The last benefit is of no small importance to Mrs. Clinton, who is gearing up to run for one of New York's U.S. Senate seats and faced the possibility of being called as a witness in the Hubbell case. For Starr, the plea bargain allows him to leave the public stage with a certain level of vindication after having repeatedly pursued Hubbell on Clinton-related matters. It also sweetens somewhat the bitter taste of recent defeats -- the acquittal and mistrial of Susan McDougal and the mistrial of Juliet Hiatt Steele. Of course, it is unlikely to change the verdict of Starr's critics, who believe he needlessly helped drag the country through months of impeachment politics. Nor is it likely to help revive the statute that gave him his job: With no enthusiasts for either the law or the spectacle it unleashed, the independent counsel statute is scheduled to expire unceremoniously this Wednesday.
Hillary Clinton can breathe easy again. On Monday, according to sources cited by several news organizations, Kenneth Starr reached a plea agreement with presidential pal Webster Hubbell that ends the independent counselís last pending case. The resolution of the charges against Hubbell, expected to be announced on Wednesday, gives everyone a little something to go home with: Starr got Hubbell to plead guilty to one felony count of lying about the failed Castle Grande land deal while he was a lawyer at the Rose Law Firm in Arkansas, and also one misdemeanor count involving tax evasion. Hubbell got the prosecutors to agree to no jail time. And the Clintons -- particularly Hillary Clinton, who was a partner at the Rose Law Firm and whose name has come up in connection with Castle Grande -- will get no further embarrassments out of the case.