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Starr Probing Clinton's Sex Life?

Troopers questioned about women who Clinton may have had affairs with while governor of Arkansas

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, June 25) -- News that Whitewater Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr's probe may be investigating the personal life of Bill Clinton caused an uproar Wednesday, but Starr insists that assumption is "incorrect."

Investigators for Starr have interviewed women whose names have been romantically linked to Bill Clinton while he was governor of Arkansas. The women were identified by Arkasas state troopers when questioned about the then-govenor's alleged extramarital sex life.

Sources close to the investigation told The Washington Post the interviews are an attempt to find those in whom Clinton may have confided on any Whitewater matters.

In a statement issued late Wednesday, Starr said he is following traditional law enforcement techniques in identifying and interviewing witnesses "with whom the subjects of this investigation have been associated, and who therefore may possess relevant factual information. We have no control over who those persons might or might not be."

But Democrats, and some prosecutors, reacted angrily to the reports. "As a former prosecutor, I believe the independence of this special prosecutor is seriously in question," said Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts. "I think as a matter of common sense and decency most Americans would feel outraged by the depth of the personal focus that this investigation into a land transaction is now taking."

Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle called the line of questioning "unnecessary, and in our view it exceeds the bounds within which we felt this special prosecutor was investigating."

Democratic strategist James Carville, who frequently crosses swords with Starr, told CNN's "Inside Politics," "This thing has degenerated into some kind of seedy, back-alley deal. What the man needs to do... is put up or shut up, and get out of town. How long is this thing going to last?"

Coming down on Starr's side was former special prosecutor Joseph diGenova, who also appeared on CNN's "Inside Politics" and said that even such unsavory questions are often necessary. "It is not uncommon in such investigations to go after disgruntled former employees or spurned lovers," diGenova said.

"For example, in most federal criminal investigations, frequently the sources of very, very significant information, as informants, may very well be former girlfriends, former disgruntled employees," diGenova said. "They may not know anything about the land transactions literally; the reason they're being talked to, I believe, from what I've read, is that the president may have said something to them while he was governor about those transactions."

The two troopers who spoke to the Post, Roger Perry and Ronald B. Anderson, say they were asked about 12 to 15 women by name, including Paula Jones, who has filed suit against Clinton for allegedly sexually harassing her in 1991, and Gennifer Flowers, whose allegations of a 12-year affair with Clinton rocked the 1992 presidential campaign.

The troopers had been questioned before by investigators, but the new line of questioning marks a shift, one of the troopers told the Post.

"In the past, I thought they were trying to get to the bottom of Whitewater," Perry told the Post. "This last time, I was left with the impression that they wanted to show he was a womanizer ... All they wanted to talk about was women."

Perry told CNN he had three separate talks, each lasting about two hours, the last about two months ago.

Perry says he was asked "mostly about Bill Clinton's women, if I knew certain women, if I knew he was having affairs with them."

"I told them if I knew the women, if I knew he was having an affair with them, I said 'Yeah,'" Perry said. "But they asked me about women I didn't know."

Perry told CNN that he didn't ask the attorneys why they wanted to talk with him about the matters. "I just took it for granted it was because it was the Paula Jones thing," he said.

The only comment to CNN from Starr's office came from his deputy, John Bates, who said such interviews are "perfectly appropriate."

"We are continuing to gather relevant facts from whatever witness, male or female, may be available," Bates said. "It is our obligation to acquire information from friends, business associates or other acquaintances or confidants."

As for Paula Jones, the president's attorney in that case, Robert Bennett, speaking with CNN by telephone in New York, charged that Starr, before he had become independent counsel, had prepared a friend-of-the-court brief defending Jones' legal right to sue the president.

The White House and Clinton's Whitewater lawyers are saying absolutely nothing, hoping the flap harms Starr more than the president.

CNN's Bob Franken contributed to this report.

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