Ken Starr

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Ken Starr : biography

21 July 1946 –

Investigation of the death of Vince Foster

On October 10, 1997, Starr’s report on the death of deputy White House counsel Vince Foster, drafted largely by Starr’s deputy Brett Kavanaugh, was released to the public by the Special Division. The report agrees with the findings of previous independent counsel Robert B. Fiske that Foster committed suicide at Fort Marcy Park, and that his suicide was caused primarily by undiagnosed and untreated depression. As CNN explained on February 28, 1997, "The [Starr] report refutes claims by conservative political organizations that Foster was the victim of a murder plot and coverup", but "despite those findings, right-wing political groups have continued to allege that there was more to the death and that the president and first lady tried to cover it up". CNN also noted that organizations pushing the murder theory included the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, owned by billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, and Accuracy in Media, supported in part by Scaife’s foundation. Scaife’s reporter on the Whitewater matter, Christopher Ruddy, was a frequent critic of Starr’s handling of the case.

Expansion of the investigation

The law conferred broad investigative powers on Starr and the other independent counsels named to investigate the administration, including the right to subpoena nearly anyone who might have information relevant to the particular investigation. Starr would later receive authority to conduct additional investigations, including the firing of White House Travel Office personnel, potential political abuse of confidential FBI files, Madison Guaranty, Rose Law Firm, Paula Jones law suit and, most notoriously, possible perjury and obstruction of justice to cover up President Clinton’s sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky. The Lewinsky portion of the investigation included the secret taping of conversations between Lewinsky and coworker Linda Tripp, requests by Starr to tape Lewinsky’s conversations with Clinton, and requests by Starr to compel Secret Service agents to testify about what they might have seen while guarding Clinton. With the investigation of Clinton’s possible adultery, critics of Starr believed that he had crossed a line and was acting more as a political hit man than as a prosecutor.Lacayo, Richard and Cohen, Adam , Time, Feb 9, 1998Froomkin, Dan , Washington Post, accessed 2009-06-25

Lewinsky scandal – Paula Jones lawsuit

In his deposition for the Paula Jones lawsuit, Clinton denied having "sexual relations" with Monica Lewinsky. On the basis of the evidence provided by Linda Tripp, a blue dress with Clinton’s semen, Ken Starr concluded that this sworn testimony was false and perjurious.

During the deposition in the Jones case, Clinton was asked "Have you ever had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky, as that term is defined in Deposition Exhibit 1, as modified by the Court?" The definition included contact with the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks of a person with an intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of that person, any contact of the genitals or anus of another person, or contact of one’s genitals or anus and any part of another person’s body either directly or through clothing. The judge ordered that Clinton be given an opportunity to review the agreed definition. Clinton flatly denied having sexual relations with Lewinsky. Later, at the Starr grand jury, Clinton stated that he believed the definition of "sexual relations" agreed upon for the Jones deposition excluded his receiving oral sex.

Starr’s investigation eventually led to the impeachment of President Clinton, with whom Starr shared Time’s Man of the Year designation for 1998. Despite his impeachment, the president was acquitted in the subsequent trial before the United States Senate as all 45 Democrats and a smattering of Republicans sided with him.See Impeachment of Bill Clinton#Trial before U.S. Senate.