Eleven court cases associated with independent counsel Ken Starr’s investigation into President Bill Clinton’s relationship with Monica Lewinsky will largely be made public, a federal judge decided Monday.
The opinion in DC federal court outlines how judges may step in to disclose grand jury matters, especially after enough time has passed and when the public has an interest in them.
Though Chief Judge Beryl Howell’s opinion Monday deals with secret legal proceedings from 20 years ago, it could offer a road map for making court records in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation public eventually.
“The district court is notably absent from this list of the persons bound by” rules governing grand jury secrecy, Howell wrote.
Howell also oversees proceedings related to the grand jury assembled by Mueller.
CNN had asked to unseal the disputes related to Starr’s Lewinsky investigation in February, after researching Starr-era court actions that could shed light on the Mueller proceedings.
The records Howell weighed involved Starr’s requests for witnesses to testify before the grand jury and litigation about a grand jury leak investigation. Among the cases: a tangle over whether the president himself would be forced to testify, and whether the White House had to turn over Clinton’s meeting records and phone logs.
Another case involves the testimony of Terry Lenzner, an attorney and private investigator for Clinton who tried to avoid turning over documents. Lenzner claimed attorney-client privilege at the time — an argument also at the core of Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen’s dispute with federal investigators in New York this week.