Clinton investigator Ken Starr dies at 76

·2 min read
Ken Starr.
Ken Starr. Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Ken Starr, a former U.S. solicitor general and the independent counsel who led the Whitewater probe and other investigations during the Clinton administration, died Tuesday in Houston. He was 76.

Starr's wife, Alice, said he spent the last 17 weeks hospitalized with an undisclosed illness and died of complications from surgery. In an email sent to friends and family, she described her late husband as a "brilliant, kind, and loving man" who "felt compelled to always respond to the call to serve his country, even when it meant enduring harsh criticism for his service."

The Texas native became a federal judge at 37 and argued more than three dozen cases before the Supreme Court while serving as U.S. solicitor general during the George H.W. Bush administration. He then transitioned to the role of independent counsel, investigating then-President Bill Clinton. The probe initially focused on real estate transactions made during Clinton's time as the attorney general and governor of Arkansas before looking at Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky while she was a White House intern.

In a report filed with the House of Representatives at the end of the investigation, Starr said Clinton lied under oath about this affair and obstructed justice. In December 1998, Clinton was impeached by the House, but later acquitted by the Senate.

Starr went on to serve as dean of Pepperdine University's law school in California and president of Baylor University in Texas; he resigned after an investigation determined the school mishandled sexual assault allegations made against members of the football team. Starr was back in the spotlight in 2020, when he served on former President Donald Trump's impeachment team during his first Senate trial.

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