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MCDOUGAL'S RELEASE REPORTEDLY SOUGHT

Former Sen. David Pryor met privately with a federal judge in an apparent effort to obtain the release of Whitewater figure Susan McDougal, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Thursday, citing unnamed sources.

Pryor, who retired from the Senate last year, confirmed that he met with U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright on Tuesday. But he declined to comment further. The judge also declined to discuss the meeting.

Mrs. McDougal has been held in jail on a contempt of court citation since September 1996, following her refusal to testify before a Whitewater grand jury. She has yet to begin serving a two-year prison sentence for her May 1996 felony convictions in the Whitewater investigation.

Mrs. McDougal has said she won't testify because she fears she would face a perjury charge if her testimony doesn't match what Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth Starr wants to hear.

In 1996, she and her ex-husband -- former business partners of President and Mrs. Clinton -- were convicted of fraud along with former Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker in a Whitewater-related trial.

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