Ken Starra former federal appellate judge and a prominent attorney whose criminal investigation into Bill Clinton His family say he led to the impeachment of the president and put Starr at the center of one of the country’s most polarizing debates of the 1990s, having died aged 76.
Starr died in hospital on Tuesday from complications from surgery, his former colleague, attorney Mark Lanier, said. He said Starr was hospitalized in an intensive care unit in Houston for about four months.
For years, Starr’s stellar reputation as a lawyer seemed to set him on the path to the Supreme Court. At 37, he became the youngest person to ever serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, where Chief Justice John Roberts and judges Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia have also served. From 1989-93, Starr was the attorney general in the administration of President George H. W. Bush, arguing 25 cases before the Supreme Court.
“Ken loves our country and serves it with dedication and distinction,” Roberts said on Tuesday. He has led by example, in law, public service and the community. “
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell remembered Starr Tuesday as “an accomplished litigator, an impressive leader, and a devoted patriot.”
Despite his impressive legal credentials, nothing could prepare him for the task of investigating a sitting president.
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In a five-year investigation, Starr looked into fraudulent real estate transactions involving a longtime Clinton associate, delving into the removal of documents from the White House deputy counsel’s office. Vincent Foster after he committed suicide and collected evidence of Clinton’s sexual encounters with Monica Lewinsky, a former White House intern. Each controversy has the potential to do serious, possibly fatal damage to the Clinton presidency.
In a tweet Tuesday, Lewinsky expressed mixed feelings upon learning of Starr’s death. “I’m sure many of you can understand, my thoughts on ken starr are mixed with mixed feelings,” she tweeted. “But more importantly, I imagine it’s a painful loss for those who loved him.”
As Clinton’s legal problems worsened, the White House branded Starr as a right-wing fanatic doing the bidding of Republicans looking to destroy the president.
Starr told a Senate committee in 1999: “The attacks have done a lot of damage to the investigation. Law becomes politics in other ways. “
In a bitter end to his investigation into the more critical Lewinsky affair, Starr filed a report, required by law, to the U.S. House of Representatives. He concluded that Clinton lied, engaged in obstruction of justice, and followed a pattern of conduct that was inconsistent with the president’s constitutional duty to faithfully execute the law. House Republicans used the Starr report as a roadmap in the impeachment process of the president, who was acquitted in a Senate trial.
In 2020, he was recruited to help represent Trump in his first impeachment trial. In a memorable statement to Congress, Starr said “we live in what I think can be aptly described as “ the age of impeachment.”
In a post on his Truth Social account, Trump hailed Starr as “a true patriotic American who loves our Country and the Law. I am so grateful for his support and his thoughts that our cause is against the fascists and other mentally ill people in our Country.”
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Clinton’s legal problems began during the 1992 presidential campaign. Questions arose about the candidate’s relationship with the owner of a failed Arkansas loan and savings account. The problem faded quickly. But it caught the attention of federal regulators, who began to consider whether money from S&L could be diverted to a real estate venture called Whitewater, in which Bill and Hillary Clinton and the owner S&L’s owner, Jim McDougal, has a financial interest.
Bowing to intense political pressure from Republicans and some members of his own party, Clinton called for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Whitewater. A three-member appeals court for Starr selected independent advisors.
On the Whitewater front, Starr prosecutors investigated Clinton’s legitimate work for Jim McDougal’s S&L. Both she and the president were questioned by Starr prosecutors, and audio recordings of them were shown to the jury during the criminal trials against McDougal and his ex-wife Susan. . Neither of the Clintons have been charged in connection with Whitewater.
The investigation into Clinton’s intimate relationship with Lewinsky was a spectacle in Washington.
In 1995, Lewinsky came to work at the White House as an intern. During the government shutdown later that year, she and Clinton had a sexual encounter in the hallway near the Oval Office, the first of 10 over the next year and a half. Lewinsky confided in the affair with a colleague, Linda Tripp, who recorded some of their conversations and gave the tapes to Starr’s prosecutors. Lewinsky has been granted immunity from prosecution in the Starr celebrity case and pushing a presidential sex scandal into America’s living room. She became Starr’s primary witness against the president, who denied having an affair with her.
Putting the investigation behind him, Starr embarked on an academic career, first as dean of the law school at Pepperdine University, where he taught constitutional and civil procedural matters, then as chancellor of the University. Baylor College in his home state of Texas. He also became an author, writing “First Among Equals: The Supreme Court in American Life”.
Starr was demoted from the presidency at Baylor in 2016 amid a sexual assault scandal that rocked the Big 12 school and its football program, when women were accused of being mold leaders. staff at the nation’s largest Baptist school or ignore complaints about their behavior. Baylor eventually settled with a number of women who had filed lawsuits, including the case where a victim of an assault in 2015 accused Baylor of harboring a “hunting ground for sexual predators.”
The school’s board of trustees allowed Starr to continue as principal and law school professor, jobs that had no “executive” duties at Baylor. He resigned completely a few months later. Football coach Art Briles was also fired.
A school-authorized review found that under Starr, school administrators discouraged students from reporting or participating in student conduct assessments, and even contributed to or facilitated a “hostile” environment against alleged victims.
In a statement, Starr apologized to “victims who were not treated with the care, care and support they deserved”.
Starr also attracted attention for his role in helping protect Jeffrey Epstein, the multimillionaire who committed suicide in prison in 2019 while awaiting trial on charges of sexually abusing multiple underage girls. Starr was part of the group that helped Epstein reach a controversial plea deal in 2008, which resulted in him receiving a 13-month sentence instead of facing more serious federal charges of abuse. sexual use.
Starr was born in Vernon, a small Texas town near Oklahoma, and raised in San Antonio. He earned a BA from George Washington University in 1968, an MA from Brown University in 1969 and a J.D. from Duke University Law School in 1973. He has been law clerk to Chief Justice Warren E. Burger since 1975. to 1977.
As a young attorney at the Los Angeles law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Starr worked with William French Smith, who became attorney general during the administration of President Ronald Reagan. Starr became an adviser to Smith, and has since been nominated by Reagan to the federal appeals court.
Bleiberg reports from Dallas. Associated Press writers Jim Vertuno of Austin, Terry Wallace of Dallas and the late Pete Yost contributed to this report.
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