Starr's inquiry

Hubbell talks: Prosecutor's questions went beyond mandate to getting dirt on Clintons.

August 08, 1999

IT'S water over the dam, since President Clinton was not convicted upon impeachment. Independent counsel Kenneth Starr's term will soon mercifully expire.

But some light was shed on Mr. Starr's priorities when one of his targets, Webster Hubbell, recently talked about his dealings with prosecutors.

"They wanted to know about Hillary's sex life. About the president's sex life, and mine, too. They specifically asked if Hillary and Vince [Foster] had had an affair," he told The New Yorker.

The Hubbell account reinforces the impression that Mr. Starr was acting as if he had a license to hound Mr. Clinton from office any way he could.

The Office of Independent Counsel's response to the Hubbell account was that since Mr. Hubbell was assigned to reinvestigate the suicide of Vincent Foster, he had to focus on motive. That's valid up to a point, but fails to address the scope of the sexual inquiry Mr. Hubbell described.

Mr. Hubbell himself is not an entirely nice man. He pleaded guilty to stealing from law partners, concealing possible conflicts of interest from bank investigators and unlawfully avoiding taxes. But Mr. Hubbell adds to historical perspective by providing concrete detail that the independent counsel was as prurient, arrogant, politically motivated and out of control as he seemed last year.

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