Witness Says Bank Record Would Have Shown Clinton Withdrawal
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) _ Defendants in the second Whitewater trial began trying to discredit the former president of their bank after he started cooperating with an investigation of their activities, prosecutors alleged today.
An outside auditor hired by the defendants, Herby Branscum Jr. and Robert M. Hill, produced a report alleging possible criminal misconduct by Neal T. Ainley. He is a former president of Perry County Bank and the government’s chief witness at Branscum and Hill’s federal court trial.
Prosecutors introduced a criminal referral that the bank sent to federal regulators and accused the two bankers of implicating Ainley in wrongdoing to save themselves.
``They commissioned a person to go out and smear Mr. Ainley,″ Whitewater prosecutor Jackie Bennett told U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright with the jury out of the room.
Prosecutors planned to use the report to help establish the defendants’ consciousness of guilt. The judge said the defense also could use the report to attack Ainley’s credibility.
Prosecutors disclosed the criminal referral report during questioning of a bank employee about his testimony that he documented for the Internal Revenue Service a large cash withdrawal by Bill Clinton’s 1990 gubernatorial campaign.
With Buford M. Satterfield’s testimony, prosecutors also tried to establish that Branscum and Hill knew of the policy that requires reporting cash withdrawals of more than $10,000 to the IRS.
Prosecutors used Satterfield, the bank’s vice president, to begin building their case that the bank’s former president and chief government witness, Neil Ainley, intercepted the IRS document from the outgoing mail at his bosses’ direction.
The prosecution’s opening statement said Branscum and Hill conspired to conceal the withdrawal so they could ingratiate themselves to Clinton, who kept his campaign account at the bank and took out large campaign loans.
Ainley is expected to tell the U.S. District Court jury that he intercepted the form at Hill’s request.
Satterfield was to return to the stand today when the trial resumes.
Satterfield testified that Clinton’s 1990 campaign treasurer, Bruce Lindsey, who now is a top White House aide, arranged for a $22,500 cash withdrawl on the eve of the November 1990 election.
According to a bank document, Lindsey had telephoned Ainley to arrange the withdrawal. Satterfield testified he informed Ainley that an IRS ``currency transaction report″ would have to be filed.
``He (Ainley) gave a sort of brief expression of suprise but agreed,″ Satterfield said.
He identified bank board minutes that recorded how the board set up a special compliance committee responsible for, among other things, ensuring that the currency reports were properly filed. As board members, Branscum and Hill approved forming the committee and putting Satterfield in charge of it.
Before Satterfield took the stand, another Perry County Bank official, Joe Carter, testified that a record kept at the bank would have shown examiners that Clinton’s campaign withdrew $30,000 in May 1990 _ just before the gubernatorial primary. This was a separate but similar transaction to the November withdrawal.
Carter identified for the jury a ``cash-out ticket,″ showing the amount withdrawn and bearing the written notation ``Gov. Clinton.″
``Would it be very clear in the records that the Clinton campaign would have withdrawn $30,000 in cash?″ asked Dan Guthrie, attorney for Branscum.
``Yes,″ replied Carter, senior vice president of Perry County Bank, where Clinton kept his 1990 campaign account and received $180,000 in loans to finance the campaign.
The withdrawal is a key part of the case because prosecutors in the trial of Branscum and Hill allege that Lindsey, one of Clinton’s closest White House aides, was part of a conspiracy to hide the May withdrawal from the IRS. Guthrie said he was notified before the trial that prosecutors will name Lindsey an unindicted co-conspirator in the case.
Outside court Monday, Guthrie acknowledged Branscum spoke with Lindsey about the Clinton campaign account prior to the May withdrawal.
``He has a vague recollection that he received a phone call asking who he should talk to at the bank, and he directed him to Neal Ainley,″ Guthrie said. ``There was never any discussion about CTRs and he doesn’t recall anything dealing with cash withdrawals.″
Lindsey and the two bankers have denied trying to conceal the transaction from the IRS. Lindsey, the treasurer for the 1990 gubernatorial campaign, said he withdrew the money in four $7,500 increments to hide the transaction from Clinton’s political opponent. He said the money was for last-minute get-out-the-vote efforts.