Indonesia-Lippo-Riady-Huang-Hub-bellgate. Taiwangate. Koreagate (II). Buddhist-Temple-Goregate. Filegate. Travelgate. Paulagate. Cisnerosgate Espygate.
Where to begin?
Some speculations: The man to watch will be Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, who is still trying to build a case against the president or the first lady or both. The probability that Stair will accuse one or both of crimes seems below 50-50 at this point-but not by much. And there may be less noise than expected on the congressional front, given Republicans' fears of exposing their own dirty campaign finance laundry.
While a whole new criminal investigation may well find grist in the rivers of cash flowing from the Far East into Democratic campaign coffers-via Clinton cronies who freauented the White House-the greatest threat to the president is the same old scandal that many write off as too complicated to interest (or entertain) the public: Whitewater.
The central questions on which Starr's team of prosecutors seems to be focusing are whether either or both of the Clintons engaged in a criminal conspiracy with their now convicted former business partners, James and Susan McDougal, to avert bankruptcy for their Whitewater Development Corp. by keeping the McDougals' foundering Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan afloat during the mid-1980s, and to obtain money by fraud from David Hale's Capital Management Services Inc.; and whether either or both of the Clintons have engaged ever since then in cover-up activities-both in Arkansas and in the White House-including destroying and secreting evidence, obstructing justice, and perjury.
The main reason to doubt that the cautious Starr will pull the trigger is that he does not (yet) appear to have any very credible witnesses-let alone a smoking gun like the Nixon tapes-to document his evident suspicions that one or both Clintons may have crossed the line into criminality. And the Suspected crimes look relatively petty next to the crimes of Watergate.
The reason why Starr apparently has not ruled out seeking indictment of the first lady, or even impeachment of the president, is the cumulative weight of the evidence suggesting high-level cover-up activity on multiple fronts.
Meanwhile, Starr has obtained James McDougal's cooperation and is seeking that of the jailed but so-far-defiant Susan McDougal and others. The others include ailing, convicted former Gov. Jim Guy Tucker and perhaps convicted Clinton crony Webster Hubbell-who may know more than he's disclosed so far about some things, including Hillary Rodham Clinton's legal work involving Hubbell's father-in-law, Seth Ward, on the McDougals' corrupt Castle Grande real estate deal; and a reported $250,000 in fees paid to Hubbell by the Clinton-connected Riady family's Lippo Group after Hubbell was driven in disgrace from his job as the president's associate attorney general.
The president has dismissed the Starr investigation as an "obvious" political vendetta that has failed to turn up "a single solitary shred" of evidence incriminating him or his wife-while refusing to rule out pardoning the McDougals and other potential witnesses against him.
Among the outstanding questions:
• Did then Gov. Clinton have guilty knowledge of the clearly fraudulent $300,000 federally subsidized loan that...