Ken Starr, former U.S. solicitor general, spoke to Hillsdale stu­dents about Robert Mueller’s inves­ti­gation in light of his role with the White­water Inves­ti­gation. Wiki­media Commons

Ken Starr is an attorney best known for his role as inde­pendent counsel in the White­water Inves­ti­gation from 1994 – 1998. Starr, along with former Pres­ident Clinton, was named Time’s Man of the Year in 1998. He served as dean of Pep­perdine Law School from 2006 – 2010 and pres­ident of Baylor Uni­versity from 2010 – 2016. He gave a lecture on Thursday, hosted by The Fed­er­alist Society.


Most stu­dents are too young to remember the Clinton Inves­ti­gation. What was your role in the inves­ti­gation?

I was serving as inde­pendent counsel in the White­water inves­ti­gation and then other inves­ti­ga­tions that were added to my port­folio.


So it started with White­water and then snow­balled from there?

I wouldn’t use the term snow­balled. Attorney General Janet Reno asked me to take on addi­tional matters for inves­ti­gation, and I acceded to each one of her requests. Those included the travel office firings and the FBI files scandal.


Inves­ti­gating a sitting pres­ident, I would assume, comes with a fair amount of pressure and scrutiny. How did you handle it?

Faith, family, and friends. I always tried to conduct myself pro­fes­sionally, but the going fre­quently got rough. I relied heavily on those three pillars.

According to various media outlets, you’ve expressed regret that you ever asked the DOJ to allow you to head the inves­ti­gation. Do you regret it and why?

I think there’s been a mis­in­ter­pre­tation. I’ve said that I regretted that the Attorney General didn’t have another readily available alter­native, another indi­vidual to appoint as inde­pendent council. There were a number of reasons under­lying that sen­timent. First and foremost, I was eager to com­plete my duties and become Dean of Pep­perdine Law School in Malibu. The second was the inves­ti­gation enjoyed great suc­cesses including 14 criminal con­vic­tions, but it became increas­ingly con­tro­versial.


What advice do you have for stu­dents that are looking to go into your line of work?

Study extremely hard, but always follow your con­science. Make a prayerful decision about right and wrong. Then, hold tena­ciously to what you believe is right.


Is there any­thing you want to tell Hillsdale stu­dents?

Give thanks that you’re at Hillsdale, and keep sup­porting Hillsdale when you enter the ranks of alumni. Private liberal edu­cation is always facing many chal­lenges, and Hillsdale is showing such remarkable strength and endurance. One of the reasons it does is because of its countless friends and many thou­sands of alumni. Be a grateful alumnus or alumna.