Ken Starr, the former judge and lawyer whose ‘Whitewater’ criminal investigation of Bill Clinton led to the president’s impeachment, has died.
Mr Starr, who was 76, was nominated by former President Ronald Reagan for a seat on the US Court of Appeals for the Washington, DC circuit, and served as US solicitor general under then-President George H W Bush.
But he was best known for his five-year-long investigation of President Clinton which 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.
The investigation of Clinton’s intimate relationship with Lewinsky was a Washington spectacle.
In 1995, Lewinsky went to work at the White House as an intern and late in that year, she and Clinton had a sexual encounter in a hallway near the Oval Office, the first of 10 sexual encounters over the next year and a half.
Ms Lewinsky confided the affair to a co-worker, Linda Tripp, who tape recorded some of their conversations and took the tapes to Mr Starr’s prosecutors.
Ms Lewinsky was granted immunity from prosecution and became Mr Starr’s chief witness against the president, who had denied “having sexual relations” with her.
In a bitter finish to his investigation of the Lewinsky affair that engendered still more criticism, Mr Starr filed a report, as the law required, with the US House of Representatives.
In it, he concluded the president had 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”.
The White House pilloried Mr Starr as a right-wing fanatic doing the bidding of Republicans bent on destroying the president.
The House Republicans used his report as a roadmap in the impeachment of the president, who was, in the end, acquitted in a Senate trial.
In 2020, Starr was recruited to help represent President Trump in the nation’s third impeachment trial.
In a memorable statement to Congress during that impeachment trial, Mr Starr said: “We are living in what I think can aptly be described as the ‘age of impeachment’.”
He said that “like war, impeachment is hell, or at least presidential impeachment is hell”.
Mr Starr’s family said he died on Tuesday in Houston, Texas, following complications after surgery.