WASHINGTON: The Clinton counterattack continues. This week's theme: Did Ken Starr rely on weak and faulty evidence to persuade his superiors to let him expand his Whitewater probe into Monica Lewinsky? Investigating the investigator is nothing new, of course. As recently as Friday, Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee tried -- and failed -- to pass a resolution asking Starr to give Congress an account of the crucial opening days of his investigation. But White House aides plan to use the release of the Tripp tapes, due Thursday, to focus attention on how Starr's whole case started out with a manipulative, selectively edited and possibly illegal wiretapping.
Like settling the Paula Jones suit, this strategy will not make impeachment hearings go away. But the Clinton camp is desperate to strengthen its political hand -- to the point, they hope, where they can persuade Congress to make a deal. Neither side of this pincer movement has succeeded yet, however. Negotiations with Jones' lawyers appear to have stalled on the size of the payoff, with the plaintiff's team reportedly holding out for a cool million. "We have put an offer on the table that should be accepted and will be accepted eventually," Jones attorney David Pyke said Sunday. When you've got the President over a barrel, you can afford not to haggle.