Kenneth Winston Starr, the former U.S. attorney general who rose to global fame in the 1990s as an independent counsel who doggedly investigated President Bill Clinton during a series of political scandals, has died. He was 76 years old.
Starr died of complications from surgery, according to a statement from his family.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of our dear and loving Father and Grandfather, whom we admired for his incredible work ethic, but who always put his family first. The love, energy, loving sense of humor and fun interest Dad showed each of us was truly special, and we cherish the many wonderful memories we had with him,” Starr’s son, Randall, said in a statement on behalf of his children.
Starr, who was a member of former President Donald Trump’s defense team during Trump’s first impeachment, also served as president of Baylor University from 2010 to 2016. such as Baylor flourishing,” Baylor President Linda Livingston said in a statement Tuesday.
A conservative Republican, Starr’s investigations into Clinton began in 1994 when a federal appeals panel appointed him as an independent counsel to investigate the then-president and Hillary Clinton’s involvement in the Whitewater real estate scandal. The Clintons were ultimately not convicted in the case, but Starr’s investigation into the Clintons’ dealings later expanded to include allegations of sexual harassment by Paula Jones, which led to an investigation into President Starr’s affair with Monica Lewinsky.
The Lewinsky affair ultimately led to Clinton’s impeachment on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice to a federal grand jury, although she was acquitted by the Senate in February 1999 and served the remainder of her term.
The scandal dominated Washington and much of the media for more than a year, and Starr and Clinton were named Time’s Men of the Year in 1998. Starr’s investigation was seen as a reflection of an era of increasingly bitter partisanship along with a tabloid. like the interest in the personal lives of politicians. In particular, Starr’s report to Congress on the affair was criticized for containing many salacious details about the sexual relationship between Clinton and Lewinsky.
Starr dismissed allegations that his pursuit of Clinton was politically motivated.
“I was assigned a job by the attorney general, and that was to find out whether or not crimes were committed in this (Paula Jones) sexual harassment case,” Starr said at the time. “The whole idea of equal justice under the law means you have to play by the rules. It has nothing to do with the underlying issue. You just tell the truth.’
He resigned as independent counsel in October 1999, citing “intense politicization of the independent counsel process.”
Starr married his wife, Alice, in 1970, and they are survived by three children.
Born in Vernon, Texas on July 21, 1946, Starr attended Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas and transferred to George Washington University, where he graduated in 1968 with a degree in history. He graduated from Brown University with a master’s degree in politics. Science in 1969 and received a law degree from Duke University School of Law in 1973. After law school, Starr clerked for Fifth Circuit Judge David W. Dyer and Judge Warren E. Burger before working at the Los Angeles law firm of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher. .
After serving on President Ronald Reagan’s transition team, in 1981 he became counsel to US Attorney General William French Smith. Then, in 1983, he was nominated by Reagan and confirmed by the Senate as a federal judge to the US Court of Appeals. District of Columbia. After serving as a federal judge, he was appointed by President George HW Bush to be US attorney general in 1989, and argued 25 cases before the Supreme Court, according to the Department of Justice. In 1993, he returned to private practice working at the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis in Chicago.
Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who worked under Starr on Smith’s staff and as his deputy as attorney general, said Tuesday: “Ken loved our country and served it with dedication and distinction. He led by example, in law, in public service. and in the community.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell v. McConnell He remembered Starr, who served as the FEC’s chief counsel, as a “brilliant litigator, visionary leader and passionate patriot.”
“Through his distinguished service on the D.C. Circuit, as Solicitor General, as independent counsel and beyond, Ken poured his considerable energy and talents into promoting justice, defending the Constitution and defending the rule of law,” said the Kentucky Republican.
Starr was part of Jeffrey Epstein’s legal team when he struck a deal in 2008 that immunized the alleged pedophile from federal prosecution. He also represented US contractor Blackwater, who was accused of war crimes for killing civilians in Fallujah during the Iraq War. In 2014, four former Blackwater contractors were found guilty and sentenced to lengthy prison terms, although Trump pardoned them in 2020.
Outside of his legal career, Starr was dean and professor at Pepperdine University School of Law from 2004 to 2010. He was also the president of Baylor University, but was fired after an independent investigation showed a “fundamental failure” to adequately address student gender. allegations of assault
Starr returned to the public eye in 2020 when Trump asked him to join his legal team to argue for his acquittal in the first Senate impeachment trial. The choice inevitably brought back memories of another era, when Washington was consumed with impeachment investigations, when Beltway politics were tougher and when a president with a troubled personal life and a penchant for dominating the media was in office.
This story was updated with additional details on Tuesday.