NewsHour: Investigating The Investigator – February 10, 1999

JIM LEHRER: Margaret Warner begins our coverage of the Kenneth Starr investigation story.

MARGARET WARNER: As the senate winds up its impeachment trial of the president, Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr is coming under investigation on a growing number of fronts. Today’s "New York Times" reported the Justice Department has decided to open an inquiry into whether Starr’s prosecutors misled Attorney General Janet Reno about possible conflicts of interest when they obtained permission to investigate the Lewinsky matter in January 1998. At issue, the "Times" said, is whether Starr’s "prosecutors should have disclosed the contacts between Mr. Starr’s office and the Paula Jones legal team" in the weeks leading up to Starr’s request to expand his inquiry into the Lewinsky affair. According to the "Times," Starr’s prosecutors denied any such contacts at the time, but subsequent news stories have reported otherwise. Starr spokesman Charles Bakaly would not comment to the "Times" about whether the Department was opening an inquiry. But Bakaly insisted, "there was no misleading of justice." Democratic Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa jumped on the "Times" story this morning.

SEN. TOM HARKIN, (D) Iowa: And if you believe the rule of law applies not only to the defendant– the president, in this case– but also to the prosecutors and those sworn to uphold that rule of law, then it is important to look at how this case got here. It’s interesting to note that in today’s February 10th "New York Times," "the conduct of the independent counsel is so suspect and potentially violative of Justice Department policy and law that now he is under investigation for a number of reasons."