A nearly 20-year-old report on possible violations of grand jury secrecy during the independent counsel investigations of the Clinton White House was unsealed Thursday and cleared the office headed by Kenneth Starr of leaking secret information.
The report made no mention of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, whose service on Starr’s staff during the 1990s triggered a court request by a nonprofit ethics watchdog, American Oversight, to unseal the report before Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings begin Sept. 4. Kavanaugh had been on Starr’s staff investigating the suicide of Clinton White House attorney Vincent Foster, the Monica Lewinsky affair and other matters in the wide-ranging investigation.
In September 1998, Chief Judge Norma Holloway Johnson of the federal district court in Washington appointed Judge John Kern III to investigate possible leaks of grand jury matters after complaints filed by attorneys for then-President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton.
Kern examined 24 news accounts in which Holloway Johnson found potential grand jury leaks. In his report, Kern said most of the unnamed sources in those news reports could be attributed to persons outside of Starr’s office.
In fact, a number of them, Kern suggested, could logically have been lawyers for targets or witnesses in the investigation. The Trump White House, commenting Thursday, said the report “fully exonerates” Kavanaugh.
One attorney within Starr’s office, however, did appear to make unauthorized disclosures, according to the report, but that person’s name remains sealed. The U.S. Justice Department, which reviewed the report before it was unsealed, said one person had objected to its release and that person was not Kavanaugh. The department did not object to the unsealing of the report, which was formally ordered Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth in Washington.
We’ve posted the unsealed report here: