Bill Clinton fires subtle dig at Ken Starr following the prosecutor’s death

Bill Clinton smirks in response to death of prosecutor Ken Starr but has ‘nothing to say’ about his old nemesis except that ‘his family loved him’

  • Clinton chose his words carefully in response to recent death of Ken Starr
  • Starr’s sprawling investigation led to then-president’s impeachment in 1998 
  • Clinton had ‘nothing to say’ except that ‘he died with the love of his family’
  • Monica Lewinsky reacted with similar words of sympathy for Starr’s family 
  • She once said that Starr’s investigation made her life a ‘living hell’ 

Bill Clinton has fired a subtle dig at his old nemesis Ken Starr, the former independent counsel whose sprawling investigations led to the then-president’s impeachment in 1998.

In an interview with CNN on Sunday, Clinton was asked for his reaction to the death of Starr, who passed away last week in a Houston hospital at age 76 following complications from surgery.

‘I read the obituary, and I realized that his family loved him, and I think that’s something to be grateful for. And when your life is over, that’s all there is to say,’ responded Clinton, according to a clip shared by Mediaite.

‘But I was taught not to talk about people that, you know — I have nothing to say, except that I’m glad he died with the love of his family,’ Clinton added. 

Bill Clinton reacted to Ken Starr's death, saying: 'I was taught not to talk about people that, you know -- I have nothing to say, except that I'm glad he died with the love of his family'

Bill Clinton reacted to Ken Starr’s death, saying: ‘I was taught not to talk about people that, you know — I have nothing to say, except that I’m glad he died with the love of his family’

Starr died last week in a Houston hospital at age 76 following complications from surgery. He is best remembered for his dogged investigation of Bill Clinton in the late 90s

Starr died last week in a Houston hospital at age 76 following complications from surgery. He is best remembered for his dogged investigation of Bill Clinton in the late 90s

Starr, a prominent attorney and former federal appellate judge, was best known for his dogged probe of Clinton in the 1990s, an investigation of the Whitewater real estate controversy that eventually came to focus on the president’s Oval Office affair with Monica Lewinsky. 

Lewinsky once wrote that Starr had made her life a ‘living hell’ but reacted with similar restrained tact to the news of his death.

‘As I’m sure many can understand, my thoughts about ken starr bring up complicated feelings,’ she tweeted last week. ‘But of more importance, is that i imagine it´s a painful loss for those who love him.’

Lewinsky was a White House intern in the mid-1990s, in her early 20s, when she began a relationship with Clinton, one that Starr would document in exhaustive, explicit detail. 

Clinton’s impeachment charges stemmed from his false denial of the relationship in his 1998 grand jury testimony, and in a deposition in a sexual harassment case filed against him by Paula Jones of Arkansas where Clinton had been governor. 

Though the House voted to impeach, he was acquitted in the Senate and served out his second term in office. 

Monica Lewinsky once wrote that Starr had made her life a 'living hell' but reacted with similar restrained tact to the news of his death

Monica Lewinsky once wrote that Starr had made her life a ‘living hell’ but reacted with similar restrained tact to the news of his death

Starr had initially been retained to look into an Arkansas real estate deal Bill and Hillary Clinton were involved in, but his investigation shifted after he learned of allegations about the president’s private behavior. 

Lewinsky denied their affair in a sworn affidavit, but did not know that her former colleague, Linda Tripp, had been taping their phone conversations about Bill Clinton and would turn them over to Starr.

Lewinsky would recall with horror being interrogated for hours in 1998 by Starr’s prosecutors – but not Starr himself – and threatened with prison if she didn’t cooperate with their investigation, a demand she initially refused. 

Months later, she agreed to testify about the affair, and turned over to prosecutors a dress stained with the president’s semen, in return for immunity.

Lewinsky later wrote that she was diagnosed with ‘post-traumatic stress disorder, mainly from the ordeal of having been publicly outed and ostracized,’ and was for years subjected to crude jokes. 

But starting with a Vanity Fair essay in 2014 and a TED talk she gave in 2015 on ‘The Price of Shame,’ she has become a widely respected anti-bullying activist. 

Starr's investigation eventually came to focus on the president's Oval Office affair with Monica Lewinsky, then a White House intern in her 20s

Starr’s investigation eventually came to focus on the president’s Oval Office affair with Monica Lewinsky, then a White House intern in her 20s

Starr enjoys applause after completing his testimony at a United States House Judiciary Committee hearing on pending Articles of Impeachment against Clinton in 1998

Starr enjoys applause after completing his testimony at a United States House Judiciary Committee hearing on pending Articles of Impeachment against Clinton in 1998 

David Letterman and John Oliver are among those who have apologized for once mocking her.

Writing in Vanity Fair in 2018, Lewinsky remembered finally encountering Starr in person, at a Greenwich Village restaurant the previous Christmas Eve. 

Starr stepped forward with a ‘warm, incongruous smile,’ and introduced himself to Lewinsky, who was dining with her family. 

‘Ken Starr asked me several times if I was `doing O.K.´ A stranger might have surmised from his tone that he had actually worried about me over the years. His demeanor, almost pastoral, was somewhere between avuncular and creepy. He kept touching my arm and elbow, which made me uncomfortable,’ she wrote.

‘I turned and introduced him to my family. Bizarre as it may sound, I felt determined, then and there, to remind him that, 20 years before, he and his team of prosecutors hadn’t hounded and terrorized just me but also my family – threatening to prosecute my mom (if she didn’t disclose the private confidences I had shared with her), hinting that they would investigate my dad´s medical practice, and even deposing my aunt, with whom I was eating dinner that night.’

Starr would also write about Lewinsky in his 2018 memoir ‘Contempt,’ describing how ‘Monica screamed, she cried, she pouted, and complained bitterly about her scheming, no-good, so-called friend (Tripp).’ 

In 1998, Ken Starr departs the White House in Washington, DC, after questioning Bill Clinton in person for more than five hours regarding Clinton's involvement with Lewinsky

In 1998, Ken Starr departs the White House in Washington, DC, after questioning Bill Clinton in person for more than five hours regarding Clinton’s involvement with Lewinsky

But their threats, and the urging of Lewinsky’s mother to accept the prosecutors’ terms, did not change her mind.

‘Monica overruled her mother. She would fall on her sword rather than implicate the president of the United States,’ Starr wrote. ‘It was becoming increasingly clear: in thinking she was a naive, starstruck young woman in love who would quickly cooperate, we underestimated her.’ 

‘In her determination to protect the president, Monica kept a team of experienced FBI agents and career prosecutors twiddling their thumbs for much of the day.’

In his later years, Starr became a member of former president Donald Trump’s defense team during his second impeachment trial in the Senate, where Trump was acquitted. 

Prior to his involvement in the controversial special counsel investigation, Starr’s impressive reputation seemed to place him on a path to becoming a Supreme Court justice.

At age 37, he became the youngest person to serve on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, where chief Justice John Roberts and justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia also had served. 

From 1989 to 1993, Starr was the solicitor general in the administration of president George H.W. Bush, arguing 25 cases before the Supreme Court. 

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