Ken Starr, a member of US President Donald Trump’s legal team, exits the US Capitol in Washington, DC on Monday, February 3, 2020.
Amanda Andrade Rhoades | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Ken Starr, who led the Whitewater investigation into former President Bill Clinton, died Tuesday at the age of 76, his family said in a statement.
Starr died in Houston as a result of complications from surgery, the statement said.
Starr was nominated by former President Ronald Reagan for a seat on the US Circuit Court of Appeals for Washington, DC, and served as US Attorney General under then-President George HW Bush.
He was also dean of Pepperdine University School of Law and president of Baylor University, a tenure that ended in 2016 following an investigation into the school’s abuse of sexual assault cases.
But he’s best known for leading Whitewater, the wide-ranging investigation that began as an investigation into real estate investments by then-President Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton but expanded into numerous other areas — including the infamous Monica Lewinsky sex scandal.
That scandal involved the President’s extramarital affair with Lewinsky, which began when she was a 24-year-old White House intern.
Clinton, who falsely denied the relationship, was charged by the House of Representatives with perjury and obstruction of justice arising out of the scandal. The Senate later acquitted Clinton of all charges.
Starr was appointed independent counsel in 1994 to investigate Whitewater in what began as an investigation into the aftermath of a failed Arkansas land development deal pursued by the Clintons and their associates years before Bill Clinton took office.
Starr’s broad investigation also touched on the death of Clinton’s Assistant White House Counsel Vince Foster, which sparked intrigue and spawned conspiracy theories but was ultimately ruled a suicide.
Several people involved in the Whitewater scandal were convicted on charges related to the investigation, but the Clintons themselves have never been criminally charged.
Starr reportedly assisted the defense team that struck a deal to save Jeffrey Epstein, the wealthy sex offender and accused sex trafficker, from serious federal charges. Critics called this non-prosecution agreement a “sweetheart deal”. Epstein committed suicide in 2019, a month after he was arrested and charged in New York with molesting dozens of underage girls.
More recently, in early 2020, Starr joined the legal team that defended former President Donald Trump in his first Senate impeachment trial. That trial revolved around Trump’s efforts to get Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to announce an investigation into President Joe Biden, who was then considered a likely Democratic presidential nominee.
The Republican-majority Senate acquitted Trump of allegations of abuse of power and obstruction of justice. The Chamber needs a two-thirds majority to convict and remove a President from office.
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