Newly named Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr announced yesterday that he has hired a prominent Democratic lawyer to continue the Washington phase of the Whitewater investigation and promoted a member of his predecessor's legal team to be his deputy on the Little Rock, Ark., aspects of the probe.
Starr also hired three attorneys with Republican or conservative credentials, including a former U.S. attorney appointed by President Ronald Reagan. Several key members of the legal team assembled by Robert B. Fiske Jr., the man Starr replaced last month, will stay on to work with him.
Some Democrats have expressed concern that Starr, a former solicitor general in the Bush administration, would not give the Clintons a fair shake. The staff announcements appeared, in part, designed to quiet fears that Starr would bring his conservative politics to the investigation of the financial affairs of President Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton and others with ties to a failed savings and loan.
William S. Duffey, a member of Fiske's legal team, will serve as Starr's deputy overseeing the investigation in Little Rock, Starr said in a statement released by his office. W. Hickman Ewing Jr., a former U.S. attorney in Memphis during the Reagan administration, has been hired as senior counsel based in Little Rock.
Starr appointed Mark H. Tuohey III, a Washington white-collar criminal defense lawyer, to complete the investigation of the handling of documents in former White House deputy counsel Vincent Foster's office after Foster's suicide in July 1993. Among those documents was a file on the Clinton's Whitewater real estate investment.
In June, Fiske issued a report concluding that Foster took his own life, as authorities had originally found, and he said he found insufficient basis for prosecution of any White House or Treasury officials over their discussions about the Whitewater probe. Those conclusions were questioned by some conservatives. Starr has not said whether he intends to reopen those phases of the investigation.
Tuohey is well-known in local Democratic Party circles and served as president of the D.C. Bar Association in 1993 and 1994. He is close to some Clinton administration officials, including Associate Attorney General Jamie S. Gorelick, and last year hosted a party for Attorney General Janet Reno at his Washington home.
Tuohey was an assistant U.S. attorney in the mid-1970s and later prosecuted then-Rep. Daniel J. Flood (D-Pa.).
He will be assisted by two young Washington lawyers, Alex M. Azar II and Brett M. Kavanaugh, both Yale Law School graduates who served as law clerks for conservative judges, Azar for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and Kavanaugh for Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.
Duffey was a specialist in complex civil and criminal litigation, including banking law, while a partner at King and Spaulding in Atlanta. He joined the Fiske team in February.
At least five of the lawyers recruited by Fiske have decided not to stay on with Starr.
Ewing was a U.S. attorney during the Reagan administration. His office pursued numerous public corruption cases, including the prosecution of Rep. Harold E. Ford (D-Tenn.) for bank fraud in 1990, a case that ended in a mistrial.