Ken Starr is under the judicial microscope again, at least by proxy. Starr's old spokesman from the Monicagate days, Charles Bakaly, will be in the criminal dock starting July 13 for denying alleged leaks from Starr's office during the independent counsel's 1999 investigation into all things President Clinton, according to court documents released late Thursday. Here's the hot quote, uttered on national TV by Bakaly after The New York Times, citing sources, reported on July 31, 1999, that Starr had concluded the President could legally be indicted while still in office:
"The information did not come from our office," Bakaly said. "We did not leak this information... We do not leak grand jury information."
The White House, of course, had long scoffed at that, accusing Starr of leaking anything and everything in order to jolt the press into keeping his Clinton hunt politically viable. Starr also vehemently denied responsibility for the leaks, and later turned the legal lamplight on Bakaly himself, referring him to the Justice Department for investigation. Bakaly resigned soon after.
Is the unlikable Bakaly a fall guy for a sinister independent counsel, trapped by a McCurry-like ignorance of the dirty dealing going on behind his back? Or are Bakaly and Starr both blameless, betrayed by a leaky staffer? Maybe everybody's lying in those heady days of scandal management, press manipulation (and re-manipulation) was certainly par for the course.
With any luck, U.S. District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson, veteran of many an impeachment-era court ruling, will get to the bottom of it. And this time there'll be no leaking all parties have to make relevant documents public. By next week, we could be reliving another impeachment tradition: the data dump. About 18 months after everybody stopped reading.