Tag Archives: Kenneth Starr

Kenneth Starr: The King of Irony

Leave it to Kenneth Starr to make one of the more ironic declarations about the unfolding investigation into Donald J. Trump’s alleged involvement with Russian election hackers.

Starr has cautioned special counsel Robert Mueller to avoid going onto a “fishing expedition” in his search for the truth behind whether Trump’s presidential campaign had any improper dealings with Russians seeking to meddle in our 2016 election.

Mueller needs to keep his mission focused, Starr said. He shouldn’t allow it to wander onto unplowed ground.

Well now. How does one respond to that?

Let’s try this.

Kenneth Starr became a master judicial fisherman in the 1990s when he was selected as special counsel to investigate a real estate deal called Whitewater involving President and Mrs. Clinton. He came up with nothing there. Then he sauntered off into a sexual harassment charge leveled against the president by Paula Jones. Then he found something else, which was a relationship the president was having with a White House intern.

Real estate deal leads to sexual harassment, which then leads to a sexual relationship. Impeachment followed all of that.

Is the current special counsel headed down the same path? I haven’t a clue.

Kenneth Starr, though, proved to us all that these investigations can hit pay dirt even as they wander hither and yon.

The comic aspect of this whole discussion is that someone such as Starr would issue a word of caution for one of his legal descendants about a “fishing expedition.”

Special counsel’s plate getting quite full

Robert Mueller keeps getting more information than he can digest at a single sitting.

Yep, the special counsel assigned to examine Russian government meddling into our electoral process and allegations that the Donald J. Trump campaign colluded with the Russians is getting a good bit more, um, complicated.

The Washington Post is reporting, for instance, that the president told Donald John Trump Jr. how he should describe a meeting Don Jr. had with a Russian lawyer who invited him to meet so he could receive some alleged dirt on Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The president’s lawyer denies the story outright. Other Trump defenders accuse the Post of conveying “fake news.”

But, oh, this is the stuff of serious political intrigue.

Don Jr. supposedly reported the meeting was to be about “Russian adoption policy.” That wasn’t the case, according to the Post, which reports that young Don got instructions from Dad the President on what to say.

I believe that might constitute a serious obstruction of justice matter … if it’s true. The Post, of course, stands by its story, while the White House denies all of it.

Don Jr. isn’t talking. Imagine that.

Recall that another special counsel, Kenneth Starr, started looking into a real estate deal involving President and Mrs. Clinton. Then more tidbits began flying over his transom. Eventually, Starr got wind of a relationship Bill Clinton was having with a young White House intern. Starr poked around a little more and, well, the rest is history.

Mueller has the same latitude as Starr as he pursues the Russia matter. Stories such as the one published by the Post give him even more grist to pore through as he continues his pursuit of the truth behind the Russia story.

Dear Mr. POTUS: Let Mueller do his job

Donald J. Trump requires a lesson in government. Yep, the president of the United States does not understand how many things work.

Take the special counsel hired by the U.S. Department of Justice to examine the president’s potential ties to the Russian government and whether there might be some collusion between that government and the president’s winning campaign in 2016.

He is rattling some sabers, threatening to fire special counsel Robert Mueller if he looks into the Trump family’s financial dealings.

Here’s where the lesson might kick in.

The special counsel has wide latitude to take the examination wherever it leads. Does the president recall what occurred when an earlier special prosecutor, Kenneth Starr, began examining a real estate matter involving President and Mrs. Clinton? He sniffed around and then learned about a young White House intern. Starr then learned about a relationship she was having with the president. He decided to ask the president some questions about it. He summoned him to a federal grand jury; the president violated the oath he took to tell the truth; he then was impeached.

That’s what happens, Mr. President. Special counsels are within their legal authority to look where they can find to determine the truth. Indeed, an examination of family business dealings well might help the public learn the whole truth about the relationship between the Trump empire and the Russian government. If it finds nothing there, then Mueller’s office can clear the president.

Technically, the president cannot summarily fire the special counsel. He has to ask the Justice Department to do it. Indeed, a leading congressional Republican, Rep. Mike McCaul of Texas, has warned the president about getting rid of Mueller. If he does it, the president faces a bipartisan backlash on Capitol Hill.

Let the process continue, Mr. President. You don’t seem to know the trouble you would purchase if you act foolishly.

No ‘fishing expeditions’? Sure thing, Sen. Cruz

Ted Cruz doesn’t want special counsel Robert Mueller to go on a “fishing expedition” in his search for answers relating to Donald J. Trump’s relationship with Russian government officials.

I now shall remind the junior U.S. Republican senator from Texas about another fishing expedition that once suited GOP members of Congress just fine. It involved Kenneth Starr’s probe into an Arkansas real estate matter; they called it Whitewater.

Starr, the special counsel appointed to look into that deal, then went on a fishing expedition of his own. He wandered far afield and then discovered that President Bill Clinton was involved in a tawdry relationship with a young White House intern.

A federal grand jury summoned the president to talk about that relationship. The president didn’t tell the panel the truth.

Boom! Congressional Republicans then had their grounds for impeaching the president. The House did it. The Senate then acquitted him.

So, you see? Fishing expeditions can turn into something consequential.

Mueller is a pro and deserves latitude in his search for the truth.

I just find it laughable that Cruz would issue a warning against Mueller, a former FBI director and a man fairly universally respected as a thorough and meticulous investigator. Indeed, Cruz called Mueller a “good and honorable man.”

One can imagine if a Democratic president faced the kind of scrutiny that is being leveled against Donald Trump. What do you suppose the Cruz Missile would say then?

I get how political consideration — and leanings — are driving the analyses of the Mueller investigation.

My own take on Robert Mueller’s probe is that if he uncovers something that is, um, illegal, he is bound by his oath to pursue it to the very end.

Turn the special counsel loose

If history is any guide, a special counsel investigation aimed at rooting out issues relating to the president of the United States and his alleged ties to Russia well could develop a life of its own.

Robert Mueller has been given the task of finding out whether Donald John Trump’s presidential campaign was complicit in Russian government efforts to swing the 2016 presidential election. He’s also going to examine possible links between a former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, to the Russians. Moreover, he has latitude to look into whether the president obstructed justice by “asking” former FBI Director James Comey to shut down a probe of Flynn’s ties to Russia.

Could there be even more to learn, beyond the official tasks given to Mueller — himself a former FBI director?

Mueller’s the man

We have some historical precedent to ponder.

Kenneth Starr once held the title of “independent prosecutor.” His duty in the 1990s was to look at a real estate venture involving President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton. Republican critics in Congress thought there were some shady circumstances that needed to be examined. Starr began poking around and discovered some evidence of a relationship between President Clinton and a young 20-something White House intern.

A federal grand jury summoned the president to testify. The president took an oath to tell the whole truth to the grand jury — and then he lied about his relationship.

Ah-hah! GOP House members then cobbled together an impeachment proceeding that charged the president with perjury and obstruction of justice. The House impeached the president. The Senate held its trial and he was acquitted.

Will history repeat itself? I have no clue. My guess is that special counsel Mueller doesn’t yet know where his probe will lead.

These matters do have a way of growing legs. The statute gives Mueller considerable leeway in his pursuit of the truth. The president cannot fire him; he can, though, order the Justice Department to do so. Let’s hope that Donald Trump resists that impulse. I know that’s a tall order, given the self-proclaimed joy he gets when he fires people.

But the Justice Department’s deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, has picked a serious legal heavyweight to do some seriously heavy lifting.

It’s time now for Robert Mueller to get busy. Rapidly.

Football isn’t exactly ‘king’ at Baylor University

briles

The hammer has dropped on two leading figures at Baylor University.

Kenneth Starr has been moved out of the president’s office and “demoted” to the role of Baylor chancellor. I guess within the Baylor system, the chancellor is more of a figurehead than an actual administrator.

Meanwhile, head football coach Art Briles has been “suspended.” Baylor regents, though, said they intend to fire the coach.

What’s more, Baylor Athletic Director Ian McCaw has been placed on probation.

This is a big deal. It centers on a sex scandal at the Waco school.

Two players were convicted of sexual assault. The trouble erupted, though, when allegations surfaced that the school didn’t take the charges seriously enough initially.

“We were horrified by the extent of these acts of sexual violence on our campus,” said Richard Willis, chair of the Baylor Board of Regents. “This investigation revealed the university’s mishandling of reports in what should have been a supportive, responsive and caring environment for students. The depth to which these acts occurred shocked and outraged us.”

And just why is this a big deal? Because, the football program had been rebuilt. Baylor was getting a lot of money because its football team was winning a lot of games. The school rebuilt its stadium. Coach Briles was seen a major celebrity at Baylor.

As for Starr, well, I’ve already commented on the rich irony of his dismissal. Recall that Starr served as special counsel to Congress, which charged him with looking into the Whitewater real estate deal involving President and Mrs. Clinton. The Whitewater probe then morphed into an investigation into a sexual relationship between President Clinton and a young White House intern.

That investigation culminated in the president’s impeachment on charges that he lied to a grand jury.

Sex consumed that investigation … just as it has consumed the university that Starr has led for the past couple of years.

Irony? You bet.

http://www.cnn.com/2016/05/26/us/baylor-kenneth-starr-art-briles/index.html

This isn’t the first time a big-name football has been taken down by a sex scandal. Penn State University fired the legendary Joe Paterno after one of his assistant coaches, Jerry Sandusky, was accused of sexual abuse of boys. Sandusky has been convicted of multiple felonies and is serving time in prison. The question became: What did JoePa know and when did he know it?

The same thing can be asked of Coach Briles and Kenneth Starr.

Someone has to be held responsible. Who better than two of the men at the top of the chain of command?

Yes, impeachment was about sex

bumpers

Now that Donald Trump has dredged up the Bill Clinton impeachment travesty, it’s good to take a brief moment to remember someone who arguably had the best sound bite of all regarding that tawdry political episode.

Dale Bumpers was a former governor and U.S. senator from Arkansas, President Clinton’s home state. Bumpers died this week at the age of 90.

He once described himself as the “best lawyer in a one-lawyer town.” His self-deprecating wit would be welcome today in an era when too many politicians take themselves as seriously — if not more so — than their public service calling.

Well, it was Bumpers who offered up a fascinating quote regarding the president’s impeachment. You’ll remember that special counsel Kenneth Starr started looking at a real estate deal involving President and Mrs. Clinton. He expanded his probe to include a wide range of issues.

Lo and behold, he discovered that the president had improper relationship with a White House intern. A federal grand jury questioned Clinton about it; the president was less than truthful. Thus, came the ostensible grounds for impeachment.

Bumpers, though, told the truth about it.

“When they say this impeachment isn’t about sex,” Bumpers said, “it’s about sex.”

He was right.

The impeachment itself turned out to be a political travesty of the first order.

The House did its job by impeaching the president. The Senate — which included Bumpers — did its job as well by acquitting him.

 

Starr speaks sanely about campus-carry law

campus carry

There once was a time when I wasn’t much of a fan of Kenneth Starr.

That was when he served as a special counsel who was given the task of investigating a real estate matter involving Bill and Hillary Clinton. Then he came upon another matter, the relationship that President Clinton had with a young White House intern.

He’s gone on, though, to become president and chancellor of Baylor University. And this week he told the Texas Tribune that there’s almost no chance that Baylor is going to allow licensed gun owners to pack heat on the Waco campus. What’s more, Starr also opposes the campus carry law.

Who knew that Kenneth Starr had such a reasonable streak?

Baylor joins other private universities in Texas that likely will opt out of the concealed carry law. Starr’s take? He told the Tribune: “My own view is that it is a very unwise public policy, with all due respect to those who feel strongly (and) very, very rooted in constitutional values as they see them. We’re here as seats of learning, and I do not think this is helpful.”

The bill, enacted by the 2015 Legislature, seeks to bring more guns into places where they previously had been banned. I saw nothing wrong with banning firearms on college and university campuses.

I’m glad to be on the same page as Kenneth Starr. For the life of me I never thought I’d see it happen.

 

Monica's back; now, just go away

She’s back.

Monica Lewinsky is now 40 and she’s written a book. She has returned to the public eye apparently to sell a few copies of her book, to make some money and to set the record straight on what happened between her and the 42nd president of the United States.

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/05/the-return-of-monica-lewinsky-106507.html?hp=r16#.U22Y5FJOWt8

Count me as one American who doesn’t care what she has to say.

Lewinsky’s role in the impeachment of President Clinton has been covered, dissected, micro-examined and analyzed to the hilt. It’s all been revealed.

She now wants to “move on,” and wants to “burn the beret and bury the blue dress.” You remember the blue dress, right? The one with the president’s, um, DNA that proved he did something naughty with the then 20-something White House intern.

He had denied doing it in testimony before a federal grand jury. Yes, he told a lie under oath and that became — officially — the reason the House of Representatives impeached him. The Senate put the president on trial, but he was acquitted.

The question perhaps always will remain, in my mind at least: How did a special prosecutor’s investigation into a real estate deal — which we called “Whitewater” — then involve what the president was doing after hours with a young woman?

I smelled a witch hunt at the time and I believe the prosecutor, Kenneth Starr, was motivated to find something, anything, to pin to the president. He found it when he discovered Monica Lewinsky.

She’s back, telling her side of the story. She believes she was scapegoated by the president and first lady — and their allies. Fine. She’s entitled to say it.

I’m already hoping she’ll now move back to private life and doing whatever she’s been doing since her moment of notoriety flamed out.