Ken Starr, whose investigation led to Bill Clinton impeachment, dies aged 76

A former US federal appellate judge and lawyer whose criminal investigation of Bill Clinton led to the president’s impeachment, has died aged 76.

Ken Starr died at a hospital on Tuesday of complications from surgery, according to his former colleague, lawyer Mark Lanier. He said Mr Starr had been hospitalised in an intensive care unit in Houston for about four months.

For many years, Mr Starr’s stellar reputation as a lawyer seemed to place him on a path to the Supreme Court.

Hide Ad

At age 37, he became the youngest person to serve on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, where chief Justice John Roberts and justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia also had served.

Attorney Ken Starr speaks as U.S. President Donald Trump's legal team resumes its presentation of opening arguments in Trump's Senate impeachment trial
Hide Ad

From 1989-93, Mr Starr was the solicitor general in the administration of president George HW Bush, arguing 25 cases before the Supreme Court.

Mr Roberts said on Tuesday: “Ken loved our country and served it with dedication and distinction. He led by example, in the legal profession, public service, and the community.”

Hide Ad

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell remembered Mr Starr as “a brilliant litigator, an impressive leader, and a devoted patriot”.

In a probe that lasted five years, Mr Starr looked into fraudulent real estate deals involving a long-time Clinton associate, delved into the removal of documents from the office of deputy White House counsel Vincent Foster after his suicide and assembled evidence of Clinton’s sexual encounters with Monica Lewinsky, a former White House intern.

Hide Ad

Each of the controversies held the potential to do serious, perhaps fatal, damage to Clinton’s presidency.

In a Tuesday tweet, Ms Lewinsky expressed mixed emotions on the news of Mr Starr’s death. “As I’m sure many can understand, my thoughts about Ken Starr bring up complicated feelings,” she tweeted.

Hide Ad

“But of more importance, is that i imagine it’s a painful loss for those who love him.”

As Mr Clinton’s legal problems worsened, the White House pilloried Mr Starr as a right-wing fanatic doing the bidding of Republicans bent on destroying the president.

Hide Ad

“The assaults took a toll” on the investigation, Mr Starr told a Senate committee in 1999. “A duly authorised federal law enforcement investigation came to be characterised as yet another political game.

“Law became politics by other means.”

Hide Ad

In a bitter finish to his investigation of the Lewinsky affair that engendered still more criticism, Mr Starr filed a report in which he concluded that Mr Clinton lied under oath, engaged in obstruction of justice and followed a pattern of conduct that was inconsistent with the president’s constitutional duty to faithfully execute the laws.

House Republicans used Mr Starr’s report as a roadmap in the impeachment of the president, who was acquitted in a Senate trial.

Hide Ad

In 2020, he was recruited to help represent Mr Trump in his first impeachment trial.

He said that “like war, impeachment is hell, or at least presidential impeachment is hell”.

Hide Ad

Mr Trump paid tribute to Mr Starr as “a true American Patriot who loved our country and the law”.

Ms Lewinsky tweeted: “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.”

Comments

 0 comments

Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.