Kenneth Starr, Clinton Whitewater probe prosecutor, dies

Washington, Sep 13 (EFE).- Kenneth Starr, the prominent lawyer and former prosecutor whose probe led to former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment died Tuesday in Houston hospital following complications from surgery, his family said. He was 76.

Starr was at the center of political controversy in the US while he investigated then-President Clinton for five years from 1994-1998.

He probed fraudulent real estate deals involving a long-time associate of the president, the so-called Whitewater investigation which also tarnished the reputation of first lady Hillary Clinton; investigated the removal of documents from the office of deputy White House counsel Vincent Foster after his suicide; and – most notably – gathered evidence regarding Clinton’s sexual involvement with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

Any one of those scandals could have had serious consequences for the president, and many Democrats harshly criticized him as a right-wing fanatic intent on destroying Clinton’s presidency.

It was the Lewinsky scandal motivated the House of Representatives to impeach Clinton in December 1998, but the Senate refused to convict him and the president served out his full term.

Starr became the youngest person – at age 37 – ever to serve on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and from 1989-1993 he served as US solicitor general during the administration of President George H.W. Bush and argued 25 cases before the Supreme Court.

His stellar legal career, many thought, put him on track to be nominated to serve on the US high court himself, but that never came to pass.

He headed Baylor University in his native Texas between 2010-2016 but he was removed as president of the institution for allegedly improperly handling sexual assault cases there.

During his period as special counsel investigating the Clintons, Starr secured convictions for 14 people linked to the scandals involving the president and first lady, including James McDougal, who died in prison on May 8, 1998, his ex-wife Susan McDougal and former Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker.

Starr was also a member of President Donald Trump’s defense team during his first impeachment in 2019, when the House accused the president of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, charges on which the Republican-controlled Senate refused to convict him.

Previously, he had been part of the legal team of financial mogul and child molester Jeffrey Epstein in a 2008 case – ultimately helping him negotiate a plea deal to spend only about a year in jail – and represented contractors with the US Blackwater company accused of war crimes for killing civilians during the Iraq War.

After his death was announced, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who knew Starr well, said: “Ken loved our country and served it with dedication and distinction. He led by example, in the legal profession, public service and the community.”

And Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called Starr “a brilliant litigator, an impressive leader and a devoted patriot.”

EFE er/ssa/enb/bp

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