Kenneth Starr, who prosecuted former President Bill Clinton in the Whitewater case that spiraled into Clinton’s impeachment, died Tuesday at 76.
Starr died at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center in Houston, Texas, due to complications from surgery, according to a statement issued by his family.
“I am very sorry to learn of the passing of my friend Judge Ken Starr. He was a brilliant litigator, an impressive leader and a devoted patriot,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, according to The Washington Post.
America just lost a tremendous patriot. And I lost a wonderful friend. I just learned that Ken Starr passed away today. News reports indicate it was due to complications from surgery. What a truly great loss to the nation.https://t.co/eEwrvgYyaR
— Mark R. Levin (@marklevinshow) September 13, 2022
Prior to his service as the independent counsel of the Whitewater probe, Starr was a law clerk to Fifth Circuit Judge David W. Dyer in 1973 and 1974 and Chief Justice Warren E. Burger from 1975 to 1977. Starr was also counselor and chief of staff to U.S. Attorney General William French Smith from 1981 to 1983.
He was United States Circuit Judge for the District of Columbia Circuit from 1983 to 1989, having been appointed by former President Ronald Reagan. He was then Solicitor General from 1989 to 1993 under former President George H. W. Bush.
Later in his career, Starr was the dean of the Pepperdine School of Law from 2004 to 2010. He was president and chancellor of Baylor University from 2010 to 2016.
Starr was part of former President Donald Trump’s defense team when Trump faced a Senate impeachment trial in 2020, according to Axios.
Starr was best known for his long-running investigation of real estate investments by the former president and his wife, Hillary Clinton, prior to the Clinton presidency. The Starr investigation was the vehicle that revealed the former president’s affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
The investigation led to some charges and convictions, but neither Bill nor Hillary Clinton ever faced criminal charges.
as i’m sure many can understand, my thoughts about ken starr bring up complicated feelings… but of more importance, is that i imagine it’s a painful loss for those who love him.
— Monica Lewinsky (she/her) (@MonicaLewinsky) September 13, 2022
As noted by History.com, Starr’s 1998 report ignited the impeachment proceedings against Clinton, claiming that grounds existed related to perjury, obstruction of justice, witness tampering and abuse of power.
Starr’s investigation laid bare the saga of Clinton’s sexual adventures with Lewinsky.
Although the House impeached Clinton, which is akin to an indictment, the Senate did not convict Clinton in a 1999 vote.
In 2018, Starr was interviewed by NPR about the book “Contempt” that he wrote about his investigation.
“[W]hat we’re really talking about ultimately is obstruction of justice and the abuse of power. The abuse of power is laid out in the book, and people will come to their own judgments. But in our view — all of us in the investigation involved believed that the president had abused his power, and that was a view that we uniformly shared,” he said.
“No matter the subject, Hillary was a classic noncredible witness. For starters, she was smug and dismissive. Her brittle personality was evident. … In our interactions, Hillary seemed cold and aloof, determined to make herself unlikable. She displayed no empathy factor at all,” the book said.
“Hillary would have been well advised to spend more time in Arkansas courtrooms, with real people, interacting with flesh-and-blood jurors and nervous witnesses. … Our interviews with people had revealed she’d been a mediocre attorney, for the most part,” the book continued.
The book called the former president a “fatally infected by self-indulgent exploitation of the vulnerable” and labeled his wife “a systematic enabler … viciously attacking the various women who came forward to say they were Bill’s paramours, including Monica Lewinsky.”
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