On the day The Post reported that independent counsel Kenneth Starr had won a victory in the court of appeals sustaining the fraud indictment of Webster Hubbell, an editorial called for Mr. Starr to step aside, shifting the two Hubbell prosecutions to the Justice Department [June 2].

The Post noted that Mr. Hubbell served the Clinton administration as associate attorney general but concluded that this conflict is "more theoretical than real" because of "political pressure" for adequate prosecution. Alas, the intense but unavailing political pressure on Attorney General Janet Reno to appoint an independent counsel to investigate foreign contributions to the Clinton-Gore campaigns offers no assurance of impartial prosecution by Justice of one of its own.

Much more is at stake than Mr. Hubbell's fate. The indictment count reinstated by the court of appeals charged that he made false statements to investigators concerning the alleged Castle Grande fraud. Mr. Hubbell's law partner at the time, Hillary Rodham Clinton, at first denied to investigators from the Federal Deposit Insurance Co. and the Resolution Trust Corp. that she worked on Castle Grande matters. Then her billing records, under subpoena for two years, proved otherwise when they were discovered on a table in the reading room adjacent to her office in the White House family quarters.

Mr. Starr might not have the fortitude to seek the indictment of Mrs. Clinton, even with persuasive testimony from Mr. Hubbell under one more plea bargain, but certainly Ms. Reno would not be inclined to pursue the wife of her direct superior and benefactor. Mr. Starr has been given a court mandate to conduct this investigation, and not even the views of The Post may authorize him to shirk his duty.

WILLIAM NICOSON

Reston