Ken Starr, Prosecutor Who Led Bill Clinton Whitewater Investigation, Dies at 76

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Ken Starr, a former judge and lawyer best known for heading up the Whitewater investigation that led to the 1998 impeachment of then-president Bill Clinton, died Tuesday at age 76.

Starr’s death was confirmed in a statement from his family and Baylor University, where he served as president from 2010 to 2016.

The Texas native most recently served as one of former president Donald Trump’s personal lawyers during his second impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate in February 2021.

But the longtime lawyer is most associated with the impeachment of Clinton following his stint as independent counsel to initially investigate a failed Arkansas real estate investment by Bill and Hillary Clinton with business associates who were also tied to a failed savings and loan.

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Starr, a former federal appellate judge who had also served as President George H. W. Bush’s solicitor general, soon expanded his inquiry into other matters, including the death by suicide of deputy White House counsel Vince Foster, the firing of staffers in the White House travel office, Paula Jones’ sexual harassment lawsuit against Bill Clinton and eventually the president’s affair with intern Monica Lewinsky.

It was the Lewinsky matter — and the president’s insistence in a sworn deposition that he did not have “sexual relations” with the young staffer — that eventually led Starr to conclude that Clinton had committed perjury. (In a later statement to Starr’s grand jury, the president said that he believed the definition of “sexual relations” set forward in the deposition did not include receiving oral sex.)

Starr’s investigation led to the 1998 impeachment of Clinton, who was acquitted the following February following a trial in the U.S. Senate as all 45 Democrats and 10 Republicans voted in the president’s favor.

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One of Starr’s deputies on the investigation, Brett Kavanaugh, was later appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Following his term as independent counsel, Starr served as president of Baylor University and continued to take on select legal cases. He represented the private military company Blackwater in a suit over the 2004 death of four unarmed civilians in Fallujah, Iraq; argued to uphold a 2008 California ballot measure that would have banned same-sex marriages in that state; and joined the 2007 defense team for billionaire Jeffrey Epstein on Florida statutory rape charges involving numerous underage girls.