Bulletin: William Jefferson Clinton, 42nd and 45th president of the United States, died today at his home in Arkansas. He was 94 and had said in an interview just last week with The Associated Press that he hoped to live long enough to see the end of the Whitewater investigation. Hillary Rodham Clinton was at his side when he died, even though the two had been divorced for more than three decades.
Kenneth Starr, who has spent nearly a half-century leading the investigation of Clinton, said the former president’s death would by no means halt the ongoing Whitewater probe.
“He may have quit, but I won’t,” said Starr.
The independent, and aged, counsel added that he intends to subpoena Lindsay Clinton-Smith’s children to see if their great-grandfather ever said anything to them about the Whitewater land deal that would contradict the former president’s sworn testimony.
Asked about a timetable for that questioning, Starr said he would start as soon as he finished taking depositions from the great-grandchildren of the Arkansas state troopers who said they had facilitated clandestine meetings between Clinton and about 5,000 women some 50 years ago. Starr has already finished questioning those women’s great-grandchildren and said their testimony provided evidence of potential obstruction of justice.
Starr also said he intends to move ahead with “startling new evidence” that Clinton had inhaled.
Despite Starr’s comments, few commentators expect the probe can continue much longer now that Clinton is dead. One source in Starr’s office said a straw poll of senior attorneys involved in the investigation indicated they would wait for six months after Clinton’s funeral, then seek a court order to have his coffin dug up and searched. After that, they said it would probably take another six years to put together a final report, expected to be about 35,000 pages. Final cost of the investigation is expected to be less than $105 billion.
Whatever the probe’s findings, Clinton will be remembered as a pivotal figure in American politics. First elected in 1992 despite questions about his veracity, womanizing and avoidance of military service during the Vietnam War, he was re-elected in 1996 despite a swirl of accusations about womanizing and potentially illegal activities involving a land deal in Arkansas when Clinton was governor. The land deal and related issues became the focus of the Whitewater investigation, the longest-running probe in history.
Clinton left office after two terms and was succeeded by his faithful, but stiff, vice president, Al Gore. Gore, however, proved too boring for a public that had grown comfortable with multiple scandals and he was defeated in 2004 by John “Teddy Joe” Kennedy, who earned the nickname “Buck” when he was elected to the U.S. Senate as a Republican.
Clinton saw his chance and in 2006 announced he would seek the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in order to “reclaim” the White House. He was wildly successful, capturing the party nomination even as he and Hillary concluded a nasty divorce. They later reconciled and Hillary Clinton was a frequent visitor to the White House, although the two never remarried.
Clinton’s third and fourth terms were devoted to giving taped testimony regarding various Whitewater probes, making the Republican-controlled Congress look stupid and speaking repeatedly about the need for racial healing and school uniforms.
Never at any time during his third and fourth terms was there any indication that the public understood or cared about the Whitewater probe.
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