Starr to Probe

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: Responding to Republican claims that her office could not conduct an independent investigation of the White House "Filegate" incident, Attorney General Janet Reno said she will ask a special three-judge court to give Whitewater special prosecutor Kenneth Starr the authority to oversee that probe. White House press secretary Mike McCurry said the Administration would welcome an outside investigation, and hoped that it would "shut up" GOP critics. Reno's decision to assign an independent prosecutor will deflect GOP allegations that the White House is influencing the investigation, says TIME's Jay Carney. In addition, Starr, Reno's original choice for the job, seems to be the most logical choice, because it was his Travelgate inquiry which brought the mishandling of confidential FBI files to light. Starr's discovery that the White House had requested a background materials on fired travel office chief Billy Dale led to the revelation that 407 files, some of them profiles of such prominent Republicans as House Majority Leader Dick Armey and former Secretary of State James Baker, had also been reviewed. Though the FBI file probe will just be one facet of Starr's sprawling investigation, which stretches from Washington to Arkansas, it may ultimately prove to be the most damaging to the White House, says Carney. "People have reached their threshold on Whitewater and barring any truly new developments, like criminal accusations against the Clintons, it won't likely move voters in November. The FBI is potentially a bigger issue, because it invokes concepts that everyone can relate to: invasion of privacy and abuse of federal power." -->