Ken Starr With Mark Tapson at Restoration Weekend

Reflections on "Contempt" and the Clinton investigation.

Editor’s note: Below are the video and transcript of Shillman Fellow Mark Tapson’s interview with Ken Starr at the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s 2018 Restoration Weekend. The event was held Nov. 15th-18th at the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, Florida.

Ken Starr with Mark Tapson from DHFC on Vimeo.


Mark Tapson: Welcome Ken Starr. Congratulations again on the book, which I read and recommend highly.  It’s very entertaining, as is Ken Starr himself.   

Ken Starr: Thank you very much. 

Tapson: People have been asking you for more than two decades to tell your side of the story.  Why did you wait so long, and why did you choose the title “Contempt”? 

Starr: Let me begin with the word “contempt”.  That was not the working title of the book when I was being encouraged, yet again, to write the book.  My circumstances were such that I had the freedom to reflect on these things, and the feelings were very powerful.  I wanted to write about it and yet, I was a bit Hamlet-like because it was very unpleasant.  Obviously, it was an unpleasant experience for the country.  It was, as I describe in the book, extraordinarily unpleasant for us as a family and so, the family had to bear so much of the emotional burden.  I had a job to do and then tried to do that job, but our daughter, for example, at Stanford was under 24-hour security.  I was under death threat but that goes with the territory, and I had U.S. Marshals security.  So, it was not a great time for our family and so, I was not that eager to do it but again, personal freedom and here we are at the Freedom Center and in the spirit of David Horowitz, speak truth 20 years later.  The anniversary was coming up, and I decided, Mark, it’s now or never. 

The title itself was not the working title as I was writing the book, and it is a memoir.  So, it’s not a book of history going back to archives.  Obviously, I refreshed my recollection in a number of respects, but Bill Clinton stands as the only president of the United States ever to have been held in contempt by a United States history judge. And my friends, he was held in contempt not for the perjury that he so clearly committed in both the civil deposition and then even more seriously, before the federal grand jury in Washington D.C.:  on that fateful day of August 1998, he was found in contempt by a United States Circuit Court judge, and he didn’t appeal that finding or holding of contempt because of obstructions of justice.  Does that sound familiar?  Obstruction of justice, which is one of the articles of impeachment. 

Tapson: You mentioned it was a really difficult time for you and your family, but I noticed that the book is dedicated in part, at least, to “the good and gracious residents of Little Rock,” which for years was what you called your home away from home and how they made it a little more palatable.  I have a personal investment in this question because I’m from Little Rock. 

Starr: You’re from Little Rock? 

Tapson: Yes.

Starr: Well, you’re from a great city.  It just had a corrupt political structure.  It’s an illustration, I think Mark and our dear friends of Madison’s Federalist papers. Mr. Madison in the Federalists papers wrote very eloquently as to the Colonel Hamilton and the future chief justice of the United States for a brief period, John Jay, about the need to have a vast commercial republic and so, that factions would not, and that was his word, factions would not seize and hold power. 

I think we’ve been telling you a fair amount that there may have been factions in the FBI or the justice department and in the intelligence community.  We need checks and we need balances and so, what the good people of Little Rock had to suffer through was essentially corrupt government, but the people themselves were very good people.  They were honorable people and as I say in the book, throughout that long period which had to be difficult for them because their governor was in the dock and was convicted.  I mean their city governor, I’m not talking about Bill Clinton. 

I’m talking about his successor, Jim Guy Tucker, who was convicted by a Little Rock federal jury of serious crimes and sentenced to house confinement because of a health condition.  They knew these people.  Little Rock is a small community.  It’s a cohesive community, but they wanted to know the truth, and I heard that early on.  So, I describe in the book that one of the really powerful people in Little Rock invited me somewhat clandestinely to a meeting off the record of sort of the movers and shakers in the community to say who is this person, Starr, etc., and one of the things that this person said, is we know these people who are under investigation, obviously including the president of the United States and the former first lady of Arkansas.  We know them.  She said, now giving away her gender, she said we go to church with these people.  We know them.  We belong to the same country club and all that, but we want to know the truth, and that was what was so redemptive of the good people of Little Rock. 

Tapson: In the summer of 1994 when you got the call feeling out your availability to serve as independent counsel for the Whitewater investigation, that was a role you had reservations about for a couple of reasons.  What were those reservations, and why did you decide to accept? 

Starr: They were very deep reservations, and they were both constitutional and prudential.  I was privileged to serve as chief of staff to the attorney general during the administration of Bill Smith, William French Smith during the regular administration, and we took the position that the independent counsel law was unconstitutional as a violation of separation of powers, and our position.

I lay all of this out in the book, was advanced and trumped by no lesser lie than Rudy Giuliani, who was serving as associate attorney general.  We urged congress not to reauthorize this law as eroding the powers of the presidency.  We’ve talked a fair amount about executive powers, separation of powers, principles, and the founding generation, as you know Mark, felt very strongly of these structural principles.  So, it’s separation of powers and federalism of rights of the state, remember the Ninth and the Tenth Amendments to the Bill of Rights and so forth. 

That’s obviously shifted over the history of our 2 centuries plus as a constitutional republic, but needs to be reserved to the states so that the states can be the laboratories of experimentation as Louis Brandies said so eloquently, but we felt it was unconstitutional, and we also felt it was bad policy, but congress worked it’s will by an overwhelming bipartisan majority, and reauthorized it.  So, by the time I was asked, Mark, it was the law of the land.  The Supreme Court had upheld it, and a very unfortunate decision of 7 to 1, Justice Kennedy was due to the court to participate towards a 7 to 1, so massive majority.

I have another homework assignment for you and that is at some juncture, please read Justice Galea’s magnificent decent in the case of Morrison verses Olson, and you will have, in that wonderful and rather entertaining and so great judicial opinion, a magnificent reminder of the structural principles that the founding generation meant to be honored so as to preserve liberty. 

But I was asked.  I was asked to serve.  I did not apply for that lousy job.  You know, in Washington there is a book called the plum book, so all the jobs people want, and then there’s the prune book.  You can imagine what the prune book is.  My view, this kind of job, the independent counsel, whatever it’s called should be at the top of the list of the prune book. 

Tapson: Another reservation was that you felt that maybe prosecuting then-President Clinton might not be a career-enhancing move. 

Starr: Yeah, he was obviously a minority-elected president.  Got 43 percent of the vote in 1992.  Lots of issues raised about his character and so forth and rightly so, but that having been said, the American people tend to want their president to succeed.  That seems to have changed somewhat radically in the 21st Century, but you may not have voted for the president, but you want the country to do well etc. and so, I thought why should I be investigation a newly-installed president of the United States.  But, by the way, this was August of 1994, and it was already shaping up to be one of those wave elections that we did not have thankfully this time in 1994 because, as you know, in 1994 was when because why Hillary was the copresident of the United States, and we had Hillary care. 

So, some of us are old enough to remember that quite vividly that the American people massively rejected that first 2 years of the term but even with all of that, and that hadn’t quite happened yet, I am so so, for the first time back in private life in 12 years, we were blessed with three children, bills to pay and so forth.  So, I was practicing law and teaching at NYU Law School.  So, life was good and still is good.  So, it came at a not great time personally, but I was asked to serve.  I didn’t apply for it as they say, and I thought I have a duty to respond.  I did not serve in the military.  I thought I was going to.  I had to tell that story but at the last second, 4-F psoriasis, you know the heartbreak of psoriasis, just ridiculous.  I had gone through the whole physical exam process and was passing with flying colors, and I’m blessed with good health, but it was the time of Vietnam, and the physician said you’ve got psoriasis.  It was a bad case.  You’re 4-F.  So, the long and short of it is, I’ve always felt the need because I had friends who did go to Vietnam.  I lost one friend in Vietnam.  All of us who lived through that generation know the sorrow of that time.  So, I think I felt an extra burden to say yes when called upon to serve the country. 

Tapson: You had no idea how big a burden it was going to become because you felt the duration of the investigation would probably last just a few months, right?  It didn’t quite turn out that way.  You mentioned that the scope of the investigation turned out to be, as you put it, a hydra –

Starr: Yes. 

Tapson: – that touched on financial fraud and government corruption and from there, the Vince Foster suicide and then Paula Jones and on and on to Monica Lewinsky. 

Starr: It expanded, and that’s one of the things when people say look, why did the special counsel now go with Paul Manafort, and where did that come from and so forth.  So, under the old independent counsel law, which is no longer in effect, and let me just get to the Lewinsky phase, unless time fails us.  When the information came to us from Linda Tripp, we knew Linda Tripp.  She had been executive assistant to Vincent Foster Jr.  So, she had helped us understand his frame of mind and so forth, and she was a credible witness, and of course, she is then transferred in the fullness of time over the Pentagon, and where did she become very close friends with Monica Lewinsky but now in terms of the authorization checks and balances.  When we then had, and we did our own assessment of what Linda was telling us and she had tape recordings, to buttress what she said, namely that Monica had filed a perjurious affidavit and that she, Linda, was being importuned by Monica Lewinsky to do exactly the same thing, to commit perjury. 

That’s pretty serious stuff.  Hey, why don’t you sign this document.  Oh, okay, fine.  What does it say?  Well, you will be committing perjury but sign it anyway because we’re trying to protect the president of the United States.  It’s pretty serious stuff.  So, out of self-protection and Linda may have had mixed motives, but certainly, one of them was I don’t want to commit a crime, and I better cooperate with folks.  I don’t trust the justice department.  Who do I go to and so, we were kind of the folks who she did have trust in, nowhere other than through the Vince Foster Jr. thing, but here’s the point.  Attorney General Janet Reno personally authorized us to look into where Monica Lewinsky and others committed perjury, obstructed justice, and so forth.  Now that was loss to the American people.  We did not do, and we weren’t equipped to do a particularly good job of getting the message out.  That was really the job of the justice department and especially of Janet Reno and as you know, Mark, having read the book, the late Janet Reno comes in for pretty harsh criticism and I think its fair criticism for her failure of nerve of willingness to go out and say, excuse me but I authorize you to do this investigation of whether the president committed perjury and obstructed justice. 

Tapson: I want to back up just a second to the Whitewater investigation just because I find this part so entertaining.  Could you describe the different demeanors and styles, if you want to put it that way, of Bill and Hillary Clinton during their depositions? Because I think this is very interesting.

Starr: Thank you, Mark.  Sometimes you ask me, but will it surprise this learned audience to know that Bill was Mr. Charm.  Hey, let me show you the Lincoln Bedroom and let me tell you about this map room here, where he committed perjury according to Jim McDougal, and here’s the map room.  You see that map and that’s what Franklin Delano Roosevelt was looking at before he exited to get on that train fatefully to go to Orange Springs, Georgia.  There it is.  Let me show you the Lincoln Bedroom and just oh, how are you doing, etc. great to see you, good people.  I know you’ve got a tough job to do.  Hillary, the ice person cometh, all eyes, smug, arrogant, and she perfected, as I go into the book, and we considered indicting Hillary, and so, we may have.  I may get some grief tonight over cocktails, why didn’t you guys indict Hillary Clinton?  Well, you’ll see in the book, we seriously considered it. 

We simply didn’t have quite the evidence as ethical prosecutors, which we tried to be.  We needed more documentation.  We had elaborate documentation to prove the guilt of Jim and Susan McDougal and Jim Guy Tucker, but documents had been lost.  Documents had been destroyed, right?  The front row here is great.  This is an amen chorus down here.  This is really great, and then one of the keys is you can’t just throw in a lot of documents.  You need documents.  You need witnesses.  Does anyone remember Susan McDougal?  She knew a lot, but of course, she went into contempt to prevent herself from having to actually answer questions.  Eventually, she did at her criminal contempt trial, and we think that she perjured herself, but she got a pardon from Bill Clinton on the last day in office, and one of the things that Jim McDougal told us, and he wrote this in his book which was published posthumously, is that Bill Clinton in the White House told him, Jim McDougal, tell Susan we’ll take care of her. 

Tapson: I had to crack up at Bill Clinton’s line in the book when he defended Hillary by saying, “I wish all Americans were as honest as Hillary.”

Starr: Wow.  Pinocchio’s nose. 

Tapson: And speaking of liars – sorry to interrupt you – speaking of liars, I love this story.  Can you tell the story about the moment one of your team members knew in his heart that Clinton was a liar? 

Starr: Yes.  When during the trial of Jim and Susan McDougal and of Jim Guy Tucker, we go to the White House.  The president was called as a defense witness, we, the prosecution did not call him as a witness and so, there we are at the White House.  A distinguished judge was a veteran of the Civil Rights Movement.  He had gone to segregated schools in Arkansas, and a great and good man who tilted toward the defense, but that was good for us in the long run.  He was presiding from Little Rock.  So, there he is, he’s on the television screen, but we’re, once again in the map room, and we end up having the following scene.  The president testifies, and Jim McDougal puts his hand on his cane.  He was ill and refuses to look at the president, and they were friends.  They were political allies who were business partners in the like, and when asked, Jim, why did you do that, because I saw the president of the united states commit perjury in the map room which was to him, absolute sacred ground. 

In that same trial, then on cross-examination, we asked about the so-called jogging incident, and Bill had denied that he had had anything to do–the president, I don’t mean disrespect, the president had denied that he had anything whatsoever to do–with the fact that Hillary represented Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan.  Now Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan collapsed, filled with fraud, fraudulent transactions including the transactions financing the Whitewater Land Company, and the testimony that we had credited was to this effect.  On a hot summer day, Bill Clinton, as was his want at the time, would jog around the streets of Little Rock, and Madison Guaranty was not terribly far from the governor’s mansion.  We heard from Governor Huckabee. 

He could affirm.  Yeah, it’s just down the street a bit, but he goes in to Jim’s office at Madison Guaranty, plops into a brand-new chair designed for the clients to come in and visit, talk about their transactions with the banks, and he’s totally sweating, right?  So, McDougal is outraged.  Here’s the sweaty governor plopping down, putting his feet up on the desk and so forth, making himself right at home, and he said in his charming way, Jim he needs some legal business and you think maybe you could switch your lawyers to small-town Jim Guy Tucker’s law firm.  You think maybe you could switch this over to the Rose law firm?  It would really be nice of you to do that.  Well, Jim did not want to do it.  He, of course, knew the first lady.  They were business partners, but he did not want to do it.  He loved Jim Guy, but he did.  Okay, so we asked during our early depositions to the president, now do you recall what Jim McDougal calls the jogging incident?  He says, well, I just can’t recall that.  No, I don’t recall.  He was very emphatic that he didn’t recall that.  So, that’s when my lead prosecutor, **** Jr., he’s a Vietnam veteran himself, and a career prosecutor said, I knew at that point, he was a lying dog.  Those were his words.  It’s very disrespectful, but that was Hickman, who is from Memphis, Vandy, go commodores, he was convinced, as an experienced trial lawyer, that was the moment he said Bill Clinton, and he’s willing to lie under oath.  In the fullest time, in that trial itself, Jim McDougal is sitting there.  The president didn’t only get across purposes with the defendant in the criminal trial itself, and he said well, I don’t really recall that, but at the same time, I don’t want to contradict Jim, his good friend, right?  So, we just knew that the president’s mendacity knew no end. 

Tapson: Speaking of your team members… I want to try to squeeze this question in because I think everybody would be interested to hear your opinion of another team member of yours, Brett Kavanaugh. 

Starr: Oh, a great man. 

Tapson: Can you give your opinion of him?  Also, what kind of a Supreme Court justice you’ll think he’ll be. 

Starr:  Oh, he’s already making his mark.  He’s so fully prepared.  He’s a very hard worker.  He’s a very brilliant guy, as everybody would conceive that, but he’s a prodigiously hard worker, and he goes the extra mile.  So, he was the principal architect of the Vince Foster death report.  So, that was phase one, and then oh, people are getting up and walking out but, and I’m happy to discuss that afterwards, but he also, was then the principal architect of the impeachment referral, the legal analysis part.  He didn’t do the fact part that had all of the facts that were so criticized, but on that score, Mark, I knew listening to my career prosecutors, we had to prove our case, that the president committed perjury and obstructed justice and intimidated witnesses. 

The only way we could do that, to prove that, and we felt that we had a moral obligation to the American people because we were to report this in contrast to what Bob Mueller has.  Bob Mueller, as we have already discussed, does not have to send a report to the American people.  We’ll probably see his report, but his report under the regulations are to the attorney general, now acting Attorney General Whitaker.  That’s the current structure.  With the structure we had, of course, was to report to the congress, and we knew we had to prove our case, but in any event, Brett Kavanaugh will be a great justice as he was a great great colleague and by the way, as I have said any number of times in the popular media in light of the controversy, leaving aside last night, did you enjoy last night’s rather hilarious, that was astonishing, but I actually had not one word to criticize Dr. Ford.  What I have said is Brett Kavanaugh is an honest guy, total credibility, and there is no corroboration with the choice to begin with, but what you have is a record year after year and the decade after decade of honorable honest service with great distinction under a variety of circumstances.  That character tends to manifest itself don’t you think?  Yeah, bad character manifests itself. 

Tapson: Speaking of the Supreme Court, you yourself were nearly nominated for it by George Bush the elder.  You were considered, though, by some to be not conservative enough.  You came in second to David Souter, and he even told someone privately, “I have the Starr seat.” Is that a missed opportunity that you regret or maybe after seeing what Brett Kavanaugh went through, are you perhaps relieved, in retrospect? 

Starr: No, I think we live in a different age now because remember Ruth Ginsburg got 90 plus percent of the vote, right?  I mean 90 plus votes in the United States Senate and Mitch McConnell has said are we grateful to Mitch McConnell for what he did?  That his decision, that there would not be a hearing on a very evidentially qualified person, Chief Judge Marlon of my old court has privilege to serve on that court.  I’ve argued in front of Mary Garland.  I knew he was a lawyer and reporter.  He’s of first grade mind and so forth, but by the way, he would not be chosen by Donald Trump and so, Mitch McConnell made that determination.  So, yeah, I came in second, and then Attorney General Dick Thornburgh said Ken, there will probably be another seat, and it was sort of no promises, no representation.  I said I’m very thankful to be the solicitor general.  I loved being, as you know, governor.  He was the governor of Pennsylvania.  We always called him governor even though he’s attorney general governor.  I am very honored to serve as solicitor general.  So, I will just go back to my office, but I was deeply disappointed because, yeah, every lawyer, and I served as a law clerk in the supreme court.  I’ve argued 36 cases in the supreme court.  So, would I have been honored to serve?  Yes, but it was not to be.  I needed to go back to the prune book and not to the plumb book.

Tapson: I don’t mean to jump around so much, but I’d like to go back to what you referred to earlier when you said that the whole Clinton investigation was a very difficult time for you, and I’d like to draw out a little more about just how difficult it was, because I think people tend to forget that once you accepted that job, the media onslaught against your reputation and your motives really took off things, especially thanks to smear merchants like James Carville and Sidney Blumenthal, and you were viewed as a partisan hitman, part of the “vast right-wing conspiracy,” as Hillary called it.  So, the opposition’s narrative was that you were the bad guy, not Bill Clinton, not the charming charismatic president. 

Starr: Yeah. 

Tapson: And one of the indignities you suffered was Michael Moore showing up at your house with a crowd of protestors harassing you.  How difficult was it to deal with that kind of personal and professional targeting? 

Starr: That was really down at the depths, and Michael Moore is Michael, but to show up with this crowd of actors and so, these were the good ladies and a couple of men actors.  They were all out of New York, we found out, and so, he was doing a film for Bravo on what a witch hunt this was and so, they were dressed in the appropriate 17th Century garb and so, they were out for a witch hunt and so, our then eighth grader, was really quite terrorized by this.  She’s fine, but that’s just an example, and here sometimes law enforcement gets it really wrong.  So, I get into the vehicle.  I was 24‑hour protection.  So, I go outside the house, say good-bye, and hopped into the marshal’s vehicle, and we go away, and I said to my wonderful head deputy, Shane, contact Fairfax County Law Enforcement because I’ll be you a nickel, they don’t have a permit, and you need a permit. 

I mean, this is a private residential neighborhood and so forth, to do what they had done.  They terrorized a neighbor who had came out and just said what are you all doing?  She, by the way, happens to be the mom of Kevin Hogan, the NFL quarterback, and little Kevin was our across-the-street neighbor.  We had a great great street.  Lots of fun.  Lots of talented people and so, in any event, the word comes back.  Well, they have a first-amendment right to do that, and I said Shane, tell them to double check.  The first amendment still contemplates a permit before you go disrupt a neighborhood.  People can take preparations and so on and so forth and eventually, some of those characters got arrested because they entered congressional offices to go storming in and by the way, I think that’s one of the things we need. 

I’m going to start hammering here because one of the themes of this is fight back.  As a college university president, I believe strongly, and Baylor’s just a different kind of place.  No one’s going to be shouted down.  It’s just not the nature of the place.  That we believe in stability.  It’s a Christian university.  Treat people with kindness even if you disagree with them and so forth.  Zero tolerance for this and don’t you want colleges and universities to show some backbone and say how about as, and this is not a partisan point, because here is this, some years ago, remember the disruption of the 60s? 

When Governor Terry Stanford becomes president of Duke University, the then governor of education and democrat, he ran for the democrat nomination for president in 1976, and he meets with these student activists who had occupied the Allan Building, the administration building and so forth, and he said in his very kindly North Carolina way, he said no, I believe, as a lawyer, and elected official as governor of North Carolina, I believe strongly in the first amendment and so, we want to find ways for you to express your views, but by the way, if you violate any of the rules of the university, including disrupting any of our classes, you will instantly no longer be studying at Duke University.  Now how about that?  Now that came from a soft-spoken guy, but he just said these are the rules, and it just grieves me to see the Ann Colter’s and so forth essentially.  So, why am I telling about this?  Because, we need to interpret the constitution sensibly and not treat it as Robert Jackson said, the constitution is not a suicide pact. 

Tapson: I think we’re almost ready for questions and answers.  We’ve got time for a couple.  I’m just going to make a quick announcement.  When this panel is done, Geert Wilders is coming in about an hour and half or maybe 2 hours.  So, after, we’re going to take a 15‑minute break at the end of this.  We have to clear the room which means please take bags, purses, or whatever else, phones.  Do not leave anything.  If you’ve been saving a place for the bag, we have to basically clear the room.  Pencils are okay, but any bags and all of us have to clear the room for 15 minutes, but you don’t have to do that yet.  We’re going to take a few questions. 

Starr: As we’re waiting for questions, let me just say, and Alison please remind them, Mark, please, in the Wall Street Journal, it says Hillary is running again in 2020, and she’s convinced that she’s going to win.  Okay, I know.  Maybe it’s crazy and so forth, but crazy like the fox and so, this is from Alice Starr.  Tell them to read the book, but more importantly, for their liberal friends to read the book because if they read this book, they will not support Hillary Rodham Clinton.  Now you say, well, easy to say that, but my quick story and I’ll make this very quick, I have a wonderful publisher, and the publisher told me that their in-house liberal liable and a lawyer came in, and said I do not want to read this book, came in later and said I did not want to read this book, but I needed to read this book, and I’m glad that I did.  I think it shed some light on the character, not just of Bill Clinton, but of Hillary Clinton. 

Audience Question: Yes, Mr. Starr.  You’ve talked about some of the crimes of the Clintons.  What I’d like to ask you, is some of the crimes that we hear about.  For instance, Vince Foster, Ron Brown, the journalist that commits suicide when she’s investigating the Clintons.  I recently saw a list of some 50 of these untimely deaths that followed the Clintons, and I don’t, for a minute, think that they’re involved in all of them. 

Starr:  That’s very kind of you.  That is correct. 

Audience Question: But, my question to you is do you think they were involved in some of them? 

Starr: That I honestly don’t know.  I’m a facts guy.  The facts then illuminate what is the law.  So, I do not know the answer to that, but I do know this, Vince Foster Jr. did commit suicide.  To me, the issue was he murdered or not, deflected from to me the true issue is why did he commit suicide?  It deflected us because I believe, read the book, that he was involved collaboratively with Hillary in the obstruction of justice. 

Audience Question: My memory recalls that during that session back then, that Clinton was taking away from the Chinese in favor of our secrets for security and other things.  Somehow, that got pushed under the table, and it became a sex thing.  Whatever happened is a very important thing about not selling secrets to the Chinese. 

Starr: Yeah, no.  It was not a sex scandal.  If I may remonstrate, it was about the rule of law.  It had to do with perjury, intimidating witnesses, obstructing justice and so forth, but forgive me for being unkind.  You’re absolutely right.  It was pushed under the rug. We don’t want prosecutors to just go out and look at anything and everything.  They should have a mandate.  The mandate should be clear.  We heard from Victoria to that effect and her closing remarks today, in terms of his mandate.  So, now, what happened was there were numerous calls for the appointment of an independent counsel in connections with illicit Chinese funding of the 96th re-election campaign of Bill Clinton, and this is where, I believe, Janet Reno started departing from the straight and the narrow path because she refused, even when her own special counsel to advise her, not a special prosecutor, Charles Labella, a very respected career prosecutor was brought in from San Diego U.S. Attorney’s office.  Chuck, what do you think, or Charles, and Charles said after a couple of weeks, you need to appoint an independent counsel.  Ditto from the director of the FBI, we heard a lot of criticism of James Comby.  I had the greatest support form Louie Free, a man of great honor and integrity, throughout the investigation.  Louie Free said Attorney General Reno, you need to appoint an independent counsel.  The Hill called on her to appoint an independent counsel.  She never did, and she got away with it. 

Audience Question: There’s a lot of controversy about how far Bob Mueller’s taking his investigation outside of his original mandate.  Can you speak to what the mandate is as it’s written?  What it can become?  Does it just demand an authorization from DOJ?  You were different than Bob Mueller.  You were independent counsel. So, and is there a structural problem with this process going forward that needs to be fixed or what do you think of Bob Mueller? 

Starr: The word that we kept hearing today, including from Congressman Gomer of accountability, accountability.  So, it’s not going to give this audience satisfaction, but Mueller is accountable now to Whitaker.  He’s accountable.  Whitaker now controls the mandate.  Justice Rosenstein who served with honor in my day as a member of my trial team that convicted Jim Guy Tucker and James and Susan McDougal, so I know Rod to be, from my experience, a person of integrity, but I have no information about the things including that Dan Mangino said so powerfully just earlier.  So, that’s the check.  That’s the check of accountability.  Mueller cannot go where he simply thinks he should go without consulting with and getting the approval of the interim attorney general now.  That’s the check, and that’s the balance.  Again, for me, it was the attorney general of the United States, the goes we didn’t get into this, we just didn’t have time to the special division of the U.S. Court of Appeals that then says, yes.  Starr, you should investigate the Monica Lewinsky matter.  So, it wasn’t, and this is the way the Clinton White House was so effective, and their friends in the media, in saying it’s just a sex scandal.  Starr found nothing in Little Rock.  Wrong.  Fourteen criminal convictions including the city governor of the states.  I mean it was just a lie.  He found nothing in Little Rock, and we of course seriously considered the indictment of Hillary Rodham Clinton for her financial climes.  That we felt that she was involved in, but we, as I said earlier, we just did not have the evidence that ethically we could bring that forward, but there are checks and balances, and there are points of accountability. 

No one is operating with no accountability whatsoever.  Now I do note, finally, that Rod Rosenstein has testified several times before different committees, and I would say this because we’ve had a little bit of doom and gloom and yet the hope for cosmic justice.  Well, I would say on earth, let’s look to the Hill because we got Lindsey Graham coming in as the senate judiciary committee chair, and I know Lindsey Graham.  Lindsey Graham was a house impeachment matter.  He had shows, no fear nor favor.  He will go after the truth.  So, let’s hope that in the new Congress, and I don’t mean any criticism of Charles Grassley. He’s done a brilliant job in so many ways, but Chuck Grassley is a great human being who’s a farmer.  Lindsey Graham is a trial lawyer.  He knows how to take on witnesses.  He also knows how to take on the democrats. 

Tapson: Thank you, Kenneth Starr.