Contempt: A Memoir of the Clinton Investigation

Ken Starr. Sentinel, $28 (352p) ISBN 978-0-525-53613-0
The investigation that set the pattern for grandiose inquisitions of small-time presidential misdeeds is revisited in this self-righteous memoir. Starr recalls his controversial 1995–1999 stint as independent counsel probing President Bill Clinton's involvement in the Whitewater real estate deal in Arkansas—he never found sufficient evidence to charge the president or First Lady Hillary Clinton—and affair with a White House intern. He portrays the investigation, which led to the president's impeachment for perjury and obstructing justice, as a crusade for judicial integrity, painting Bill as a charming dissembler and describing Hillary as "smug," "unlikable," and "vulgar." The title is drawn from "contempt" for the law; in Starr's telling, the Clintons lied, hid documents, offered hush money, smeared opponents, and stonewalled investigators with executive privilege claims. Rebutting accusations of partisan bias and persecutory zeal—filmmaker Michael Moore ambushed Starr with actors in Puritan costumes screaming "Witch hunt!"—Starr portrays himself as the victim of a "campaign of character assassination" and argues that the impeachment ordeal could have been avoided "if the president had simply told the truth." Starr's narrative and justifications are clearly expressed, but even in his defensive account, the investigation often feels like a punitive, disproportionate pursuit of people for lying about underlying "crimes" that seem trivial to nonexistent. Readers may be left with lingering questions about the investigation's wisdom. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/17/2018
Release date: 09/04/2018
Genre: Nonfiction

Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio

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