Magazine article Newsweek

The Last True Believer

Magazine article Newsweek

The Last True Believer

Article excerpt

Preparing to testify, an implausibly optimistic Starr grinds on.

For Ken Starr, it was business as usual. As triumphant Democrats pronounced the beginning of the end of the impeachment inquiry last week, the independent counsel and his team were back in Washington, dutifully plodding along. On Thursday Starr--still fervently searching for evidence against the president--was retracing his steps, interviewing obscure witnesses for a second and third time. Reaching back to the earliest days of the Monica Lewinsky probe, he dispatched prosecutors to Secret Service headquarters to once again question uniformed officer Sandra Verna. The investigators wanted to know what White House steward Bayani Nelvis had told her about Lewinsky's relationship with the president. Nelvis reportedly told several White House employees that he found a lipstick-smeared towel in the Oval Office pantry, where the president and Monica had been together. But when he appeared before the grand jury, he denied everything. Starr is desperate to know if someone in the White House persuaded him to change his story.

This is a critical moment for Starr. The political forces have shifted heavily against him just two weeks before he is scheduled to defend himself before the House Judiciary Committee--and the nation. Republicans, who sent Clinton 81 questions about the probe last week, worry that they may not have the votes to get an impeachment resolution through the House. So why is the independent counsel willing to further inflame his critics by fixating on a lowly steward? …

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