Trying to persuade Susan McDougal to talk, Kenneth Starr's office offered to let someone else decide whether she committed perjury, a former Starr prosecutor testified Monday.
Ray Jahn said Starr's prosecutors told her that if there came a point where there was a question about McDougal possibly perjuring herself, the matter would be turned over to an independent prosecutor.
The offer didn't do any good, Jahn testified in the fifth week of McDougal's criminal contempt and obstruction trial.
McDougal went to jail rather than cooperate with Starr's investigation, saying she was afraid she'd be charged with perjury unless she told Starr's office a story that implicated the president and first lady in wrongdoing.
Jahn, who formerly worked for Starr's office, gave a point-by-point rebuttal to McDougal's sworn testimony that prosecutors tried to get her to tell lies about the Clintons.
Jahn denied ever saying he could make McDougal's legal problems go away if she cooperated with Starr in the Clinton probe.
He also said he never told Jim McDougal that if his ex-wife would simply say she had a sexual affair with Clinton, she could "write her own ticket" with Starr's office.
On cross-examination, McDougal lawyer Mark Geragos tried to get Jahn to admit that Starr had a plan to convict McDougal and "roll her" over to testify against the Clintons.
Jahn conceded there's always a possibility that "today's defendant is tomorrow's witness," but he said Starr's office simply wanted the "total and complete truth."
Jahn said he votes Democratic and now works for a Clinton-appointed U.S. attorney in San Antonio. Nevertheless, while on Starr's staff, he won convictions against McDougal, her ex-husband, and then-Gov. Jim Guy Tucker in a 1996 Whitewater trial.
Jahn said he told Starr on going to work for the independent counsel "that it was my hope that we would be able to clear the president."
Jahn said he told Starr it wouldn't be good for the country to have the kind of disruption a criminal investigation of the president would bring.