Ken Starr, the lawyer who gained notoriety for leading the high-profile investigation that resulted in former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment, died Tuesday at age 76.
The native Texan died in Houston of complications from surgery, Starr’s family first told CNBC in a statement. KWTX-TV reported that Starr had been dealing with a lengthy illness.
The lawyer is best known for leading the so-called Whitewater investigation, which began as a probe of real estate investments by the Clintons before expanding to include the then-president’s sexual misconduct toward young White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
The investigation unfolded into a scandal that plagued the Clinton administration in the mid-1990s with its salacious details. The House impeached Clinton — the first time a U.S. president was impeached in well over a century — on perjury and obstruction of justice charges after he lied about the allegations concerning him and Lewinsky. He was later acquitted of the charges.
Former President Ronald Reagan appointed Starr to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1983, where he remained on the bench until former President George H.W. Bush appointed him U.S. solicitor general in 1989. These roles made Starr widely respected in the Republican Party, and the Whitewater investigation made him a household name.
After the probe, Starr took on leadership roles in academia, serving as the dean of Pepperdine Law School in 2004 and as president of Baylor University in 2010. He was removed from his post in 2016 after an independent report found that administrators mishandled sexual abuse cases involving football players at the Christian university.
The report found that Baylor administrators directly discouraged students from reporting sexual assaults. Starr initially tried to stay at the school as a law professor before eventually resigning.
Starr made headlines again in recent years when he agreed to join outgoing President Donald Trump’s legal defense team for his second impeachment trial. Unlike the Whitewater probe, Starr chose to argue against impeachment for Trump, who was accused of inciting an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Trump was both impeached and acquitted for a second time.