MORRIS: Tucker, not Lewinsky, may doom Clinton

Maher, Steve (SD-MS) SMAHER at GI.COM
Wed Feb 25 14:19:00 MST 1998


>From CAS list

T h e  H i l l
February 25, 1998

the political life

Tucker, not Lewinsky, may doom Clinton

By Dick Morris

The Monica Lewinsky sex scandal may be the ultimate decoy. While
Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr has every reporter watching the birdie
outside the federal courthouse in Washington D.C., none of the
journalists noticed that Starr has been commuting back and forth to
Little Rock, Ark., apparently arranging the Jim Guy Tucker plea bargain.

While the press scrutinizes Lewinsky's every move, films her Mom
breaking down after testifying and flies into town when Lewinsky's
attorney William Ginsburg announces a shopping trip on Connecticut
Avenue, Starr may have walked off with the cookie jar in Little Rock.

Barbara Walters may be interviewing Monica's dad. CNN may be riveted on
Baghdad, but the real action has been in Little Rock. Starr might have
scored the coup de grace by getting Tucker to flip and testify against
the Clintons.

Tucker's switch is big. Very big. No more waiting outside the jail house
door for Susan MacDougal, former Arkansas Gov. Tucker has most likely
dumped everything Susan knows right in Starr's lap. Whatever information
it is that Starr seeks that has induced him to keep MacDougal in jail to
force her to tell, Tucker knows all about.

This plea deal did not spring up suddenly on a Friday afternoon at 3
p.m. Accused of leaks all month, Starr apparently can keep a secret when
he wants to. Plea deals like this one don't happen in half an hour over
a tuna fish sandwich and a cup of coffee. Remember that Starr was burned
once when he agreed to a premature and half-baked plea bargain with Webb
Hubbell. As soon as Hubbell pled guilty, he clammed up and Starr was
left holding an empty bag. Now it seems Starr has finally learned how to
prosecute. He likely tied down every loose flap in Tucker's testimony
before granting the newly healthy ex-governor a reprieve. If Bill
Clinton arranged or participated in the Hale loan ...

If Clinton knew the money would be funneled to Whitewater ...

If Clinton was tipped off early to Vince Foster's death through a call
to the Arkansas Governor's Mansion ...

If Hubbell's father-in-law was a straw man in the Casa Grande deal and
the Clintons arranged it ...

If Clinton or Bruce Lindsay tipped Tucker off to the impending
Resolution Trust Company investigation during his visit to the White
House ...

If these charges are true ... Tucker would know. And if he knows, he's
talking, otherwise why would Starr plea bargain when he already has a
conviction from Tucker's earlier trial?

Tucker is no lifelong friend of Clinton's. Lifelong enemy is more like
it. When Tucker first ran for the Senate in 1978, Clinton worked
overtime to bar his way. In 1982, Tucker tried to bar Clinton's way back
into the Governor's Mansion and lost in a scorched-earth primary fight.

In the MacDougal-Tucker trial of 1996, Jim and Susan and Jim Guy stood
shoulder-to-shoulder with Clinton in denying he was involved. Once there
were three. Then Jim MacDougal flipped and there were two. Now there is
one.

In the 1996 trial, Tucker's potentially terminal liver condition stopped
the judge from imposing jail time. But when the judge in this second
trial - on three additional counts - ruled that Tucker was fit to stand
trial after his liver transplant, the handwriting was on the wall.
Tucker likely realized that a conviction this time would mean jail. No
more kidding around.

Likely for weeks, if not months, Tucker has been debriefed by Starr's
people. Jackie Bennett, Starr's sharpshooter, only resurfaced last week
to question Lindsay in Washington. He likely wasn't on vacation fishing
in the Ozarks in the interim. You can bet he was in Arkansas taking
notes while Tucker was spilling his guts.

Now all those who say Clinton is guilty have to put up or shut up. The
ultimate witness has switched sides.

I have no inside information. All I know is what is in the public
record. But it is clear that there is no way that the FBI files scandal
really threatens the president. Nor the Travel Office firings. Nor the
campaign finance scandal. But the Tucker plea deal may constitute a
deadly threat to the Clinton presidency.

The media asks if Clinton was diverting attention from Lewinsky to Iraq.
But it was Starr who was diverting attention from Tucker to Lewinsky.
The media feeding frenzy is clustered around the wrong patch of blood in
the water. Forget about the birdie. Look to Little Rock. That's the
epicenter of the earthquake.



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