The self-referral to the Justice Department is a significant admission for Starr. "It essentially says that the Justice Department has the power to investigate the independent counsel," says Novak. And it also admits that there may be some wrongdoing worth investigating.
Starr has throughout his probe repeatedly been accused of being manipulative and overzealous, and some of these charges will soon get a new airing, perhaps as soon as next week at Whitewater partner Susan McDougal's contempt trial. "Her defense will highlight her contention--after being tried three times--that he has been trying to get her to lie against Clinton," says Novak. "Her lawyers will be putting Starr's office on trial and may even call him." Clinton's acquittal in the impeachment proceedings weakened Starr politically, and he does not noticeably lack enemies who would take advantage of that weakness.