Starr's spin doctor quits over new charges leak

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The Independent Online
KENNETH STARR, the man who led the investigation into President Bill Clinton's affairs, is now himself the subject of an investigation. The government inquiry into his office is just part of the complex legal tangle left behind after the impeachment saga came to an end earlier this year, and no end is in sight.

Mr Starr's office has been accused of leaking to the press, mishandling the interrogation of Monica Lewinsky, and of having links to lawyers who were already investigating the President on accusations of sexual harassment.

He denied these charges, but late on Thursday night, the first shoe dropped. Mr Starr's spokesman, Charles Bakaly, resigned after an internal investigation into a story that appeared in the New York Times. Mr Starr's office handed the affair over to the US Justice Department, which will mount its own investigation.

Mr Bakaly was hired, ironically, to improve Mr Starr's public relations. After the NYT article appeared, Mr Bakaly went on television to deny he was the source. "We do not leak grand jury information," he said.

The Starr investigators are clearly angry to be in the spotlight, and they suspect political motivation on the part of Janet Reno, the Attorney General. "It seems as the closer we get to the president ... that they have all of a sudden insisted on conducting a very intrusive investigation into the heart of what we have been doing," said Robert Bittman, one of Mr Starr's former top officials.

Mr Bittman's comments make clear that in the view of some of Mr Starr's associates, the inquiry into Mr Clinton is far from over. "There still are matters to be investigated," he said. Indeed, the story in the New York Times reported that Mr Starr's team believed that it could still press charges against the President.

It is not clear how the inquiry into Mr Starr will be handled. He is still involved in another case, involving Susan McDougal, a former business partner of Mr Clinton. He alleges that a loan in Mr Clinton's name was linked to a fraudulent loan to Mrs McDougal. Nor is the Whitewater land deal dead as an issue.

The law which is the basis for all this activity, and for Mr Starr's appointment, is partly the cause of these legal shenanigans, and Congress is rethinking it. Almost nobody was satisfied with the way the impeachment saga was handled, but it will be just as difficult to agree on a new way of probing alleged abuses by senior officials as it is easy to say that the current system does not work.