Ken Starr, the prosecutor who led the relentless Whitewater investigation into then-President Bill Clinton and whose report on the case revealed intimate details of Clinton’s extramarital sexual relations, died Tuesday in Houston following complications from surgery. He was 76.
His death was announced by his family in a statement.
Nominated by former President Ronald Reagan for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Washington, D.C., circuit, Starr was U.S. solicitor general under President George H.W. Bush. He received his greatest public attention – political opponents might say infamy – as independent counsel during the Clinton Administration. Starr had initially been appointed to investigate the suicide of deputy White House counsel Vince Foster and the Whitewater real estate investments of Clinton.
The investigation would grow to encompass much more than its initial mission: After Clinton denied having “sexual relations” with former intern Monica Lewinsky, allegations of perjury led to the president’s impeachment. Clinton was subsequently acquitted at a trial before the United States Senate.
After more than four years of investigation, Starr filed the Starr Report, which included lurid details that would become part of the ’90s zeitgeist, including, as evidence, Lewinsky’s blue Gap dress that Starr said had traces of Clinton’s DNA on it, and grist for countless late-night talk show jokes.
In the decades following the Clinton investigation, Starr became a consistent presence on Fox News, appearing on, among others, Outnumbered, Cavuto Live, Hannity, Fox and Friends, Tucker Carlson Tonight and America’s Newsroom.
In the 2021 FX series about the scandal, Impeachment: American Crime Story, Starr was portrayed by actor Dan Bakkedahl. The series currently is available to stream on Hulu.
Starr would also take part in other high-profile legal cases: In 2007, he joined the team defending Jeffrey Epstein against allegations of rape (a plea bargain resulted in Epstein serving 13 months on work release), and in 2020 the attorney was part of then-President Donald Trump’s legal team in a Senate impeachment trial.
Starr is survived by wife of 52 years, Alice Mendell Starr, children Randall P. Starr, Carolyn S. Doolittle and Cynthia S. Roemer, their spouses and nine grandchildren.
In a statement on behalf of the family, son Randall Starr said, “We are deeply saddened with the loss of our dear and loving Father and Grandfather, whom we admired for his prodigious work ethic, but who always put his family first. The love, energy, endearing sense of humor, and fun-loving interest Dad exhibited to each of us was truly special, and we cherish the many wonderful memories we were able to experience with him. He is now with his Lord and Savior.”
Starr will be buried at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin.
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