For Hillary, a Lousy Time for Jury Duty

Starr may call her as a witness in Hubbell case. But it wouldn't be as bad as it sounds

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The bad news for Hillary Clinton is that Ken Starr may drag her back through the Whitewater slop -- to testify at the trial of her former law partner, Webb Hubbell – just as her New York Senate run is clambering out of the gate. The good news is that if she’s called, she’ll be on Starr’s side. Though sources tell the Associated Press that the First Lady is on the list of possible witnesses in Starr’s final stab at Whitewater justice, TIME White House correspondent Jay Branegan figures that for Hillary, this never-ending scandal may have finally acquired a silver lining.

"If she’s a witness for the prosecution, Starr will be vouching for her credibility," he says. "That could defang a lot of the political negatives that this exposure could bring." Also, the trial is set for August, a full 15 months before the election, and remember -- Hillary wasn’t much of a witness the first time around. In January 1996, testifying before Starr’s grand jury, she used the "I don’t recall" defense 55 times, leading Branegan to speculate that her role, if any, will be small. "She may appear just to confirm her signature on something, or she may not be called at all." Branegan expects Mrs. Clinton to go ahead with her exploratory committee in July. But don’t expect her to formally announce until Starr and Hubbell are both out of the picture, and the New Hillary can get down to business untroubled by her checkered past.