Reaction Swift from Critics Regarding the Whitewater Probe Closure

By Bob Melvin | July 7, 2008 | 8:26 PM EDT

( - Reaction was swift from critics of the Whitewater probe and Wednesday's announcement by Independent Council Robert Ray that the six-year investigation was over with no indictments against the politically powerful in high office.

Whitewater business partner Susan McDougal, who was convicted and imprisoned during the investigation, said, "After they've gathered all of the evidence, all the documents they said they couldn't find, all the testimony they said they didn't have, I answered every question at my trial (and) they still cannot come back as men and say there is no guilt here."

McDougal's lawyer, Mark Geragos, stated that, "Susan spent about 21 months in prison for absolute, complete nonsense these people (prosecutors) concocted. She told them there was nothing there. A dirty little secret of the criminal justice system is somebody's life can be trashed, and you come back years later and issue a press release saying, 'oops, sorry.' They didn't even say oops, sorry. They're sore losers."

Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle said the probe proved to be a waste of time and money.

"I'm disappointed that after all these years and all the trials and tribulation and the pain and suffering ... it's taken this long to find out that nothing was ever done wrongly," Daschle said late Wednesday.

Arkansas banker Herby Branscum was charged, then acquitted in the probe. He said, "I don't think these people who worked for Kenneth Starr know what fairness is about. I wasn't treated fairly, and I don't think anyone else who had to deal with those people were treated fairly."

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, concurred with Daschle that the Whitewater probe proved to be a waste of time and money.

"On the scale of justice, this report is several years late and millions of dollars overweight. No other prosecutor in the country would have spent six years on a wild goose chase like this."

The Whitewater probe began in 1994 and proved to be the most expensive independent counsel investigation in American history, costing the United States $52 million.

In a six-page statement released quietly on Wednesday, Ray, who took no questions, said the inquiry had resulted in "insufficient evidence" to warrant any indictment of Bill and Hillary Clinton for criminal wrongdoing during a failed real estate venture in Arkansas during the mid-1980s.

Ray said he could not "prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that either (the) president or Mrs Clinton knowingly participated in any criminal conduct, including perjury or obstruction of justice."

The president and first lady Wednesday greeted the news with cheers among their supporters at the White House and at the Hillary 2000 senate campaign office in New York.