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Rep. Maxine Waters Questions Starr

  • More Transcripts From the Hearings

  • By Federal News Service
    Thursday, November 19, 1998

    REP. HYDE: Now, ladies and gentlemen, I would just like to announce sort of a schedule. Things are kind of ad hoc up here.

    We're going to finish with the members' questioning under the five-minute rule. Then when that happens, we're going to take a half- hour dinner break. I -- it's unfortunate we just took a break, but maybe it was fortunate for some of you. But anyway, we will at the end of the -- completion of the members' questioning, we will take a half-hour break, and then we will come back, and Mr. Kendall, I believe, will question Mr. Starr. We'll start out with a half hour. And then if Mr. Kendall needs more time, as I suspect, we will be liberal in allowing that, so that he can ask what he wants to ask or needs to ask. And then Mr. Schippers will question, if he desires to. And then we will let Mr. Starr go home with three medals and a Purple Heart.

    MR. STARR: (Chuckles.) Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    REP. HYDE: Then we go to a full committee meeting, but you needn't stay for that, although God knows you're welcome.

    So the next questioner is the distinguished gentlelady from California Ms. Waters.

    REP. MAXINE WATERS (D-CA): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

    Let me just start, before I get into the areas that I would like to pay attention to, I'd like to help out my friend from California, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren. She asked you, would you be willing to release the press from their confidentiality pledge to you and your office, so that we can get the leaks investigated that are in question?

    MR. STARR: I believe that it would, Congresswoman Waters, be unwise and inappropriate for me at this time, in this setting -- and I'm delighted to pursue this in executive session --

    REP. WATERS: That's okay, but your answer today is you would be unwilling to do that.

    MR. STARR: I believe it would be unwise at this time, with litigation under seal still proceeding.

    REP. WATERS: All right. Thank you.

    MR. STARR: And I'm very respectful of the orderliness of that proceeding. And it seems to me that that --

    REP. WATERS: Okay. I just didn't want to take up a lot of time with it.

    MR. STARR: I'm sorry. I beg your pardon.

    REP. WATERS: I just wanted to know if you would do it or not. The answer is no.

    All right, let me just say --

    MR. STARR: Excuse me --

    REP. WATERS: Yes, and I understand.

    MR. STARR: At this time --

    REP. WATERS: I understand.

    MR. STARR: -- because of the pendency of the litigation --

    REP. WATERS: Let me just go on. I only have five minutes.

    MR. STARR: Yes. I'm sorry.

    REP. WATERS: I have been one of your harshest critics, and you know it. I have been appalled by what I consider the gross unfairness of the procedure, of the way in which you have conducted yourself. I've been very critical of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle because of the way that they received these referrals and then dumped them into the public domain without any opportunity for the administration or White House to review the information. So I make no bones about it.

    I think that some of the tactics that have been used are unacceptable. I think that the moment it was understood that you were going to remain, for example, on the payroll of your law firm, where you would be representing the tobacco companies, for example, while the president of the United States had made them a number-one target in his administration for dealing with trying to discontinue the smoking by youth in our society and dealing with all of the health risk, and I think that it is just totally unacceptable that as late as 1995, you were representing the tobacco interests in your law firm at the same time you were working for us.

    How long did you work for your law firm representing the tobacco interests, and how much did it overlap with this investigation, starting with Whitewater?

    MR. STARR: I had two representations. One was an appeal on a class action, which was in the time frame, Congresswoman Waters, of

    1995 and 1996. And prior to that time, I believe it was 1994 -- I would have to reconstruct this -- I took on a specific representation, again an appeal, which, as you may know, is what I typically do. That was in the 1994 time frame. The issues that I took on were in one instance constitutional issues, and the second was a federal civil procedure issue.

    REP. WATERS: Did you ever feel you were in conflict of interest by working for your law firm at the same time that you were working for -- as independent counsel?

    MR. STARR: Congresswoman Waters, I did not. And I had ethics advice both at the law firm and in the independent counsel's office. And our effort has always been in our office to make sure that we are addressing these issues carefully.

    REP. WATERS: So you do normally seek the advice so that you will not get into ethical problems; is that right?

    MR. STARR: Yes, we do --

    REP. WATERS: All right.

    Let me just ask you: You did take the oath of office here today, and you mentioned in your testimony that the president took the oath of office to tell the truth. However, when you were asked about how you conducted yourself, when you sought to expand your jurisdiction in this matter, you literally did not disclose information that may have caused the attorney general to rule differently.

    And what's interesting about it, the way that you presented it today; when you were asked very specific questions, you said: "I don't recall. I don't quite remember. I am not so sure. I'll have to search my memory," those kinds of answers; yet, when the president of the United States responded in that way, you outright called him a liar.

    Now, am I to assume that your inability to recollect your involvement -- for example, how many hours did you spend on the brief that you did for the Independent Women's Forum?

    MR. STARR: Congresswoman Waters, the answer to the question is I did no brief for the Independent Women's Forum.

    And I also respectfully, but firmly, disagree with your characterization. I tried to put before this committee the events with respect to January of 1998 and why it was that certain things that I had been involved with, such as the Independent Women's Forum --

    REP. WATERS: What did you do for them?

    MR. STARR: I beg your pardon?

    REP. WATERS: What did you do for the Independent Women's Forum?

    MR. STARR: I considered, as I did for Bob Fiske, as I also indicated, doing an amicus brief, solely limited to the proposition that the president of the United States is just like the rest of us in that, as a private citizen, he must in fact respond in court to lawsuits against him.

    REP. WATERS: You didn't consider that that was a possible information that you should have disclosed to the attorney general, when you were seeking to expand your jurisdiction?

    MR. STARR: May I respond briefly?

    REP. HYDE: Please.

    MR. STARR: As I indicated, that information with respect to the Independent Women's Forum was -- I believed then and I continue to believe -- was publicly reported. What I have indicated today to the committee is the Bob Fiske inquiry had not been in the public domain.

    But I also did not think that an issue of relevancy to the attorney general, even though frankly, perhaps I should have thought of that inasmuch as that was the Department of Justice, through Bob Fiske, the independent counsel, appointed by the Department of Justice.

    REP. WATERS: Mr. --

    REP. HYDE: The gentlelady's time has expired.

    REP. WATERS: Yes, I do believe it, and I would ask you for 30 seconds. I have just one issue I have to get in here about abuse of power.

    There is a whole list of items that I'd like to discuss with you. Much has been said about what happened with Monica Lewinsky over in the shopping center at the hotel, but there are some others that I am very concerned about.

    Are you familiar with Miss Steele and what she is alleging about what you are doing? Did your investigators ask for her tax records, her bank records, her credit report, her telephone records and question the adoption of a child, to try and find out whether it was legal? Did they treat her that way?

    MR. STARR: Congresswoman Waters, the answer to the first question is, if I have the questions right, you asked a series of questions. What was your first question? I think it was yes.

    REP. WATERS: Tell me about Miss Steele. What do you know about her? Did you know your investigators had asked for her tax records, her bank records, her credit reports, her telephone records, all because, supposedly, she was told something by one of the targeted witnesses in this case?

    MR. STARR: I now understand the question. We have asked, through FBI investigators, a variety of questions to individuals that, in the judgment of professional, experienced investigators, have a bearing on the witness's credibility.

    REP. WATERS: Did you know she felt abused by you and your investigators?

    MR. STARR: I am aware that there are issues that she has raised, and part of --

    REP. WATERS: Okay, fine. Okay. I just wanted to know if you knew, and finally --

    REP. HYDE: The gentlelady's time -- if you're not going to give him a chance to answer, your time has expired.

    REP. WATERS: Well, let me just say this. He may take the time to answer, but there's one more 16-year-old boy who was subpoenaed at school that you sent your investigators to school to get, because you were trying to get his father, and you know who I'm talking about.

    REP. : Mr. Chairman, regular order.

    REP. HYDE: The gentlelady, really -- give the -- give Mr. Starr a chance to answer and please don't ask more question.

    REP. WATERS: All right. Okay.

    MR. STARR: I can be brief.

    REP. WATERS: Yes.

    MR. STARR: That was in the Arkansas phase of our investigation. The individual in question, we believed, had relevant information. No subpoena, as I understand it, was, in fact, served, but the agent in question did go to the school. In my judgment, that was a misjudgment. I don't think he should have even have gone to the school. But it's my best understanding that he did not, in fact, effect the service of the subpoena on the young person there. If I am mistaken, then I will say this: No -- should not have gone to the school. But could I add this: we have had, in this investigation, jurisdiction granted to us in a wide variety of areas that has caused -- when I took over for Bob Fiske, he had a presence of about 120 people in Little Rock.

    Congresswoman Waters, there may be steps along the way that you would say, "Well, why was that particular judgment made? Gosh, that wasn't a very wise thing to do." And I do think it is unwise to go to a school; I completely agree with that --

    REP. WATERS: What about subpoenaing the 80-year-old grandmother --

    REP. HYDE: The gentlelady's time -- the gentlelady's time --

    REP. WATERS: -- the same gentleman -- you subpoenaed an 80-year- old grandmother and the -- (off mike) --

    REP. HYDE: The gentlelady's time has expired. Will you please follow the chair?

    REP. WATERS: Let him answer that one.

    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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