Just A Sex Cover-Up?: High Crimes? Or Just A Sex Cover-Up?

Starr shows all the ways Clinton tried to keep Monica quiet. It's not Watergate

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Starr believes that Jordan and other Clinton pals steered some $540,000 in consultant contracts to former Associate Attorney General Webster Hubbell in exchange for his silence about an Arkansas land deal Starr was investigating. Starr saw the same pattern in Jordan's attempts to steer Lewinsky into a job. But Hubbell is barely mentioned in Starr's report. The independent counsel repeats the Hubbell allegation but does not explore it, or any other aspect of Whitewater. (Starr says he has not decided "what steps to take, if any," in referring any other matters to Congress.) The report is also silent on Travelgate and the White House's alleged misuse of fbi files, implying that no impeachable offenses have been uncovered in those matters. As Clinton's defenders like to say, Starr spent four years and $40 million trying to prove substantive presidential wrongdoing, came up dry, and then used Linda Tripp's tapes to set a trap to catch the President in sordid personal behavior. Clinton's obstruction of justice--shameful though it may have been--amounted to trying to wriggle out of that trap.

Ken Starr's report, though lacking the balance of Watergate independent counsel Leon Jaworski's effort 24 years ago, does one thing quite clearly: it offers a portrayal of a President who seems cunning but emotionally vacant, a man wasting his talents and powers on an empty affair with a woman who was in many ways still a child. Public revulsion may yet drive Clinton from office--not because he has been proved a Nixonian crook but because he has been proved an X-rated cartoon.

--With reporting by J.F.O. McAllister, Jodie Morse, Elaine Shannon and Michael Weisskopf/Washington

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