Steele Could Face New Round in Starr Chamber

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ALEXANDRIA, Va.: Maybe they're both lying. That seems to be the verdict of the "hopelessly deadlocked" jury in the she-said, she-said trial of Julie Hiatt Steele, which ended in a mistrial Friday. Probably as confused as the rest of us, the jurors couldn't agree whether alleged presidential gropee Kathleen Willey did indeed confide in her ex-friend immediately after the supposed 1993 incident or whether Steele, who backed up Willey's story and then recanted, was telling the truth about lying after all.

It would seem the right moment for Ken Starr's prosecutors to pack up and go home. But no, says puzzled TIME Washington correspondent Viveca Novak, who figures that Starr's staff will try, try again. After all, Novak's still not sure why Starr is so eager to put Steele in irons in the first place. "Steele can't give up anybody in the White House, or anybody even close to the White House," she says. "Maybe, if he's planning to use Willey's account of the groping in his final report, a Steele conviction will give those accounts a little more credibility." Starr's defenders will say the prosecutor's just a lonely truth-seeker running down every last lead; those a little more skeptical lean toward some sort of postgame vanity. "After the McDougal loss," says Novak, "a conviction could be something of a moral victory." But it's doubtful it'll ever be anything more than that.