The Clintons, and many Democrats, believed Starr was picked because he was a hard-line Republican who would come down harder on them. That’s been widely dismissed as conjecture. Still, his selection did set in motion an investigation much broader in scope than its original mission, and which eventually led to President Clinton’s impeachment.
Fiorina has described the tremendous influence her father had on her world view. When he died in 2008, his obituary in the San Jose Mercury News began: “Carly Fiorina once said of her father, Judge Joseph T. Sneed III, that he was her ‘true north,’ the one person who had instilled in her a ‘strong internal compass’ that led her to career success.”
Yet his direct connection to the Clintons is not widely known.
“I didn’t know he was Carly’s father until you called, so I find it fascinating,” Kenneth Gormley, who wrote the definitive book on the Starr investigation, told the Loop in an interview. “The world of Washington reinvents itself in new generations, but it’s many of the same cast of characters. It’s amazing how these things keep linking themselves together.”
Fiorina’s campaign said Thursday she was unavailable to comment on this story.
Gormley, who interviewed Sneed for “The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs. Starr” and was the first to report that it was Sneed who personally recommended Starr for the task, does not believe Sneed’s politics factored into his pick.
“This is not a person who was out to do a political hatchet job. [Sneed] was a very conservative Republican judge, no question about it … but he was not a political operative,” Gormley said. “They were looking for someone to get to the bottom of this. For him, it wasn’t about getting Clinton, it was about getting someone to do a thorough investigation. I did not detect a super political person with an agenda.”
Gormley, dean at Duquesne University law school, shared with the Loop the transcript from his 2003 interview with Fiorina’s father. He asked Sneed where he was when the House voted to impeach Clinton.
“I just thought well, here we go again, and just thought it was an exhibition because the liklihood of impeaching a president who hasn’t committed a murder seems to me so remote that it’s a show to gain political position more than anything else,” Sneed said, according to the transcript.
Doesn’t sound like a guy who was out for Clinton’s head.
But 21 years later, it’s his daughter who, in not so veiled terms, has revisited the more salacious Clinton scandal in her stump speeches.
“I was asked on a national television program whether a woman’s hormones prevented her from serving in the Oval Office. So, can we think of a single instance in which a man’s judgment might have been clouded by his hormones? Any at all?” she said, according to an NPR story that described it as a “not-so-subtle jab at former President Bill Clinton.”
And to think, maybe, just maybe, if not for her father a different independent counsel might not have taken up the Monica Lewinsky investigation.
To close the loop, there is also some irony to be found in that Sneed previously worked for the Nixon administration as deputy attorney general. Soon after, an upstart attorney named Hillary Rodham would work on the committee investigating Watergate, which led to Nixon’s resignation.