The material in the June 15 front-page story of excerpts from Bob Woodward's new book left the wrong impression about Ken Starr and his investigation. I barely recognized the man for whom I have worked for many years in the Department of Justice, in the office of the independent counsel and in private practice.
The rather mundane point on which Mr. Woodward focused is that various people in the office of the independent counsel had different views on structural issues related to the impeachment referral. But that only means Judge Starr assembled an office that encouraged -- indeed, required -- vigorous debate. On this critical issue there should be no confusion: Every attorney and investigator in the office strongly supported Judge Starr's decision to send an impeachment referral.
I note three specific points:
First, the article indicated that Judge Starr was somehow gleeful that the president's grand jury testimony had made details of the president's relationship with Monica Lewinsky relevant to the case. That is wrong. The entire office -- most particularly Judge Starr -- was extraordinarily concerned about how to handle those details and at the same time provide Congress with all relevant information. The office believed that Congress would review the materials before making a judgment as to what to release publicly and what to maintain in its evidence room. No one in the office, and certainly not Judge Starr, envisioned that Congress would release truckloads of sensitive personal information onto the Internet without even reviewing the information beforehand.
Second, the article reported that I stated in an office meeting that the office should send evidence to the House without an accompanying report. I never stated or held that position.
Third, the article wrongly described a memo I wrote about the Julie Hiatt Steele case. Without my discussing inappropriate specifics, that memo pointed out that the Steele case might be criticized by others as part of the barrage of criticism of the independent counsel statute. The memo thus suggested that referring the case back to the Justice Department might blunt the defense tactic of bashing Ken Starr and the independent counsel statute. The memo was not a "moral-objection" memo.
Contrary to the impression left by Bob Woodward's article, the truth is that Judge Starr has consistently performed with the highest skill and integrity, and those of us who have worked for him respect him greatly and feel sick about the abuse he has suffered.
BRETT M. KAVANAUGH
The writer is a lawyer formerly in the office of the independent counsel.