Starr's words of praise for the President

PRESIDENT Bill Clinton will be the recipient of a surprise Thanksgiving gift this evening: an accolade from the man widely seen as his Enemy Number One, Kenneth Starr. In an interview to be broadcast on ABC television today, the eve of the holiday, Mr Starr is asked for his personal opinion of Mr Clinton as opposed to any legal view he might have, and his answer, as released in advance excerpts by ABC, reads as follows:

"Extraordinarily talented, wonderfully empathetic, and I've been with people in the course of this work who are very close to him and think he inspires just tremendous affection and loyalty by a wide range of people."

The praise from Mr Starr, who is blamed by many in the White House for singlehandedly plotting the President's downfall, comes in the course of an hour-long interview conducted by the doyenne of American television interviewers, Barbara Walters. She is also scheduled to interview Monica Lewinsky early next year.

In the broadcast - seen by some as the latest in a series of attempts by Mr Starr to improve his overwhelmingly negative image with the American public - Mr Starr also intimates that his office could have handled some aspects of the Lewinsky case better. These included the fact that Monica Lewinsky's confidante and betrayer, Linda Tripp, went directly from giving information to the Starr investigation to see lawyers acting for Paula Jones in her sexual harassment lawsuit against Mr Clinton. This exposed the Starr team to criticism that they used privileged information in their own investigation.

Mr Starr's apparent lack of personal animosity against Mr Clinton was the second bonus in a day for the President. Earlier, the Attorney-General, Janet Reno, announced she would not seek an independent prosecutor to investigate allegations that Vice-President Al Gore lied when he was questioned about his party fund-raising activities. Ms Reno said the evidence of lying by Mr Gore was "so insubstantial that there are no reasonable grounds for further investigation".

Mr Gore had been accused of not telling the truth about fund-raising calls he allegedly made from his White House office in contravention of a law that forbids the use of federal property for party political purposes. The Attorney-General's decision, attacked by Republicans as political, means Mr Gore's expected bid for the presidency in 2000 will not be handicapped by impending legal proceedings.

The impeachment proceedings against President Clinton, meanwhile, looked set to continue, after the Republican majority on the House of Representatives judiciary committee made known that it had scheduled an additional public session next week to debate the definition and consequences of perjury. The clear aim is to present perjury as a serious crime and to compare the behaviour and treatment of "ordinary" citizens with the behaviour and treatment of Mr Clinton.

Resentment has been voiced, especially in some military quarters, about what is seen as leniency towards the President for failings that would have any member of the military court-martialled.

Even as Republicans gave the impression that they had no intention of letting the President off lightly, a new hint of compromise was in the air. A senior Democrat on the judiciary committee, William Delahunt, confirmed that he was preparing to table a motion that would support some punishment, but not removal from office. "Whether it's described as a rebuke, a condemnation or a censure," he told the Boston Globe, "it would be short of impeachment."

Were the committee to agree a compromise along these lines, the impeachment process could be halted by a vote of the House of Representatives without being passed to the Senate.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before