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Text of Kendall Letter

Following is the bulk of David Kendall's letter:

Dear Judge Starr:

The leaking by your office has reached an intolerable point. The covert dissemination of both accurate and inaccurate information by your staff violates Rule 6(e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, case law, Department of Justice Guidelines, rules of court and well-established ethical prohibitions. At your press conference yesterday, you paid lip service to your legal and ethical obligations, remarking that you could not respond concerning the status of "someone who might be a witness," because "that goes to the heart of the grand jury process. ... Those are obligations of law; they're obligations of ethics. ... I am under a legal obligation not to talk about facts going before the grand jury ... [an obligation that is] centuries old. It was ordained at the founding of the American republic. Part of that [obligation] is, guard the confidentiality of that [process]." At your press conference today, you again acknowledged the gravity of this matter.

Events of recent days make a mockery of your earnest verbal professions. Far more accurate is your candid recognition that "I regret that there have been instances, so it would appear, when that rule has not been abided by." "So it would appear" hardly does justice to the deluge of leaks which quite obviously stem from your office. In the past four years, I have written you in confidence about the various leaks that have occurred from your office. I am making this letter public today because of the calculated tactic your office is now employing of selectively releasing both information and falsehoods, in an attempt to pressure, manipulate, and intimidate witnesses and possible witnesses, affect public opinion in your favor, and cause political harm to the President. I intend to seek judicial relief from these tactics, including contempt sanctions, as soon as practicable. ...

The appalling disregard for the legal and ethical requirements of grand jury and investigative confidentiality and the cynical dissemination of information and misinformation from your office leads me to believe that you have lost control. These leaks are deeply unfair and prejudicial. You have a solemn duty to ferret out these leaks and regain command and control of your staff. The leaks erode a fundamental and venerable principle of the grand jury (an investigative body enshrined in the Bill of Rights to the Constitution) that investigations shall be conducted in secret so that those suspected but not charged with crimes will not have their reputations besmirched, without having a forum in which to cleanse those reputations.

A report on Wednesday's NBC Nightly News illustrates, however, what is now commonplace – legally protected grand jury material strategically leaked from your office. Matters have gotten so out of hand that NBC's report of the immunity negotiations between your office and Ms. Lewinsky looks very much like an Independent Counsel press release. In the pace of three paragraphs, the NBC correspondent refers directly at least four times to "sources" in your office. ...

Perhaps more pernicious even is a leak two days ago to The Wall Street Journal, purporting to recount the grand jury testimony of a White House steward, Mr. Nelvis. We now know that the leak ... is "totally false." Yet the report was nonetheless spread widely as though true, and was extremely damaging both to the President and Mr. Nelvis. It also broadcast to the world the kind of evidence you would like to gather, inviting copycat "testimony" and the like. ...

A front-page article in today's New York Times is headlined "AIDE'S STATEMENTS ARE SAID TO DIFFER FROM THE PRESIDENT'S," and the passive voice ("are said"), tells all. The article, a flagrant leak from your staff, purports to report what the President's personal secretary, Ms. Betty Currie, has told "investigators" (i.e. your agents), and these statements are sourced to "lawyers familiar with her account" (i.e. your legal staff). ...

Mrs. Currie's own lawyer has stated that, except for the one-sentence statement explicitly attributed to him in the article, this information did not come from Mrs. Currie or her attorneys. In context, the "lawyers familiar with the inquiry," so frequently quoted in the article, are plainly members of your staff. ...

Over the past two weeks, there have been numerous such selective leaks directly traceable to your office – the accuracy of which, I might add, are often highly suspect. ...

[Kendall follows with 50 excerpts of broadcast and published reports from various media organizations, including The Washington Post, in which substantive information is attributed to unnamed prosecutors, investigators and "sources close to the investigation."

[Kendall then cites various laws and ethical canons that he alleges have been violated by Starr's office.]

It's time for action on these leaks, not words. Simple fairness demands that they cease immediately.


David E. Kendall

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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