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Starr's Flip-Flop Muddies Whitewater


From Correspondent Carl Rochelle

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Feb. 22, 1997) -- Just what the Whitewater case needed: another layer of confusion.

Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth Starr's decision Friday to withdraw the resignation he announced just two days earlier muddies an already murky situation.

Both Democrats and Republicans say Starr's indecisiveness has damaged his credibility.

"I don't see how anyone can have confidence that the decisions that he makes now will stand up to the public notion that these were independent decisions arrived at without political consideration," Stan Brand, former House Democratic counsel, said on CNN's "Crossfire."

"It probably hasn't helped his case, but I'm glad he's going to see it through," said Sen. Don Nickles (R.-Okla.).

The 3-year-old Whitewater investigation is entering a crucial stage of evaluating evidence involving President and Hillary Rodham Clinton and other high government officials.

There was widespread speculation that Starr's earlier announcement that he was leaving was a clear indication that he really didn't have a case. Some still believe that's true.

"You can't help but think there must not be anything there," said Sen. John Glenn (D-Ohio). "For the lead person to bow out at that time and then just a couple of days later decide to bow back in again after newspaper comments didn't agree with him certainly raises a lot of questions to some minds."

With the deanship of Pepperdine University's law school awaiting him in Malibu, Calif. -- and no apparent change in the investigation -- why did he decide to stay?


"All the major newspapers of the country criticized his decision," said CNN political analyst Bill Schneider.

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Even though Starr is staying, some Republicans say it's time to get the job done and move on.

"This Whitewater thing has been going on for years," said Nickles. "It needs to be brought to closure. I hope he will do that, and hopefully he'll do it soon."

There was no official reaction at the White House when Starr announced he was going to quit. Nor was there any at his decision to stay. But it has cast a cloud over what appeared to be a clear winding down of the Whitewater investigation.

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