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 TIME on politics TIME CNN/AllPolitics CNN/AllPolitics - Storypage, with TIME and TIME

Starr says he should have been more informative during probe

December 19, 1999
Web posted at: 8:56 p.m. EST (0156 GMT)

In this story:

Time gap has become focus of Tripp case

Starr says he should have cautioned House members

House prosecutor also admits errors

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- On the anniversary of President Clinton's impeachment, former Special Counsel Kenneth Starr said that during his investigation he should have shared more information -- with the House of Representatives and with the public.

Starr also said that Linda Tripp's federal immunity deal will protect her from Maryland wire-tapping charges.

"Our understanding of the law, and this is going to remain in dispute, is that there was immunity in place," Starr said Sunday on CNN's "Late Edition" with Wolf Blitzer.

Tripp has been charged with violating Maryland privacy laws by secretly recording phone conversations with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

Starr said he should have helped the public better understand the charges against Clinton  

Time gap has become focus of Tripp case

There is a gap of about one month between the time Starr's office granted Tripp immunity and when it actually filed an order reflecting that. It is that gap that has become the focus of the case.

On Sunday, Starr said the date on which the agreement was actually filed was simply "administerial."

But last week, a Maryland judge disagreed and ruled that Tripp was not protected by immunity, and set a trial date.

Starr said he expects the final decision to be made by an appeals court.

Starr says he should have cautioned House members

The former special counsel, who often rushed past cameras with a curt "no comment," expressed regrets Sunday about how he dealt with the media during the investigation.

"I think it was a mistake not to be informing the American public of certain basic facts and to reiterate those facts," Starr said.

"Namely, that our investigation was authorized by the attorney general of the United States, and that the Justice Department had the information that we had with respect to serious possible federal offenses," Starr said.

And Starr also admitted errors in communication with the House of Representatives, saying he should have cautioned House members about the release of his report because of the salacious material it contained.

"I could have done more to say this is privacy-sensitive material that we felt was important for the elected representatives to have." Starr said.

"At the same time, this was a judgment made based on a very broad bipartisan sense that the American public needed to have this information and they needed to have it immediately," said Starr.

House prosecutor also admits errors

Also appearing on "Late Edition," was Rep. Asa Hutchinson, R- Arkansas, a House prosecutor for the Clinton impeachment trial in the Senate.

He joined Starr in admitting some errors in judgment. "We made some mistakes, probably publicly releasing the videotaped deposition (of Clinton) before it was used as evidence. That came across as heavy handed," Hutchinson said.

He also said releasing the Starr report, which in some instances included graphic descriptions of Lewinsky's sexual encounters with Clinton, was a mistake.

"We should have been more careful as far as releasing that," Hutchinson said.



The Starr Report
Investigating The President: Past Impeachments
Starr puts first lady on witness list for Hubbell trial (6-23-99)

Hatch demands conclusion to Justice probe of Starr (6-17-99)

Starr: Independent Counsel Act should not be renewed (4-14-99)

Clinton's contempt citation not a surprise to many (4-13-99)


Closed-door statements of senators

Full text of the articles of impeachment

Starr report or use the interactive guide


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