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Prosecutor on the Clinton Whitewater probe, Ken Starr, has died at 76

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

Kenneth Starr has died. The conservative lawyer was known best as the independent counsel who investigated then-President Bill Clinton. He was 76 years old. According to a statement from his family, he died Tuesday of complications following surgery. NPR's Deepa Shivaram reminds us of Starr's long public career.

DEEPA SHIVARAM, BYLINE: At just 37 years of age, Ken Starr made history as the youngest person to serve on the Washington, D.C., Circuit Court of Appeals. A conservative from San Antonio, Starr was nominated by then-President Ronald Reagan. He went on to serve as solicitor general in the George H.W. Bush administration and argued 25 cases before the Supreme Court. But he's best known for leading an investigation into the real estate dealings of Bill and Hillary Clinton. The investigation would come to be known as Whitewater.

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KEN STARR: The investigation continues to be interested in the facts, the truth. We want all the facts. We want all the truth. That is what the investigation is about.

SHIVARAM: His role as independent counsel in the Whitewater investigation led him to look into President Clinton's relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

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UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: CNN has confirmed that Whitewater counsel Kenneth Starr has been granted permission to expand his investigation. He will be...

SHIVARAM: After five years of investigations, Starr issued a report that in part led to the House of Representatives impeaching President Clinton, though he was later acquitted by the Senate. More recently, Starr was president of Baylor University from 2010 to 2016, but he was forced out as university president after being accused of failing to appropriately investigate sexual assault claims. In 2020, Starr became a member of former President Donald Trump's defense team during his first impeachment trial. Starr claimed that impeachment was being used too often.

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STARR: Significantly, in this particular juncture in America's history, the Senate is being called to sit as the high court of impeachment all too frequently. Indeed, we are living in what I think can aptly be described as the age of impeachment.

SHIVARAM: Starr was a frequent commentator on Fox News, where he was a staunch defender of President Trump.

Deepa Shivaram, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Deepa Shivaram
Deepa Shivaram is a multi-platform political reporter on NPR's Washington Desk.