Ken Starr, the independent counsel who relentlessly pursued former president Bill Clinton for his affair with Monica Lewinsky, said he would not comment on previous counsel he and his law firm gave in regard to his work for sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
“It’s not appropriate to discuss any counsel I or my law firm provided to a client,” Mr Starr said in an emailed statement to The Independent. “I have always tried to act with integrity and to be guided by the great principles of the American legal system.”
A new book reports that Mr Starr, a former US Solicitor General whose investigations of Mr Clinton led to the latter’s impeachment, engaged in a “scorched earth” campaign on behalf of disgraced financier Epstein, according to The Guardian.
Miami Herald reporter Julie K Brown, who reported on Epstein’s victims, writes in her new book Perversion of Justice that Mr Starr was a “fixer” who “used his political connections in the White House to get the Justice Department to review Epstein’s case.”
The book says Mr Starr and Epstein’s then-criminal defence lawyer Jay Lefkowitz sent emails “campaigning to pressure the Justice Department to drop the case,” with Mr Starr at “center stage” because of his connections to George W Bush’s administration.
Ms Brown reports that Mr Starr wrote an eight-page letter to Mark Filip, who was newly confirmed as deputy attorney general at the time and a former partner at Mr Starr’s firm Kirkland & Ellis. Ms Brown reports that Mr Starr wrote a memo similar to the Starr Report that triggered Mr Clinton’s impeachment, that accused prosecutors of trying to broker a plea deal that could benefit friends.
The book also alleges that Epstein’s legal team accused Marie Villafaña, the lead prosecutor on the case, of distorting negotiations to benefit a friend of her boyfriend, which she denied. Ms Brown reports that an unnamed prosecutor said Mr Starr was central to the legal campaign and that “it was a scorched-earth defense like I had never seen before. Marie broke her back trying to do the right thing, but someone was always telling her to back off.”
The prosecutor added that someone in Washington was “calling the shots on the case” and that even though Ms Villafaña warned that Epstein was probably still abusing underaged girls, the prosecutor said “it was clear that she had to find a way to strike a deal because a decision had already been made not to prosecute Epstein.”
Ultimately, after a secret deal, Epstein was sentenced to only 13 months in jail after being convicted of procuring a child for prostitution and soliciting a prostitute, and was allowed to work out of an office 12 hours a day. Ms Brown’s reporting for the Miami Herald is credited with revealing the details of the “non-prosecution agreement.”
Epstein was found dead his New York cell in 2019 after he was arrested on sex trafficking charges.
The Independent has contacted Jay Lefkowitz and Marie Villafaña for comment.