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Starr Pledges ‘Evenhanded’ Whitewater Investigation

<i> Times Staff, Wire Services</i>

Newly selected Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr promised a “fair and objective and evenhanded” probe Saturday and said he wanted to get to work quickly.

“I don’t want to comment at all, projecting what might lay ahead,” Starr, attending the American Bar Assn. convention here, told reporters. “It’s important for me to go into this with an entirely open mind, trying to be very fair and very objective.”

Starr said he anticipated meeting soon with the man he is replacing, special counsel Robert B. Fiske Jr., and called that “an appropriate first step.” But he declined to discuss whether he would review the seven months of work already done or restart the inquiry.

“It’s premature to be commenting on the substance of the investigation and procedures and issues that arise,” he said. “I intend assiduously to be fair and objective and evenhanded and work as hard as I can.”

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Starr has the prerogative of reopening questions that Fiske had declared closed, such as whether there was any link between the Whitewater controversy and the suicide last year of Deputy White House Counsel Vincent Foster.

He could also reopen the question of whether Deputy Treasury Secretary Roger Altman lied to Congress about the extent of his contacts with the White House in his capacity of acting chairman of the Resolution Trust Corp.

On Saturday, Sen. Alfonse M. D’Amato (R-N.Y.) suggested that Starr should investigate whether any White House aides lied to Congress during the Whitewater hearings.

But Rep. Jim Leach (R-Iowa), a leading House critic on Whitewater, concluded that he was satisfied with the work Fiske had done.

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Starr, solicitor general in the Bush Administration, was named independent counsel by a three-judge panel acting under the special prosecutors law enacted recently by Congress. Fiske was selected by Atty. Gen. Janet Reno, but he held the job only provisionally because the independent counsel law had technically lapsed.


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