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Anti-Starr protesters rally in Washington

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Oct. 24) -- More than 100 people rallied in Washington Saturday afternoon to protest Independent Counsel Ken Starr's investigation of President Bill Clinton and his relationship with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

But Starr wasn't there to hear them -- he was in Minnesota telling a legal seminar that the needs of the criminal justice system should outweigh a president's right to keep information shared with aides secret.

That argument would not have carried much weight with the anti-Starr protesters, whose rally was organized over the Internet.

"Whether it is premarital, marital, extramarital or post-marital, a man and a woman don't talk to other people about their sexual relationship," said Robert Weiner, chief of press relations at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, who addressed the protest.

"It's not perjury, and it's not obstruction, and it's not subornation -- its common decency, which no court in America other than Ken Starr's would prosecute," Weiner said.

Weiner was subpoenaed by Starr during the course of his investigation. He urged those at the rally to vote for Democratic candidates in November, denouncing House impeachment proceedings as the "McCarthy hearings of our era."

Underscoring that point, Gary "Bats" Pelphrey was on the list of speakers for Saturday's rally. He is the Democratic candidate in Georgia's 6th U.S. House District -- currently held by Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

In Minneapolis, Starr was part of a panel of legal experts dissecting the case of the United States vs. Richard Nixon, the 1974 Supreme Court decision that curbed claims of executive privilege and forced Nixon to release the famous tapes that led to his resignation.

In his first public appearance since his report to the House was released September 11, Starr did not refer directly to his investigation of the president. But he has fought executive privilege claims by Clinton, using the Nixon case as precedent.

Starr said presidents must put the public's interest over their own when deciding whether to use the doctrine of executive privilege to keep information secret.

"This principle demands respectful treatment and thoughtful invocation by the executive," Starr said. "It should not be abused."

He paraphrased a letter written by Supreme Court Justice Byron White during the Nixon case, which stated that "the needs of the criminal justice system are paramount, and they should carry the day."


Investigating the President

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Saturday, October 24, 1998

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