With these setbacks -- plus the failed impeachment trial of President Clinton and his testimony that his office and its $40 million-plus probes should never have been authorized by Congress in the first place -- Starr has helped make it difficult to remember that all did not always go wrong for him. In his earlier days he obtained important convictions against former Justice Department official Webster Hubbell and Arkansas governor Jim Guy Tucker, as well as McDougal and her deceased husband, Jim. But the fact that Starr refused to relent, on even the smallest points, "will make him go away with a reputation that is somewhat less shiny than when he began," says Novak. His critics will now be watching more closely than ever to see how he decides to proceed with the last major business before him: yet another set of Hubbell prosecutions, this time on charges of tax evasion and giving false testimony.
Kenneth Starr has decided to quit prosecuting while he’s not ahead. Late Tuesday, the Independent Counsel decided not to seek a retrial of Susan McDougal and Julie Hiatt Steele, both of whom were accused of hindering his office in separate investigations, and both of whose cases ended in mistrials earlier this year. Though the cases were different -- McDougal was accused of keeping mum about the Clintons’ Arkansas business dealings and Steele was accused of lying about the Kathleen Willey case -- "both made Starr appear to be overzealous," says TIME Washington correspondent Viveca Novak. "McDougal made him look that way for being prosecuted over and over, and Steele for being pursued even though she was such a peripheral figure."