Tag Archives: Whitewater

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.”

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.

‘Scandals’ won’t end? Of course they won’t!

imrs

The headline from the Washington Post was funny when I saw it.

Then I noticed who wrote the essay over which the headline was posted. Then I chuckled out loud.

“The Clinton scandals will never stop,” the headline blared. The byline belongs to Ed Rogers, a noted Republican operative.

If you add two plus two, you come up with four. So, if you believe what Rogers theorizes, then it all adds up. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton’s “scandals” won’t die because Republicans like Rogers won’t allow it … ever!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2016/11/03/the-clinton-scandals-will-never-stop/

Clinton has been in the public eye since before her husband, Bill Clinton, was elected president in 1992. The foes of the two politicians have been digging for dirt for longer than most of us can remember.

Whitewater, Vince Foster, sexual misbehavior, the Clinton Foundation, the Clinton Global Initiative, e-mails, “pay for play.”

I am sure I have missed something, but you get the idea.

The late Rev. Jerry Falwell once produced a video called “The Clinton Chronicles” that alleged that the Clintons were responsible for the murders of their political foes. How in the world he got away without being sued for defamation is beyond me.

If Clinton wins the election in three days, you can bet some serious American money that the “scandals” will stay in the news.

Republicans will make damn sure of it.

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?

Is karma about to bite Kenneth Starr?

ken starr

Does anyone out there see the irony in reports that Kenneth Starr has been fired as president of Baylor University?

Baylor’s board of regents will announce soon whether reports of Starr’s dismissal are true.

Why all the fuss over Starr? Baylor University has been struggling with a sex scandal on campus and reports that school officials failed to take action when one of the school’s football players was accused of raping a female student. The athlete was convicted and other cases emerged in which Baylor officials allegedly failed to take proper action.

The incident and the ensuing scandal has swallowed up the school.

https://www.texastribune.org/2016/05/24/amid-reports-starrs-firing-baylor-says-expect-anno/

The irony is this …

Kenneth Starr is the very same fellow who more than 20 years ago launched an investigation into President Bill Clinton’s real estate dealings. Congress appointed him as a special prosecutor to probe the Whitewater investment matter.

Then something happened. Starr got wind of an inappropriate relationship that the president was having with a young female White House intern. That scandal grew as well. The investigation into a real estate matter morphed into something quite different, more salacious.

The president was summoned before a federal grand jury, which asked him about the relationship. The president, who swore to tell the truth, didn’t tell the truth and he was impeached for lying under oath.

Sex has this way of engulfing things, if you know what I mean.

I get that the cases are far from similar. Starr hasn’t been accused of doing anything improper here. He might take the fall, though, for others’ actions or inaction. He does run the university and as President Truman’s famous White House desk sign pointed out: The Buck Stops Here.

Still, as the saying goes: Karma can be a real drag, man.

 

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.

 

‘Liberal media’ take no prisoners

media

Ben Carson has counterattacked the “liberal media” for what he calls a “witch hunt.”

Questions about his past have become all the rage. CNN keeps poking around in the hunt for corroboration that he once stabbed someone in a fit of anger. The network can’t find anyone to back it up. Now we hear that Dr. Carson, um, didn’t exactly get offered a West Point scholarship in the manner he said he did.

The media want to know the truth.

The counterattack points to what the doctor/Republican presidential candidate said is a double standard as it regards Democrats running for president. The media don’t look quite as intently at them as they do Republicans, according to Dr. Carson.

Hold on, doc.

Barack Obama faced intense scrutiny over:

  • His relationship with a fiery Church of Christ pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
  • His friendship with anti-Vietnam War activist William Ayers.
  • His place of birth and whether he was constitutionally qualified to run for president of the United States.
  • His academic records at Harvard, which Carson brought up again this week.

And, oh yes, Hillary Clinton, the current Democratic frontrunner has, throughout her public career, faced down matters involving:

  • Allegations that she covered up information about Benghazi.
  • Her involvement with her husband, the 42nd president, in the Whitewater real estate matter.
  • The death of her good friend, Vince Foster, who some in the media have suggested was murdered.

So … let’s take a breath, shall we?

I also should mention the names of other prominent Democratic pols who’ve wilted under the media glare.

Do the names Gary Hart and John Edwards ring a bell? How about Anthony Weiner and Barney Frank?

Let’s get back to the story at hand. Did a leading candidate for president of the United States misrepresent whether he was offered a West Point scholarship?

Well … ?

 

IRS controversy lives on … and on

The Internal Revenue Service controversy hasn’t yet blown up into a full-scale scandal, no matter how hard the right wing tries to make it so.

Now the talking heads and pols on the right are clamoring for a special counsel to investigate the matter. Recall, now, that it began with revelations that the IRS was vetting conservative political action groups’ requests for tax-exempt status. It does the same thing for liberal groups, too, but the conservative chattering class got all wound up over it and have raised a stink ever since.

Now there’s been further revelations about two years worth of emails that went missing from IRS honcho Lois Lerner’s computer. What the heck happened to them?

Republicans, not surprisingly, are trying to tie the IRS matter to the White House, even though no evidence has been uncovered that the IRS was doing anything under White House orders. They want to implicate the president — naturally! — for all this. So far they’ve come up empty.

A special prosecutor might be a good idea if Congress could limit the scope of his or her probe. The last notable special prosecutor hired was one Kenneth Starr, who was brought in to investigate the Whitewater real estate dealings involving President and Mrs. Clinton. Starr, though, went rogue and discovered the president had engaged in a tawdry relationship with a young White House intern.

The House of Reps impeached him because he lied to a federal grand jury about that relationship; the Senate acquitted the president at trial.

Is a special prosecutor needed in this case? I believe the GOP-led House of Representatives has looked thoroughly into this matter and has found zero evidence of White House complicity in anything involving the IRS.

That, of course, will not end the clamor.

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.

Christie clears himself of wrongdoing

This just in: A team of lawyers with close ties to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says the governor didn’t do anything wrong in the infamous closure of George Washington Bridge lanes.

Who knew?

http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/christie-bridge-scandal/internal-probe-christies-account-bridgegate-rings-true-n63796

I have an idea. It’s worked before in other controversies that turned into scandals.

Why not hire a real, honest-to-goodness independent special prosecutor to look deeply into this matter?

A brief background: Someone reportedly ordered the closure of several lanes on the world’s busiest bridge in 2013 after the Fort Lee, N.J. mayor, a Democrat, refused to endorse the re-election bid by Christie, a Republican. The traffic tie-up caused incredible havoc on the bridge. Democrats accused Christie of getting back at the mayor. Republicans say that’s so much bunk. Christie has said from the beginning he had no advance knowledge of the closure. Others have said he is covering up what he knew and when he knew it.

The law firm that did this probe didn’t interview some key principals in the matter, such as former deputy Christie chief of staff Bridget Kelly who sent out the infamous email that said it was “time for some traffic problems” on the GW bridge.

Hey, a special prosecutor should be turned loose on this matter.

Do the names Leon Jaworski and Ken Starr ring any bells for you. Jaworski was the special prosecutor who probed the cover-up of the Watergate scandal that eventually brought down the presidency of Richard Nixon. And Starr? He was picked to investigate something called “Whitewater” during the Clinton presidency and his investigation ended up revealing a tawdry sexual affair involving the president and a young White House intern; President Clinton was impeached as a result, tried in the Senate and acquitted of “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

President Nixon didn’t know about the Watergate break-in in advance. The cover-up did him in.

This so-called “investigation” of Gov. Christie’s alleged role in the bridge-lane closure doesn’t even come close to putting an end to this story.

Bring in an independent counsel and let’s get some real answers.