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Starr Will Not Submit Interim Report

By Helen Dewar
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, July 6, 1998; Page A05

Independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr has decided against giving Congress an interim report on his investigation of President Clinton, regardless of whether the probe is finished before lawmakers go home to campaign this fall, Starr's spokesman said yesterday.

Starr's decision is likely to come as a relief to many House members of both parties who were not enthusiastic about being confronted with an impeachment controversy based on partial information before the November midterm elections.

Starr will submit a report only when -- and if -- he determines there is "substantial and credible information" that crimes have been committed, as required by the independent counsel statute, said Starr aide Charles G. Bakaly III on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Asked whether Starr felt any obligation to submit findings to Congress before it adjourns, presumably in early October, Bakaly said there is no "timing element . . . or requirement" in the law.

As for a partial report if the investigation is not completed before adjournment, he said, "No, there's not going to be one. When Judge Starr believes that that threshold [of substantial and credible evidence] has been met, he will send his report up to Congress." Bakaly offered no clues as to when that might be.

In another interview, on CNN's "Late Edition," Bakaly said he could not say when Starr decided against an interim report. A little over a month ago, Bakaly told interviewers that "we have not ruled out doing an interim report," saying lengthy litigation might otherwise result in keeping information from lawmakers. But, in the meantime, several key House members made it clear that they wanted only a final report.

Bakaly also declined to say whether Starr will subpoena Clinton to go before a grand jury in the Monica S. Lewinsky case, but said "we believe that you can" subpoena a sitting president. So far, at least for what is known publicly, Starr has asked -- but not tried to compel -- Clinton to appear, and Clinton has declined. "We believe that there is law out there that does support" the legality of a subpoena for a president while in office, Bakaly said.

As for indictment of a sitting president, Bakaly said, "There is no law . . . that says that you cannot" do so. But he also noted that "the Constitution gives authority for impeachment to the House of Representatives, and we have to be very mindful of the constitutional duties and obligations" of the House.

In an appearance on ABC's "This Week," former special White House counsel Jane Sherburne said recent legal setbacks for Starr have contributed to concerns that he is a "runaway prosecutor."

But Bakaly said he believed Starr has been persecuted by his critics.

"It's the old adage: . . . If you don't have the facts, you argue the law," he said. "If you don't have the law, you argue the facts, and if you have neither, in this kind of a case . . . you persecute the prosecutor."

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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