Kristol attacked Fitzgerald's "politically motivated attempt to wound the Bush administration," but he defended Starr investigation

››› ››› ROB MORLINO

William Kristol attacked special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation into the 2003 leaking of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity as "absurd" and a "politically motivated attempt to wound the Bush administration." He also asserted that Fitzgerald is "out to discredit the administration." However in 1998, Kristol attacked as "Nixonian" critics of independent counsel Kenneth Starr, who sought and obtained authorization to expand the scope of his original mandate to investigate the Whitewater deal, which yielded no charges of wrongdoing by Clinton, into an investigation of the Monica Lewinsky controversy.

During the April 9 edition of Fox News Sunday, Weekly Standard editor William Kristol attacked special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation into the 2003 leaking of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity as "absurd" and a "politically motivated attempt to wound the Bush administration." He also asserted that Fitzgerald's case "is crumbling," and criticized Fitzgerald for "refusing to close ... his investigation of [White House senior adviser] Karl Rove and other people," concluding that Fitzgerald is "out to discredit the administration." However in 1998, Kristol attacked as "Nixonian" critics of independent counsel Kenneth Starr, who, as Media Matters for America previously noted, sought and obtained authorization to expand the scope of his original mandate to investigate the Whitewater deal, which yielded no charges of wrongdoing by Clinton, into an investigation of the Monica Lewinsky controversy.

During the February 22, 1998, broadcast of ABC's This Week, Kristol maintained that there was a "White House strategy" intent on "going after Kenneth Starr and his team." Kristol added, "I believe the Clinton White House is in the process of launching an attack on Starr, his prosecutors, other journalists of a sort that really is Nixonian. It really is Nixonian." Later, during the April 5, 1998, broadcast of This Week, after a federal judge dismissed Paula Jones's sexual harassment civil suit against Clinton, Kristol maintained that Starr's investigation should continue, and that Starr "should give a report" to Congress. "It ain't over until Ken Starr sings," Kristol said, adding: "We'll see what happens when Ken Starr delivers a serious report, outlining what I think is pretty good evidence of a conspiracy to obstruct justice, to Congress."

Kristol's attack on Fitzgerald came during a Fox News Sunday roundtable discussion about the April 6 revelation that court documents from Fitzgerald's investigation indicate that I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, testified that he was authorized by President Bush in July 2003 to disclose portions of a classified National Intelligence Estimate (NIE). According to Fitzgerald, Libby testified that this disclosure was intended to rebut former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, who had charged that the Bush administration distorted intelligence about Iraq's supposed nuclear weapons program in making the case for war. Libby has been indicted in the investigation for obstruction of justice, perjury, and false statements in connection with allegations that the Bush administration leaked the identity of Plame, who is Wilson's wife.

From the April 9 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday:

KRISTOL: You know the leak story is absurd. But I now think the whole prosecution is absurd. And I have hesitated to say this because I have friends who respect Fitzgerald. But I now think it's a politically motivated attempt to wound the Bush administration.

[...]

KRISTOL: It strikes -- seems to me that Fitzgerald's case is crumbling. He's refusing to close, incidentally, his investigation of Karl Rove and other people. You can read his 39-page rebuttal to Libby. He focuses now on Cheney. He is now out to discredit the Bush administration. He has bought the argument that there was something improper about the Bush administration responding to Joe Wilson's charges. And that's the real meaning of what's happened in this last few days, which is very dangerous for the Bush administration. They now have a special prosecutor out to discredit -- not to convict Scooter Libby, but out to discredit the administration.

[...]

KRISTOL: And when you read Fitzgerald's response, the 39-page document he released Wednesday night, which is how we know about Libby's apparently truthful statement to the grand jury, it is clear that Fitzgerald is going after the White House in general. He does not simply want Scooter Libby on a technical and, I think, dubious perjury charge.

From the February 22, 1998, broadcast of ABC's This Week:

KRISTOL: There are not a whole lot of Democrats defending the president. But the other half of the White House strategy -- George [Stephanopoulos, ABC news analyst] mentioned half of it, which was stall and delay. The other half is search and destroy. They're going after Kenneth Starr and his team. Harry Thomasson, the Hollywood producer, who's an old friend of the president, has virtually moved into the White House in the last three weeks, is calling reporters in Washington, urging them to dig into Kenneth Starr's private life and sort of suggesting interesting things they might find. I have no knowledge they're going to find anything. I know Kenneth Starr slightly. I'd be pretty surprised.

SAM DONALDSON (co-host): You mean what movies he rented?

KRISTOL: No. I believe the Clinton White House is in the process of launching an attack on Starr, his prosecutors, other journalists of a sort that really is Nixonian. It really is Nixonian.

COKIE ROBERTS (co-host): Cowboy prosecutors, they're calling them.

From the April 5, 1998, broadcast of ABC's This Week:

KRISTOL: Well, I think it ain't over until Ken Starr sings, obviously. And -- and people are overestimating the importance of what happened this week. We'll see what happens when Ken Starr delivers a serious report, outlining what I think is pretty good evidence of a conspiracy to obstruct justice, to Congress. Congress may just decide the country's peace -- peace, prosperity -- no need to do anything.

[...]

KRISTOL: I don't have great hopes for Congress, just as George [Stephanopoulos] -- George doesn't have great hopes for the president. I don't have great hopes for the Republican Congress. They cannot avoid their duty. I think this new idea of indicting Monica Lewinsky is ultimately not going to happen. Starr should give a report to Congress. It's Congress' responsibility to have serious hearings about whether the president obstructed justice, suborned perjury, and the like, or not. I think at least they have to have hearings. I think that'll happen. I don't think they can dodge that bullet even if they wish to. And what that means incidentally is that the whole last half of this year is going to be dominated by the Clinton scandals. It is going to be the dominant issue of 1998. The Clinton administration doesn't want it to be. The Republican Congress doesn't want it to be. But neither is going have its wish.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, War in Iraq
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel, FOX Broadcasting Company
Person
William Kristol
Show/Publication
FOX News Sunday
Stories/Interests
CIA Leak Investigation
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