Turning The Tables On Starr

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WASHINGTON: Aggressively taking on Whitewater investigator Kenneth Starr, President and Mrs. Clinton's private attorney accused the special prosecutor of violating grand jury secrecy rules for the purpose of launching a smear campaign against the First Lady. Responding to a New York Times Magazine article in which unnamed Whitewater prosecutors commented on the investigation, Kendall wrote to Starr that the prosecutor's office engaged in a public relations attack inconsistent with its legal responsibilities. "The comments of you and persons in your office directly and indirectly quoted in the magazine article flout all these obligations," he said. "Grand jury secrecy rules are aimed at preventing precisely this kind of leak-and-smear damage." The Times article quoted several anonymous prosecutors as saying that former Whitewater partner James McDougal's cooperation led to new documents relating to Mrs. Clinton's legal work for McDougal's failed savings and loan and the "truthfulness of her statements" to federal investigators. The article also reported that Starr provided background assistance for the piece and that lawyers in his office made no attempt to suppress speculation that the indictment of the First Lady is under consideration. Deborah Gershman, a spokeswoman for Starr, said the prosecutor was en route to Arkansas and would likely comment after reviewing the letter further. Kendall's letter, which marks the first time he has publicly criticized Starr, comes as the prosecution has intensified the probe by filing court papers outlining "extensive evidence" of obstruction of justice. But if the material in the Times article constitutes violations of grand jury secrecy rules, Starr and his staff may be in for a taste of their own medicine.