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Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee Questions Starr

  • More Transcripts From the Hearings

  • By Federal News Service
    Thursday, November 19, 1998

    REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): I thank the chairman very much, and I thank Mr. Starr for being here, and I acknowledge Mr. Starr, that this has been a long day.

    MR. STARR: Thank you.

    REP. JACKSON LEE: I notice that you went to the -- to Duke University and just -- having gone to law school just up the road, I will not compete with you today -- from the University of Virginia.

    But I have to disagree with some of my colleagues. One, I want to restate the fact that we're not here to undermine you. And I also would like to repeat the chairman's notice given, that it appears that the president has been cleared, the chairman used "passed," on

    Whitewater, Filegate and Travelgate. I think that is an important announcement today.

    But I do want to refer you to the words of Congressman Butler of Massachusetts, who indicated in defining the "impeachable offenses," in the instance of Andrew Johnson, that: "High crimes and misdemeanors would be one in its nature or consequences subversive of some fundamental or essential principle of government or highly prejudicial to the principle('s ?) interest, and this may consist of a violation of the Constitution."

    I am going to make some comments and then have a brief question, if you would indulge me.

    I notice also that you have lifted for our attention, your referral of September 11th, 1998. During my questioning, I want to lift for our understanding, the Constitution. And I say that because in reflection of what we are doing, I have read over and over our late colleague's comments in 1974, Barbara Jordan, who said, "My faith in the Constitution is whole, it is complete, and it's total." I understand her now even better, her being a child of a segregated South. I understand what she meant. But Felix Frankfurter said also, "One who belongs to the most vilified and persecuted minority in history is not likely to be insensitive to the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution."

    I ask you, Mr. Starr, do you believe that the president, as any other citizen, has the privilege of the Fifth Amendment? I just want a yes.

    MR. STARR: Yes.

    REP. JACKSON LEE: And that would go for Monica Lewinsky and Sarah Hawkins (sp), who happened to have appeared as a witness or was questioned? Is that accurate?

    MR. STARR: Yes.

    REP. JACKSON LEE: Monica Lewinsky's mother, Mrs. Lewis?

    MR. STARR: Yes.

    REP. JACKSON LEE: And of course, Susan McDougal --

    MR. STARR: Yes.

    REP. JACKSON LEE: -- would be subject to the rights and privileges of the Fifth Amendment?

    MR. STARR: Yes.

    REP. JACKSON LEE: On page 30 of your testimony, when you went in for expanded jurisdiction -- 30 and 31 -- it was a recounting of what occurred. And I notice in that recounting, there was not one time that you mentioned Paula Jones.

    Yet, as I understand it, you had a lawyer at a law firm that you were associated with -- were you associated with the firm of Kirkland and Ellis?

    MR. STARR: Yes.

    REP. JACKSON LEE: Was Mr. Richard Porter associated with the firm of Kirkland and Ellis?

    MR. STARR: Yes.

    REP. JACKSON LEE: And I note that Mr. Richard Ellis was asked to serve as counsel to Ms. Jones. Now, he did not serve as that, as I understand. Further, I understand that Kirkland and Ellis prepared pro bono legal documents for what we call the Women's Legal Forum. Is that correct?

    MR. STARR: With respect to the latter question, yes. And if I could just very briefly say that's --

    REP. JACKSON LEE: Would you briefly -- my time is short?

    MR. STARR: -- yes -- because that is the area that I do have personal information and knowledge on, with respect to the Independent Women's Forum.

    REP. JACKSON LEE: I would simply say, just in the answers that you have given today, and with the understanding of due process, I would say to you, Mr. Starr, that it seems quite shocking to me that in the course of seeking expanded jurisdiction, that you did not include those contacts. Although you noted on the record today, "Oh, I thought it was so widely known that it would not need mentioning," but put yourself in a courtroom setting where the prosecutor did not divulge particularly devastating conflict-of-interest matters to a defendant, and I think due process will come into play.

    Let me quickly move to my next question, keeping in mind the shortness of my time. Would you tell me, Mr. Starr, are you a member of the Virginia Bar? Virginia --

    MR. STARR: Yes, I'm an inactive member of the Bar.

    REP. JACKSON LEE: But you are a member of the Bar --

    MR. STARR: Yes.

    REP. JACKSON LEE: -- of the Virginia Bar, and I am likewise an inactive member of that bar. Have you ever been, or are you, a member of the American Bar Association?

    MR. STARR: I am.

    REP. JACKSON LEE: With that in mind, let me draw your attention to the Virginia Code of Ethics, and might I read it very quickly. "If, after undertaking employment in contemplated or pending litigation, a lawyer learns or it is obvious that he or a lawyer in his firm ought to be called as a witness on behalf of his client, he shall withdraw from the conduct of the trial and his firm." The ABA Code of Professional Responsibility says, in considering ethics, "The roles of an advocate and of a witness are inconsistent. The function of an advocate is to advance or argue the cause of another, while that of a witness is to state facts objectively."

    Take a judge, for example.

    REP. SENSENBRENNER: The gentlewoman's time has expired.

    REP. JACKSON LEE: I would ask the chairman to indulge me 30 seconds, if he would.

    REP. SENSENBRENNER: Thirty seconds.

    REP. JACKSON LEE: I thank the chairman very much.

    REP. SENSENBRENNER: The chair will time the gentlewoman.

    REP. JACKSON LEE: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

    Let me simply paint the picture for you. I've served as a judge, I've been somewhat of a prosecutor on a select committee on assassinations; and you have done many things. But I would simply say to you, how can you move from the prosecutor's chair to the judge's chair to the witness chair in any court in America, Mr. Starr? I cannot believe that any American would perceive any justice, as the Constitution so says, of having to defend against a prosecutor who acts as a judge and who acts as a witness.

    REP. SENSENBRENNER: The gentlewoman --

    REP. JACKSON LEE: With that, Mr. Chairman, I have no further questions.

    REP. SENSENBRENNER: The gentlewoman's time has expired, and the witness will answer the question.

    MR. STARR: I believe that we have in fact, and that I personally have complied with applicable, ethical codes. And I would be happy to focus on any specific issue under the Virginia Code.

    REP. JACKSON LEE: Thank the chair.

    I thank the witness.

    Copyright © 1998 by Federal News Service, Inc. No portion of this transcript may be copied, sold or retransmitted without the written authority of Federal News Service, Inc. Copyright is not claimed as to any part of the original work prepared by a United States government officer or employee as a part of that person's original duties. Transcripts of other events may be found at the Federal News Service Web site, located at

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