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Investigating the President

 Lewinsky Meets With Independent Counsel's Office (07-27-98)

 Starr Subpoenas Clinton To Appear Before Grand Jury (07-25-98)

 Lead Secret Service Agent Testifies (07-23-98)

 Starr Appeals Judge's Sanctions Over Leaks (07-21-98)

 Secret Service Agents Give Grand Jury Testimony (07-17-98)

 Justice Appeals Secret Service Dispute To Supreme Court (07-16-98)

 Starr, Justice Face Off Over New Secret Service Subpoenas (07-15-98)

 Secret Service Must Testify, Appeals Court Rules (07-07-98)

 Day Two Of Tripp Grand Jury Testimony (07-02-98)

 More Stories


Documents

 Text Of Chief Justice Rehnquist's Order Denying Secret Service Stay (7-17-98)

 Documents From Secret Service Privilege Case (05-20-98)


Timeline/Players

 Tripp: No Stranger To Controversy

 Who Are Plato Cacheris And Jacob Stein?

 A Chronology: Key Moments In The Clinton-Lewinsky Scandal

 Cast of Characters In The Clinton-Lewinsky Scandal


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Analysis: Starr Faced Setbacks In June, Looks For Turnaround In July

By Kathleen Hayden

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, July 3) -- Ken Starr has had better weeks. The dismissal Wednesday of his tax evasion charges against presidential pal Webster Hubbell was just the latest in a string of high profile setbacks for the independent counsel and his prosecutors .

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However, Starr may still be in the legal win-column, as recent defeats come on the heels of a previous wave of victories. And some critical rulings on several ongoing disputes, including the testimony of presidential confidant Bruce Lindsey and Secret Service employees, are expected over the next month.

But even if his legal probes into Whitewater, the White House Travel Office firings and, of course, the Monica Lewinsky matter do not suffer badly, Starr's efforts to rehabilitate his image have been made all the more difficult. For an unpopular prosecutor investigating a popular president the greatest defense is to have the law on your side: During June, Starr could not make that claim.

While it is still unclear what implications the month's losses could have on the overall investigaton, the short-term legal implications may be serious.

The Supreme Court disappointed Starr twice in June. First, the justices refused to expedite hearings on the Lindsey and Secret Service testimony disputes. Their decision likely delays the final resolution of both cases because the appeals are expected to end up back with the high court, which does not resume business until October.

And then in a ruling last week, the court rejected the independent counsel's request for access to notes taken by the lawyer of late White House deputy counsel Vince Foster days before Foster's 1993 suicide.

While a defeat from the highest court in the land can leave any lawyer red-faced, the justices' decision also leaves Starr noteless.

In court filings, he had made clear how important the Foster documents were to his probe of first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton's role in the travel office firings. Without those notes, Starr will have to start digging again for the information Foster took to the grave.

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On the same day as the Foster ruling, Whitewater figure Susan McDougal was released early from prison, with her Whitewater-related sentence reduced to time served.

Starr wanted to keep her in prison to force her into cooperating with his investigation of the Clintons. Though McDougal's continued refusal to testify throughout her 18-month contempt sentence left the independent counsel little hope she would turn on the Clintons, any leverage Starr might have held over her evaporated when McDougal became a free woman.

The dismissal of the Hubbell charges was another strategic loss of a potential witness. The former Justice Department official and law partner of Mrs. Clinton had accused Starr of filing the indictment to pressure Hubbell into falsely incriminating the Clintons. Any such pressure is now also gone.

Of all the cases though, the Hubbell dismissal is the most stinging blow because U.S. District Judge James Robertson's decision was a judicial slap on the wrist for the legal tactics of Starr's office, rather than a commentary on the merits of the case.

During the hearing on the motion to dismiss, Robertson at one point characterized the prosecutor's legal reasoning on Fifth Amendment issues as "scary." Three days later, the judge issued an opinion rebuking the independent counsel for overstepping his authority with a "quintessential fishing trip."

The good news for Starr is that previous to last month's setbacks, he was doing pretty well.

Importantly, Starr has fared particularly well with the judge overseeing his Washington grand jury.

U.S. District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson has routinely sided with Starr, ruling against President Bill Clinton's claim of executive privilege, the Secret Service's claim of a "protective function privilege" and the claim by former attorney for Lewinsky, Bill Ginsburg, that an immunity agreement for the former White House intern had been reached.

But the legal defeats could damage Starr most in the all-important court of public opinion. In the spin war with the White House, Starr has been trying to battle his increasingly negative image as a prosecutor out of control who is out to get the president.

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The latest CNN/TIME poll released Thursday indicates that effort is failing. The survey shows that the number of Americans with unfavorable impressions of Starr has grown from 42 percent in March to 51 percent in June. And only 31 percent polled feel that Starr has acted responsibly during the probe.

The public's opinion of Starr will factor into Congress' consideration of any report the independent counsel sends up to Capitol Hill. And it is the Congress who will be Clinton's final prosecutor and jury.

The string of setbacks could also leave Starr more vulnerable in his ongoing immunity negotiations with Lewinsky's new, and more Washington-savvy, lawyers. Attorneys Plato Cacheris and Jacob Stein may now be less willing to give into the independent counsel's desire for specific admissions and guilty pleas in exchange for immunity.

But the grand jury is still out on Starr and Lewinsky. Linda Tripp's first appearance before the Washington based panel turned up the heat on the Lewinsky team and the appeals court is still pondering the Lindsey and Secret Service privilege claims. Starr can only hope that July of 1998 does more to turn the tide of public opinion and legal advantage against the president then July of 1997. Remember those Senate campaign finance hearings?

In Other News

Friday, July 3, 1998

Albright Stops In Tokyo After China Visit To Reassure Japanese
Clinton Not Following Through On AIDS Pledges, Activists Say

Starr's Wins

February 10 -- Lewinsky's mother, Marcia Lewis, appears before the grand jury after her attempts to throw out her subpoena fail.

March 25 -- Lewis fails to persuade the court to excuse her from a third day of testimony.

April 29 -- Judge Johnson rules that Lewinsky is not protected by an immunity agreement with the prosecution.

April 30 -- Hubbell and his wife are indicted by the grand jury on tax evasion charges in the Whitewater investigation.

May 4 -- McDougal is indicted on charges of contempt of court and obstruction of justice by Whitewater grand jury in Arkansas.

May 5 -- Judge Johnson rules that Clinton Administration may not invoke executive privilege in the Whitewater case.

May 5 -- Judge Johnson rules that Lindsey's communications with the president are not protected by attorney-client privilege, on the grounds that he is a government employee and not a personal attorney.

May 22 -- Judge Johnson rules Secret Service personnel must testify in the Lewinsky case, deciding that the service's "protective function privilege" does not protect Secret Service personnel from testifying.

June 1 -- Clinton's defense team drop their executive privilege appeal but continue to argue attorney-client privilege for Lindsey.

June 5 -- The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sets a June 15 deadline for the White House to file appeals of the executive privilege and Secret Service testimony decisions.

June 5 -- Judge Johnson rules that Lewinsky's book purchases at Kramer Books do have a bearing on the case and can be subpoenaed as evidence.

June 18 -- Francis Carter, Lewinsky's first lawyer, appears before the grand jury at the order of Judge Johnson. Carter had fought his subpoena, arguing attorney-client privilege.

June 24 -- The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rules that Connecticut lawyer Frank Mandanici may not oust Starr for purported conflicts of interest.

Starr's Losses

March 9 -- Judge Wright refuses to allow evidence pointing to a relationship between Lewinsky and Clinton in the Jones trial.

April 1 -- Judge Wright grants Clinton's request for "summary judgement" in the Jones case, determining that her allegations did not meet the definition of sexual harassment. Lewinsky's testimony in the Jones case helped to trigger Starr's investigation into her relationship with Clinton.

June 4 -- The Supreme Court denies Starr's requests to expedite a ruling on attorney-client privilege and Secret Service testimony. Starr filed for expedition in an attempt to circumvent White House appeals on decisions handed down by Judge Johnson.

June 25 -- The Supreme Court rules that attorney-client privilege extends past death, barring Starr from requesting Foster's attorney's notes on their last meetings.

June 25 -- Judge Howard releases McDougal from federal custody on medical grounds and reduces her prison term to time served.

July 1 -- Judge Robertson rules that Starr may not pursue tax evasion charges against Hubbell. Starr filed the charges based on evidence contained in records Hubbell submitted to the prosecution in return for immunity.


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