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] During the lengthy investigation that led to President Bill Clinton’s impeachment in 1998, the Office of the Independent Counsel (OIC), led by Kenneth Starr, leaked non-public information — including grand jury information whose release was allegedly illegal—to a stable of selected journalists, some of whom were identified by the OIC as “confidential informants.”
One of the OIC officials tasked to provide this non-public information — designed, in part, to smear Bill and Hillary Clinton — was Brett Kavanaugh, an accomplished Republican political operative whom Donald Trump has nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court...
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Brett Kavanaugh Exposed As Ken Starr’s Designated Leaker
Dan E. Moldea
September 11 | 2018
During the lengthy investigation that led to President Bill Clinton’s impeachment in 1998, the Office of the Independent Counsel (OIC), led by Kenneth Starr, leaked non-public information — including grand jury information whose release was allegedly illegal—to a stable of selected journalists, some of whom were identified by the OIC as “confidential informants.”
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One of the OIC officials tasked to provide this non-public information — designed, in part, to smear Bill and Hillary Clinton — was Brett Kavanaugh, an accomplished Republican political operative whom Donald Trump has nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court.
During the spring of 1997, I received an offer of a $100,000 advance from a conservative publisher, Regnery Publishing, to research and write a book about the controversial death of Vincent Foster, President Clinton’s deputy White House counsel. Regnery, which wanted a real crime reporter with good contacts in the law-enforcement community, gave me an end-of-the-year deadline.
In December 1997 I completed my manuscript, concluding that Foster had committed suicide. My book described a group of right-wing propagandists, posing as nonpartisan authors and journalists, who had maliciously attempted to portray Foster’s death as a murder — presumably arranged, enabled, and covered up by Bill and Hillary Clinton.
That same month, I heard that Kenneth Starr and the OIC, which was investigating the Clintons, were preparing to release a report about Foster’s death just before the publication of my book. Because I didn’t want my work to be dead-on-arrival after the release of that report, I went to the OIC to make sure that my book would be timely, as well as fair and accurate. Years earlier the OIC had released a report confirming that Foster had committed suicide, but Starr had since reopened that investigation.
At the time, Starr employed two top deputies: Hickman Ewing and Jackie Bennett.
On December 10, 1997, I spoke with Ewing, who told me that the OIC provided non-public information on an off-the-record basis to certain reporters — if the OIC knew where they were “coming from” and Ken Starr personally approved of them. He noted that the OIC had spoken to two of the writers who had published conspiracy-mongering anti-Clinton books on Foster’s death.
At the time, all Ewing knew about me — a pro-police, politically liberal crime reporter — was that Regnery was my publisher, which apparently qualified me for his time and attention. Ewing drew whatever conclusions he wanted from that information.
Ewing specifically offered to introduce me to Brett Kavanaugh, a young attorney who would supposedly supply me with the information I needed.
By the second week of January 1998, I had not heard back from Ewing. Concerned that I had lingering problems with the OIC due to an earlier conflict with Starr, I sought an introduction to Starr’s other deputy, Jackie Bennett.
On January 12, 1998, I spoke with Bennett who also knew me only as a Regnery author. When Bennett specifically asked me if I was looking for “substantive information,” I replied that I was not. Yet, he offered it to me anyway — as indicated in the following exchange in which I asked for an introduction to Kenneth Starr:
Moldea: I wanted to come and pay my respects to the independent counsel — and spend, maybe, twenty minutes with him, asking him a few questions.
Bennett: Okay. That’s really why I was calling. I talked to Judge Starr about this. And the question I had was, sort of, the ground rules: that this is just, you know, coming by as a courtesy. It’s . . .
Moldea: It’s to pay — It’s a respect call.
Bennett: It’s not looking for substantive information?..
Bennett: …Because if you are, then there are other people who really are better to talk to.
Moldea: Well, I’d like—What I’m hoping is that I can come by and see him, pay my respects to him, show him some things, and then, hopefully, he can lay hands on me and then lead me to the people with the more substantive material. I figured if I can—if I can win him over, then he would introduce me to the people who could give me the more substantive information.
Bennett: Okay, here is my thinking: If you make this request to really get access to substantive information contingent on meeting with [Starr] first, it’ll make it more difficult, because his schedule is more difficult. He travels a lot. What we can do is make the substantive person or people available to you earlier, and then . . .
Moldea: That would be fine.
Bennett: . . . And we — we’re not trying to stage manage this.
Moldea: No, no, no. That’s fine. That’s fine. Please, stage manage it. Yeah.
Bennett: But we have — the people who are most hands-on on this really have better knowledge than Ken does.
Moldea: Yeah. Oh, I’m sure that’s true. Yeah.
Bennett: And, if that’s what you’re looking for, I think that’s an easier thing to manage. And you can meet with him later. And it’ll be . . .
Moldea: That’s fine. That will be fine.
Bennett: Okay, let me—Let me make some calls for you. . . .
Shortly thereafter, I received a call from Brett Kavanaugh during which we arranged a meeting at the Old Ebbitt Grill near the White House on January 19, 1998.
Notably, I taped my on-the-record conversations with Ewing and Bennett. However, my conversation with Kavanaugh was off the record, and I have kept that conversation off the record for the past 20 years.
Just hours after my meeting with Kavanaugh, the Monica Lewinsky story broke, provoking an avalanche of news about the scandal.
On February 6, 1998, the President’s attorney, David Kendall, filed a complaint with Ken Starr, alleging that the OIC was violating federal law by illegally leaking non-public information to the media in an effort “to pressure, manipulate, and intimidate witnesses and possible witnesses, affect public opinion in your favor, and cause political harm to the President.”
That same day, Starr denied the charges.