It's a Race: Who Will Go to Jail First - Ken Starr or President Clinton

The United States Court of Appeals handed down a ruling Friday which places Ken Starr in jeopardy of going to jail even before he completes his "Whitewater" investigation of President Clinton.

In so doing, the appellate court also released a previously sealed ruling by Judge Norma Holloway Johnson of U.S. District Court dated June 19 in which Judge Johnson found that there was prima facie evidence that Ken Starr had violated Grand Jury Secrecy Rules.

Judge Norma Holloway Johnson

"Confirming the existence and substance of a sealed court ruling presents a prima facie violation" of the rules, Judge Johnson wrote, and "a violation of the court order not to discuss the ruling." In May, Starr publicly praised as "magnificent" a ruling by her against a White House claim of executive privilege. The ruling was sealed, Judge Johnson said with unmistakable scorn, so Starr's comment both confirmed its existence and revealed that it was favorable to him.

Finding that Clinton's lawyers had compiled a persuasive list of potential violations by Starr's office, she said in her ruling on June 19 that the prosecutors now carry the burden of proof and must demonstrate their innocence in a hearing to avoid contempt citations and possible penalties.

What makes this ruling especially significant is that, until now, Judge Johnson has invariably sided with Starr on the contentious issues involved in this case. Starr has defended his statements to the press, saying that there were necessary to keep the public informed of a matter of great interest. However, as the president's lawyer, David Kendall, pointed out, Starr provided most of the information as a secret anonymous not-for-attribution type source.

For months it has been obvious that somebody has been feeding information to the press which was defamatory to president Clinton. All these quotes were not for attribution. However, a report by Steven Brill revealed that none other than Ken Starr himself was the person making these not-for-attribution statements to the press.

Starr's violations are so obvious that in a normal non-political situation he would without doubt be disbarred and subject to criminal prosecution. So far, however, in spite of the widespread public outrage against Ken Starr, nobody has been willing to take action against him because of the politically sensitive nature of the case.

Everybody is remembering what happened after Nixon fired Archibald Cox. Nobody wants a repeat of that scenario.

Sam Sloan

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