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Hubbells spoke of pressure

In a prison telephone conversation with his wife, Webster Hubbell pondered suing his former law firm but said he would avoid raising "allegations that might open it up to Hillary" _ his former law partner and wife of President Clinton.

Hubbell acknowledged that the prospect of legal action by him that would air the dirty laundry of the Rose Law Firm would leave some people "scared, and rightfully so," according to a transcript of a March 26, 1996, prison telephone conversation obtained by the Associated Press.

His wife, Suzanna, suggested in that same conversation that she was concerned she would lose her support at the White House _ important for keeping her administration job _ if Hubbell proceeded with the plan.

That taped conversation was played by Whitewater prosecutors to Hillary Rodham Clinton last weekend when she gave videotaped testimony to a federal grand jury investigating her legal work, her lawyer confirmed late Thursday.

"I heard this on Saturday as Mr. Hubbell saying simply that he did not want to embarrass the first lady by involving her in litigation," attorney David Kendall said. "The independent counsel is making a trademark of keyhole spying, leaking, and surreptitious taping."

The tape recordings of Hubbell's prison conversation _ made public Thursday after Hubbell was indicted by Whitewater prosecutors on tax evasion charges _ were subpoenaed and transcribed by the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee as part of its investigation into campaign fund raising.

The Whitewater prosecutor also obtained the tapes last year.

The transcripts provide a glimpse of some of the worries the Hubbells had about their White House friends after he pleaded guilty to bilking his law firm in 1994 and began cooperating with prosecutors. The conversations were routinely taped by the prison where Hubbell served his prison sentence.

The Whitewater prosecutor also obtained the tapes last year.

Among other things, the tapes detail Hubbell's concerns about disclosing any information about money he received from the Indonesia-based Riady family after the campaign fund-raising scandal near the end of the 1996 election.

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