Starr still investigating, despite midnight expiration of IC statute
Arkansas portion of probe concluded
June 30, 1999
Web posted at: 3:30 p.m. EDT (1930 GMT)
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, June 30) -- The Independent Counsel law expires at the stroke of midnight Wednesday, but that does not mean Whitewater prosecutor Ken Starr, or the other four ongoing probes, immediately go away. In fact, Starr said Wednesday there are still two ongoing aspects of his investigation.
Mindful of the expiration of the statute that gave him his job, Starr said that his office is wrapping up as quickly as possible and that the Arkansas phase of his investigation is now complete.
Starr's Little Rock probe, that began with the Whitewater land deal, concluded with the guilty pleas of Clinton friend and former Associate Attorney General Webster Hubbell that were part of a plea agreement with the independent counsel's office. (Full story)
"These matters have been going on for a considerable period of time and it is in the public interest, we believe, to find an appropriate and we believe just disposition of these matters and to try to bring our work to as orderly a conclusion as possible," Starr told reporters following the court appearance.
The two remaining areas of investigation involve Starr's Washington operation, which has focused primarily on matters resulting from the Monica Lewinsky affair. Starr would not elaborate on the subject of those two remaining pieces or on whether Bill or Hillary Clinton are in any legal jeopardy.
"While we are trying to complete the entirety of our work, there are two aspects of our investigation that are still ongoing. We are mindful of the expiration of the statute and we're seeking to bring matters to an orderly completion, whatever that completion may be," Starr said.
Once the investigations are finished, Starr said he still must fulfill the law's requirement for a final report.
The Whitewater-related investigation is not the only probe still active as of the independent counsel law's expiration. The subjects of the other ongoing investigations include current and former Clinton Administration officials, Bruce Babbitt, Alexis Herman, Henry Cisneros and Mike Espy.
Interior Secretary Babbitt made his first appearance Wednesday before the grand jury hearing evidence in the special investigation into whether campaign funds influenced his department's 1995 decision to reject an Indian casino in Wisconsin.
The move signals that Independent Counsel Carol Elder Bruce's 14-month investigation is also moving toward a conclusion.
The Independent Counsel Act has been surrounded by controversy since its 1978 inception, and this year there was a consensus on Capitol Hill to allow the law to expire.
Starr and Attorney General Janet Reno were among the chorus calling on Congress not to renew the statute. The act was born out of the Watergate era but critics say it failed to achieve its goal of protecting high-level probes from charges of political partisanship.
With the statute's demise, the authority to appoint special prosecutors will revert back to the Justice Department and no more independent counsels will be appointed.