Then Vince Foster committed suicide," continued McDougal. "He had so much of their shit on his head and Hillary was riding him every minute."
Foster, one of Hillary Clinton’s closest friends and advisers, was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a Virginia park in 1993. Friends said the White House attorney had been deeply depressed in the weeks leading up to his suicide, and had been struggling to shield the Clintons from legal fallout from the Whitewater controversy.
McDougal’s comments support a Daily Mail report last week on the FBI’s 1993 investigation into Foster’s death. Federal investigators reportedly concluded that Hillary Clinton "triggered" Foster’s decision to take his own life after she publicly humiliated him during a White House meeting.
"Foster was profoundly depressed, but Hillary lambasting him was the final straw because she publicly embarrassed him in front of others," Jim Clemente, a senior FBI investigator on the probe, told investigative reporter Ron Kessler.
After Foster’s death, files related to the Clintons’ investments were allegedly removed from his White House office. Although conspiracy theories have been floated for years that Foster was murdered, FBI investigators determined conclusively that it was a suicide.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump revived these theories during a recent interview with the Washington Post.
"[Foster] knew everything that was going on, and then all of a sudden he committed suicide," said Trump. "I will say there are people who continue to bring it up because they think it was absolutely a murder."
McDougal, an Arkansas Democratic operative and banker, befriended Bill Clinton in 1968 and remained close with Bill and Hillary until after the Whitewater scandal erupted in the early 1990s. His ex-wife, Susan McDougal, was convicted of contempt of court in 1996 for refusing to answer questions about the Clintons and Whitewater in front of a grand jury. She received a full presidential pardon from Bill right before he left office.
In the interviews with Wilkie, McDougal claimed Bill embarked on a "cold-blooded search" in the 1970s to find a wife who could help him politically—and decided on Hillary.
The future 42nd president was a "master con artist" who "prepped for this with girls and school teachers," he added.
"I think it was a cold-blooded search by both of them [Bill Clinton and former Arkansas Governor Jim Guy Tucker] to find political wives," said McDougal. "Important who to choose, still hungover from the 60s and both looking for good credentials to back them up."
"Hillary had credentials to clean up after Bill, he thought she’d keep him organized," he said. "The truth is that [Bill’s former aide] Betsey Wright was the one who got him organized for his comeback."
McDougal also described Hillary as "generally a pain in the ass" and "very difficult for everyone, including Bill." He said Bill seemed to privately enjoy the Whitewater scandal because it was damaging to Hillary’s future political career.
"She had a hard, difficult personality and it got truly released," said McDougal. "When Bill got to be his own man again, I could see it starts up agains [sic]."
"I think Bill may actually like Whitewater case becasue it makes certain it denies Hillary a position of honor and power in country [sic]," he added.
McDougal also weighed in on other members of the Clintons’ inner circle. He said he was surprised by the midlife-crisis escapades of Jim Blair, the Arkansas attorney at the center of the Clintons’ "Cattlegate" scandal.
"I remember a New Yars’ [sic] party at [Jim Blair’s] house in Fayetteville, he’s about to marry Diane Kincade, and he’s having a midlife change. He dressed in blue crushed velvet suit, and Susan [McDougal] goes into his bedroom to use the bathroom and she says, youve [sic] got to go look at this. Its a big mirror, over the bed, a plastic, like the kind youre [sic] order from a sex catalogue [sic]."
McDougal also speculated that long-time Clinton hand Bruce Lindsey suffered from brain damage.
"Bruce Lindsey? He was around the campaign in ‘74, with Fulbright. Not a buddy. Only perception I had of him is that he’s very slow. He has that metallic sound in voice that a clinical psychologist will tell you is indicative of brain damage," said McDougal.
At the time of McDougal’s death he was still cooperating with federal prosecutors on their investigation of the Clintons’ involvement with the Whitewater real estate venture. The Clintons were never charged.
The controversy stemmed from the 1970s, when McDougal and his wife partnered with the Clintons to purchase a large tract of land in the Arkansas Ozarks. The unsuccessful investment became a national scandal decades later, after the New York Times reported on evidence of impropriety related to the deal.
A central question in the case was whether Bill Clinton used his political influence to help obtain a fraudulent federal loan for the McDougals. There were also accusations of kickbacks related to Hillary Clinton’s alleged legal work on behalf of the McDougals’ bank, Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan.
McDougal gave a candid, first-hand account of the controversy in his book Arkansas Mischief, written with Wilkie. He argued that the Clintons knowingly broke the law in Whitewater and other deals, repeatedly lied under oath, and accepted bribes while in Arkansas. He also claimed Bill and his ex-wife, Susan, had a long-standing affair that began during their marriage.
Even after McDougal started serving his three and a half year prison sentence in 1997, he maintained a sense of humor about Whitewater.
He joked in the press before going to prison that it was co-ed, and said he "might run into Hillary."
"All the inmates loved that, ask when’s Hillary coming," said McDougal.
After McDougal’s death from a heart condition, his friend and fellow prisoner Darren Wesley Williams wrote to the editor of the now-defunct George magazine. The letter was also included in the Wilkie archive.
"I liked Jim, he made me laugh," wrote Williams in the March 12, 1998 letter, which also claimed the prison guards’ were negligent when it came to giving McDougal his medication. "He was one of the few patrons that openly proclaimed his guilt."
"In the T.V. room he’d have his arm slung over another chair," Williams added. "If someone came up and asked to sit there he’d say, ‘no, I’m saving this for Bill.’"