Starr claims progress despite noncooperation Whitewater counsel denies partisanship


DETROIT -- In a rare news conference and speech, the Whitewater independent counsel complained here yesterday about a lack of cooperation with his investigations but said he was making substantial progress anyway.

"It would have been very helpful, frankly, if each person with relevant information had simply come forward -- honestly, truthfully assisted the prosecution in seeking to get at the facts, get at the truth," said the independent counsel, Kenneth W. Starr. "We did not meet with that to the extent that I would have liked."

Nonetheless, he said, "We have made very substantial progress both in the Little Rock and the Washington phases of the investigation."

Starr is overseeing a series of inquiries that began with the links between President Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton and a failed Arkansas savings and loan. But the investigations have expanded to include the dismissal of the staff of the White House travel office, the White House's improper acquisition of hundreds of FBI files and the business dealings of President Clinton's associates in Arkansas.

While Starr said repeatedly that a lack of cooperation had slowed his efforts, he refused to say whether he meant these comments as a criticism of the White House under President Clinton.

"I am not going to direct that observation at anyone," Starr said. Susan H. McDougal, a former business associate of Clinton's in the Whitewater project, an unsuccessful real estate development in Arkansas, was jailed Sept. 9 by a federal judge for refusing to answer prosecutors' questions about the president before a grand jury.

Asked after his speech whether Clinton's re-election last week would affect his work, Starr replied: "I'm not going to comment on the elections in any respect. I have a job to do."

While describing in some detail the convictions of Arkansas politicians and business people that he has already obtained, Starr declined to comment on any future indictments he might seek or to discuss any specifics of his examination of the president's conduct.

Starr said several times that his efforts to investigate the president were not motivated by any partisanship, as Democrats have sometimes suggested. "The charge is utterly wrong," he said.

Pub Date: 11/12/96

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