Tuesday, February 02, 1999

Clinton's lawyer accuses Starr of leaks

The Associated Press

President on trial
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        WASHINGTON — President Clinton's lawyer Monday again accused independent counsel Kenneth Starr of illegally leaking grand jury material, this time over a report that Mr. Starr has concluded the president can be indicted while still in office.

        Mr. Clinton's lawyer, David Kendall, asked a federal judge to require Mr. Starr to show why he and his staff should not be held in contempt for improper violations of grand jury secrecy.

        Mr. Kendall told reporters Mr. Starr's office “engaged in illegal and partisan leaking,” citing a weekend report in The New York Times that said Mr. Starr had concluded a grand jury has the constitutional authority to charge Mr. Clinton with a crime while he remains in office.

        Mr. Starr released a statement saying he was “deeply troubled” by the Times report.

        “This office has no desire to inject itself into the constitutional process under way in the Senate,” the independent counsel said, adding that he was investigating to determine whether anyone in his office improperly disclosed information to the newspaper.

        Mr. Starr, asked outside his home if he planned to seek an indictment of the president, said, “It is premature for us to be commenting at all on this, so we're not going to comment.”

        U.S. District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson last year appointed an investigator to look into Mr. Kendall's previous allegations that Mr. Starr's office was responsible for leaks of grand jury material.

        Mr. Starr contended the White House and defense lawyers were the prime suspects.

        The federal grand jury secrecy rule bars prosecutors, grand jurors and court personnel from disclosing grand jury information. An appeals court in Washington, D.C., said last year that protected information “includes not only what has occurred and what is occurring, but also what is likely to occur,” including the investigation's strategy.

        However, witnesses who testify before a grand jury are allowed to disclose what is said inside the grand jury room.


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