One of the biggest obstacles Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr has in investigating President Clinton is Kenneth Starr.
He proved that again over the weekend when he admitted leaking information about the Monica Lewinsky matter to reporters. Starr defended his actions as necessary "to engender confidence in the work of this office."Public relations and good judgment have not been Starr's strong suits in his lengthy probe of Clinton. The latest development is further evidence of that. Instead of engendering confidence in his work, the interview Starr gave to a magazine did just the opposite.
The perception of underhandedness is undoubtedly far worse than the reality, but it gives the Clinton camp additional opportunities to obfuscate the investigation by going after the messenger. Not surprisingly, Clinton's attack pack did exactly that, pouncing on this latest opportunity to lambaste Starr as a cougar would a wounded rabbit.
"These charges are so serious and they go right to the heart of the legitimacy of the office," White House adviser Rahm Emanuel said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press." Clinton's legal team has asked a judge to sanction Starr for alleged leaks.
This purportedly high-minded attack on Starr from the White House is laden with hypocrisy, for it is the White House itself that has leaked, prevaricated, obstructed and engaged in massive media obfuscations in order to prevent the truth about Bill Clinton's misdeed from emerging.
Clinton's lawyers are trying to make Starr the issue of the investigation instead of Clinton, and the independent counsel unfortunately keeps giving them opportunities to do so.
Starr noted Sunday that neither he nor his office leaked any improper information. It did not disclose matters occurring before the grand jury. That opinion was supported by legal experts over the weekend.
However, just because someone can legally divulge something doesn't mean it's appropriate to do so. That's where Starr's judgment comes into question.
"Prosecutors are not supposed to comment about an ongoing investigation. The prudent thing to do is to give a two-word response, `No comment,' " Laurie L. Levenson, a former assistant U.S. attorney in Los Angeles, told the Los Angeles Times.
Added veteran defense lawyer Stan Brand on CBS' "Face the Nation," "I think he's used once again terrible judgment and set himself up for criticism by a wide range of people."
So do we.