Kenn Starr, who led investigation that resulted in Bill Clinton’s impeachment, dies

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WASHINGTON – Ken Starr, a former federal appellate judge and a prominent attorney whose criminal investigation into Bill Clinton led to the president’s impeachment, died Tuesday at the age of 76, his family said.

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In 2020, he was recruited to the legal team representing President Donald Trump in the country’s third presidential impeachment trial.

For many years, Starr’s illustrious reputation as a lawyer propelled him to the Supreme Court. At 37, he became the youngest person to serve on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, where Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia also served. . From 1989–93, Starr was solicitor general in President George HW Bush’s administration, arguing 25 cases before the Supreme Court.


Despite his impressive legal credentials, no one could have prepared him for the task of investigating the incumbent president.

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In an investigation that lasted five years, Starr investigated fraudulent real estate deals involving a longtime Clinton aide, removal of documents from the office of White House deputy counsel Vincent Foster following his suicide, and Clinton’s sexual encounters. gathered evidence. Monica Lewinsky, a former White House intern. Each controversy had the potential to do serious, perhaps fatal, damage to Clinton’s presidency.

As Clinton’s legal problems worsened, the White House hailed Starr as a right-wing radical doing the bidding of a Republican intent on destroying the president.

“The attacks took a toll” on the investigation, Starr told a Senate committee in 1999. “A duly authorized federal law enforcement investigation was portrayed as another political game. Law became politics in other ways.”

FILE - In this December 19, 1998, file photo, President Bill Clinton watches Vice President Gore address members of Congress outside the Oval Office after voting for the President's impeachment.  (AP Photo/Doug Mills, FILE) org XMIT: NY671

At the bitter end of his investigation into the Lewinsky case, which drew even more criticism, Starr filed a report with the US House of Representatives, as required by law. They concluded that Clinton lied under oath, engaged in obstructing justice and followed a pattern of conduct that was inconsistent with the president’s constitutional duty to faithfully execute laws. House Republicans used the Starr report as a roadmap in the impeachment of the president, who was acquitted in the Senate trial.

FILE - Before the House Judiciary Committee's impeachment hearing, independent counsel Kenneth Starr holds up a copy of his report while testifying on Capitol Hill Thursday, November 19, 1998.  Starr, whose criminal investigation into Bill Clinton led to the impeachment of the president, died on September 13, 2022.  He was 76 years old.  (AP Photo/Doug Mills, FILE) org XMIT: WX122

In 2020, he was recruited to help represent Trump in the country’s third impeachment trial. In a memorable statement to Congress during the Trump impeachment trial, Starr said, “We are living in what I think can be aptly described as the ‘age of impeachment. He added that “like war, impeachment is hell, or at least presidential impeachment is hell.”

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Clinton’s legal problems began during the 1992 presidential campaign. The candidate’s relationship with the owner of a failed Arkansas savings and loan arose. The matter quickly faded. But it caught the attention of federal regulators, who began to look into whether money from S&L was routed to a real estate venture called Whitewater in which Bill and Hillary Clinton and S&L owner Jim McDougall shared a financial interest. .

Bowing to intense political pressure from Republicans and some members of her own party, Clinton called for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Whitewater. A three-member appeals court for independent counsel that selects the star.

On the whitewater front, STAR prosecutors investigate Hillary Clinton’s legal work for Jim McDougall’s S&L. Both he and the president were questioned by Starr’s prosecutors and their videotaped statements played for a jury in the criminal trials of McDougall and his ex-wife Susan. None of the Clintons were charged with regards to Whitewater.

The investigation into Clinton’s intimate relationship with Lewinsky was Washington’s farce.

In 1995, Lewinsky went to work at the White House as an intern. During a government shutdown later that year, he and Clinton had a sexual encounter in a hallway near the Oval Office, the first of 10 sexual encounters over the next year and a half. Lewinsky told a coworker, Linda Tripp, about the affair, who recorded some of their conversations and brought the tapes to Starr’s prosecutors. Lewinsky was exempted from prosecution and became Starr’s main witness against the president, who denied having sex with Lewinsky.

Leaving the investigation behind, Starr began a career in academia, first as dean of the law school at Pepperdine University, where he taught constitutional issues and civil procedures, then as president of Baylor University in his home state of Texas. . He also became a writer, writing “First Among Equals: The Supreme Court in American Life”.

Born in Vernon and raised in San Antonio, Starr earned his BA from George Washington University in 1968, an MA from Brown University in 1969, and his JD from Duke University Law School in 1973. That Chief Justice Warren E. Burgers from 1975 to 1977.

As a young attorney at the law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in Los Angeles, Starr worked with William French Smith, who became attorney general in President Ronald Reagan’s administration. Starr became an advisor to Smith, and from there was nominated by Reagan to a federal appeals court.

Former Associated Press writer Pete Yost contributed to this report.


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