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Independent Counsels Re-Examined

May 7, 1999 • Volume 9, Issue 17
Should the law be scrapped or saved with changes?
By Kenneth Jost

Introduction

Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr tells the House Judiciary Committee on Nov. 19, 1998, that he will not bring impeachment charges against Clinton over Whitewater, the White House Travel Office firings or the “Filegate” scandal. (Photo Credit: Scott J. Ferrell, Congressional Quarterly)
Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr tells the House Judiciary Committee on Nov. 19, 1998, that he will not bring impeachment charges against Clinton over Whitewater, the White House Travel Office firings or the “Filegate” scandal. (Photo Credit: Scott J. Ferrell, Congressional Quarterly)

The independent counsel law, first enacted after the Watergate scandals, is due to expire on June 30, and few members of Congress want to save it. Critics say the law gives independent counsels too much discretion, costs too much and lends itself to political misuse. Republicans have long complained about the law. Now, after Kenneth W.Starr's four-year investigation of President Clinton in the Whitewater and Lewinsky cases, many Democrats oppose it too. Supporters concede the law should be changed, but say it is still needed when the Justice Department would have conflicts in investigating the president or other top officials.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Ethics in Government
Jan. 31, 2014  Whistleblowers
Feb. 18, 2011  Lies and Politics
Apr. 30, 2010  Gridlock in Washington
Jun. 22, 2007  Prosecutors and Politics
Jun. 16, 2006  Pork Barrel Politics
May 07, 1999  Independent Counsels Re-Examined
Feb. 21, 1997  Independent Counsels
May 27, 1994  Political Scandals
Apr. 06, 1979  Assassinations Investigation
Dec. 05, 1973  Presidential Impeachment
May 16, 1973  Ethics in Government
May 10, 1961  Secret Societies and Political Action
Jun. 29, 1960  Conflicts of Interest
Oct. 26, 1955  Businessmen in Government
Apr. 07, 1954  Fair Investigations
Apr. 25, 1952  Congressional Immunity
Dec. 05, 1951  Ethics in Government
Jan. 28, 1948  Individual Rights and Congressional Investigations
Jul. 02, 1934  Political Reform and Federal Patronage
Mar. 07, 1924  Congressional Extravagance and the Budget
Nov. 12, 1923  Issues Developed in the Teapot Dome Inquiry
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Investigations and Discipline
Legal Professions and Resources
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