THE IMPEACHMENT HEARINGS
Rep. Mary Bono Questions Starr
Thursday, November 19, 1998
REP. MARY BONO (R-CA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. You know, I actually want to share something with you first, as your newest member. When I first came onto this committee, I told my colleagues that I don't understand the rules yet, the five-minutes rule and the etiquette, and I asked my colleagues for help, and they all yelled back at me, "Don't worry, we don't understand it either." (Laughter.) So I was thinking when I get my orientation on the rules, maybe we can all sit down and learn the rules.
But I just want to say to Judge Starr that it has been an extremely enlightening day for me. And, you know, up until now, basically your persona has been one -- a character out of "Groundhog Day", if you will, where you've been the same person day in and day out to all of us, where you've walked from your house to a car, smiled and got in. (Laughter.) And that's all that we have known of you. And I think that it's nice to see that behind that image there's a human -- there's a human -- behind the spin that there is a human.
And I also want to say that what has been most interesting to me today is to watch all of these lawyers attacking other lawyers for what it is lawyers do -- whatever it is. (Laughter.) And I have to say also, I think you have been the victim of a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking in your investigation.
But, you know, none of that changes the facts, none of that changes the truth. And the election on November 4th also did not change the facts, it did not change the truth.
But I must say that you have proven yourself to me today to be the fair, competent, meticulous and thorough person that Attorney General Janet Reno knew you to be when she appointed you.
MR. STARR: Thank you.
REP. BONO: You know, some criticized you that you boast about all of your wins. I think you should boast, because I think you do what you do very well. And I think far be it from anybody in this town to criticize somebody for boasting about their record.
But I want to say that I do have a question for you. And, Judge Starr, you and your family have been subjected to an enormous amount of personal persecution during your tenure as the independent counsel, particularly over the last year. What motivates you to keep going forward? You know, do you have this bone to pick with the president, or this personal vendetta? Do you hold personal animosity toward him, and has that affected the job you've done?
MR. STARR: Well, I thank you for that question, and I hold no animosity and I would love to be back in private life. I received questions today with respect to well, didn't you accept a deanship at Pepperdine and look who made a contribution -- so, you're right. I would prefer to be almost your constituent. A little bit farther west -- (Scattered laughter.) I would like to be -- and I'd even looked at a house in Malibu Country Estates; that's where I would like to be. I would like to be living my life with my family, and I tried to do that because I had a view that I could, in fact, lay down the mantle long before Monica Lewinsky ever walked into the nation's life, and pass the mantle on to someone else because of what I had tried to create, and I talked about it today -- which is that this office of independent counsel should, in fact, reflect the experience and practice of the Justice Department. I love the Justice Department; I served there two times, and I loved every moment that I was there, even during the rough times, and there were plenty of those, because it is a great department.
And so I tried to create the Department of Justice and frankly, felt that I had. Unfortunately, a number of my prosecutors are being calumnied and criticized. It's one thing to criticize the independent counsel. It goes with the territory. But to criticize and to calumny the men and women which whom I'm privileged to serve, many of whom are on detail from the United States Department of Justice is, I think, wrong, and I think it's unfair and I think it's unfortunate.
But that's what I thought I had created. I tried to say my job has reached a stage where I feel that the independent counsel's office, with offices in Little Rock and in Washington, would, in fact, be able to carry on very effectively under new leadership. I tried to retire. I think George Washington was very wise in saying eight years is enough. "I would rather go back" -- (chuckles) -- of course, he wasn't across the river where the capital was then, but, "I would rather return to Mount Vernon, thank you very much."
Well, I would have preferred to have returned to private life, but I was importuned by my own staff and I let down my staff, because the deliberative process that I had so talked about, that before we make any major decision, whether one agrees with the decision or not, we deliberate about it, and they basically said, "Ken, you let us down.
You didn't deliberate with us. You chose your own decision professionally, without a process as to what this might mean at this particular time to the investigation."
I will -- if I could be indulged 30 more seconds -- I will always remember the comments by an assistant United States attorney, one of the senior prosecutors in the South. I think Congressman Bryant would know him, but I don't name the names of our line prosecutors. But he was on detail to us in the Little Rock office, and he had a major case reasonability. And he came to me and said -- and this was indicative of what I was receiving -- "You're making a profound mistake, and it's unfair to the investigation. You cannot leave." And this was after I had been roundly criticized on any number of -- for my many sins of commission and omission. Even with all that, the suggestion was made -- and I was both honored by it and humbled by it, but also, frankly, a little bit down in the dumps about it -- it was sort of "it's not time to leave."
So my duty is to do my duty. I did not ask for this investigation to come walking in the door; it came to us. We took it to the department that I love greatly and admire greatly, the Department of Justice, and we said, "What do we do as colleagues? How do we collaborate? How should this matter that, unfortunately for the country and unfortunately for this committee, is now before you?" And it came to me. And that's why I'm here.
In terms of my family, they're bearing up well. And thank you very much for asking.
REP. BONO: Thank you, Judge. And thank you, Mr. --
REP. HYDE: The gentlelady's time has expired, and we thank her very much.
REP. WATERS: Mr. Chairman, point of order.
REP. HYDE: We will now recess until 8:25.
REP. WATERS: Mr. Chairman -- (off mike).
REP. HYDE: We will then resume. Will everyone stay in their place until the independent counsel has left?
(Off-mike cross talk.)
REP. WATERS: Mr. Chairman, will Mr. Starr be back?
REP. HYDE: What?
REP. WATERS: Will Mr. Starr be back? I have a point of order.
REP. HYDE: Oh, indeed he'll be back, because Mr. Kendall has to question him, and so does Mr. Schippers.
REP. WATERS: You will -- (off mike) -- my point of order -- (off mike).
REP. HYDE: If you wish, sure.
REP. WATERS: Thank you.
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