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Documents allege Bakaly leaked to the press

July 11, 2000
Web posted at: 3:39 a.m. EDT (0739 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Newly released court documents allege that Charles Bakaly, while employed as a spokesman for former Independent Counsel Ken Starr, leaked information to The New York Times about the counsel office's deliberations against President Clinton.

At issue is an article headlined, "Starr is weighing whether to indict sitting president." The item was published on January 31, 1999 during the impeachment proceedings.

bakaly
Charles Bakaly is accused of leaking information to The New York Times while he was a spokesman for former Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, about the office's deliberations against President Bill Clinton  

The article reported on Starr's deliberations, including his conclusion that he had authority to indict a sitting president, that a group of prosecutors in Starr's office favored indicting the president and that Starr's office had been examining the record of debates within the Watergate special prosecutor's office. The article attributed the information to "associates" of Starr.

Bakaly is quoted in the article as saying, "We will not discuss the plans of this office or the plans of the grand jury in any way, shape or form."


In this story:

White House cried foul

Starr's office misrepresented him, Bakaly says

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Court documents made public Monday outline the government's case against Bakaly, who faces criminal contempt of court proceedings this week. Bakaly denies the allegations.

Bakaly's lawyers have filed documents saying none of his statements was false and none was material to the court's proceedings.

An appeals court has ruled that the information was not protected by grand jury secrecy rules.

Bakaly claims that Starr's prosecutors failed to fully inform the court of all the information he had provided them.

White House cried foul

Clinton and the White House filed a motion in federal district court on February 1, 1999, calling on the court to levy contempt charges against Starr's office for disclosing grand jury information.

Starr's office began an inquiry and court documents released Monday allege Bakaly initially told prosecutors that he did not provide any information to the newspaper and that the reporter who wrote the article had told him his sources were "outside" Starr's office. However, Bakaly allegedly changed his story later while being interviewed by the FBI and conceded he was one of the unnamed sources cited by the newspaper, the documents state.

While talking to Starr's prosecutors, Bakaly said that he had provided the reporter part of a memorandum that discussed deliberations of the Watergate prosecution, according to court records. But Bakaly continued to deny he was one of the "associates" who provided information to the newspaper, the records say.

The information Bakaly told Starr's prosecutors was the basis for a declaration from Starr's office challenging the White House accusations. The declaration was filed with the court on February 9, 1999, eight days after the White House filed its motion.

In that declaration, Bakaly is quoted as saying that he "declined to discuss non-public matters" with The New York Times. "I refused to confirm or comment on what Judge Starr or the OIC (Office of Independent Counsel) was thinking or doing," and the reporter "assured me that his sources were outside the OIC," Bakaly said in the declaration.

The FBI ultimately began investigating the allegations. According to the court records, in one FBI interview, Bakaly said he may have "inadvertently confirmed" some of the reporter's information.

In a subsequent interview, Bakaly allegedly admitted he was one of the unnamed "associates" in the article. At the conclusion of the interview, Bakaly allegedly said he would "be disbarred and possibly prosecuted," according to the court records.

Starr's office misrepresented him, Bakaly says

The filing by Bakaly's attorneys raises questions about the actions taken by Starr's prosecutors. Bakaly's attorneys contend Starr's prosecutors did not tell the court about the Watergate memorandum, even though Bakaly made clear he wanted that provided to the court.

Bakaly's attorneys also claim that he "made clear that he had provided information" to the reporter for The New York Times.

Bakaly said he did not see the Starr prosecutors' declaration challenging the White House accusations before it was filed with the court.

If convicted, Bakaly could face up to six months in prison.

Bakaly resigned as Starr's spokesman in March 1999. Starr resigned as independent counsel last year and has been replaced by Robert Ray.

Reuters contributed to this report.

 
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