Clinton Accused Special Report
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Starr's Response

Following is Starr's response to Kendall:

Dear Mr. Kendall:

Your letter of February 6, 1998, accusing this Office of improperly disclosing information, including grand jury testimony, is strange and inappropriate for three significant reasons. First, you elevate mere suspicion to specific accusation without any facts other than the press's often misleading attributions of sources. Second, the timing of your letter – arriving in the midst of what appears to be an orchestrated plan to deflect and distract this investigation – undermines your expression of outrage. Third, we are aware that as of several days ago, the President's defense attorneys had most, if not all of the material information (whether true or not) set forth in today's New York Times article.

In my service as Independent Counsel, particularly with regard to the secrecy of the grand jury, I have insisted on a high commitment to professional conduct. I have expressed this commitment to you repeatedly. From the beginning, I have made the prohibition of leaks a principal priority of the Office. It is a firing offense, as well as one that leads to criminal prosecution. In the case of each allegation of improper disclosure, we have thoroughly investigated the facts and reminded the staff that leaks are utterly intolerable.

In light of the unclear press attributions in some examples cited in your letter, I have undertaken an investigation to determine whether, despite my persistent admonitions, someone in this Office may be culpable. I have no factual basis – as you likewise do not have – even to suspect anyone at this juncture. I am undertaking this investigation with deep regret, because I know how demoralizing it is to a staff of highly professional and experienced federal prosecutors. You do an extreme disservice to these men and women – and to the legal profession and the public – by your unsupported charges.

Indeed, the "facts" from the press that you cite as evidence of misconduct were, in each case, known to individuals outside my Office. These individuals include witnesses, lawyers, and others. Let me cite one noteworthy example: Monica Lewinsky's attorney, William Ginsburg, has told the world that he is in touch with lawyers on both sides of the pending civil case. The "leaks" that you complain about, thus, may have come from sources close to those under investigation. Those sources would have a clear and manifest motivation to release harmful information with carefully crafted defenses in order to lessen the painful impact of such evidence when it is revealed through official proceedings.

Finally, your role as private defense counsel and your loyalty to your client does not qualify you to lecture me on professional conduct and my legal responsibilities. I believe you know where I stand and have always stood on these issues. Fiercely aggressive representation, including through media grandstanding, cannot be an excuse for smearing a lawyer through reckless accusations. Let's stick to the facts. Let's find out the truth.

Sincerely,

Kenneth W. Starr, Independent Counsel

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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