Starr Karma Could Force Roberts to Reveal Notes

As part of his harassment of Hillary Clinton, Starr convinced rightwing activists judges to rule that government lawyers do not have the same right to keep secrets as private attorneys. Now Democrats want John Roberts’ notes from his time as a government lawyer and Republicans say the rules don’t apply to them.

There is no more sanctimonious figure in modern politics than Ken Starr. So it would be more than a little delicious if a piece of the legal legerdemain Starr pulled off – with the help of rightwing court decisions – to “get” the Clintons were to bite President Bush in his nether parts now:

The White House is citing the attorney-client privilege as the basis for refusing to reveal memos written by Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. when he was representing the government before the high court. At the time, Roberts was the top deputy to Solicitor Gen. Kenneth W. Starr.

But it is not clear that this legal privilege shields the work of government lawyers from the eyes of government investigators — thanks to a legal ruling won by Starr himself, when he was independent counsel investigating President Clinton.

Usually, the attorney-client privilege protects private lawyers from being forced to reveal what their clients told them. It also shields their notes and memos from prosecutors. This rule of secrecy is seen as vital to the adversarial process.

But in 1996, Starr challenged the notion that White House lawyers who worked for Clinton could invoke the attorney-client privilege when Starr sought notes they had written.

Starr argued that the lawyers worked for the people of the United States, not for the president… The dispute … resulted in a broad appeals court ruling that held that government lawyers did not have the same right to keep secrets as private attorneys did.

Starr was in pursuit of First Lady Hillary Clinton at the time. He wanted the notes taken by White House lawyers who were advising Mrs. Clinton over the course of her years of legal harassment by Starr – who we now know was working in concert with his friend Ted Olsen, who was the bag man for the rightwing nutcase philanthropist, Richard Mellon Scaife, and others in what Hillary referred to as the Vast Rightwing Conspiracy.

Starr finally got the notes after appealing all the way to the Supreme Court.

The likelihood that Democrats will prevail in this matter ranges from slim to none – providing another example, as if one were needed, of the way the Republicans play hardball and then squeal like babies when nasty ol’ libruls try to make them abide by their own rules.


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