Special counsels and the presidency: A conversation with Ken Starr on the role of the Constitution and the ongoing Mueller investigation - AEI

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The ongoing probe by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 elections has spurred discussion of the role of independent counsels and has drawn parallels with the Whitewater investigation into President Bill Clinton.

Many have questioned how presidential power, prosecutorial independence, and constitutional law should apply to special counsel investigations. Can an independent counsel limit presidential power? Will the Mueller probe change how future special investigations are conducted?

AEI invites you to a discussion with former Special Counsel Victoria Toensing, legal scholar Saikrishna Prakash, AEI Visiting Scholar John Yoo, and Special Prosecutor Ken Starr, author of “Contempt: A Memoir of the Clinton Investigation” (Penguin, 2018), to discuss the Constitution’s role in special investigations of the presidency.

Join the conversation on social media with @AEI on Twitter and Facebook.

If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.


2:15 PM
Registration and book signing

2:45 PM
John Yoo, AEI

2:50 PM
Ken Starr, author, “Contempt: A Memoir of the Clinton Investigation”

3:05 PM
Panel discussion

Saikrishna Prakash, University of Virginia School of Law
Ken Starr, author, “Contempt: A Memoir of the Clinton Investigation”
Victoria Toensing, diGenova & Toensing

John Yoo, AEI

4:00 PM

4:10 PM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Doug Lewis at [email protected], 202.828.6027.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries or to register a camera crew, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829

Arthur C. Brooks is president of AEI. He has served as president since January 1, 2009. He is also the Beth and Ravenel Curry Scholar in Free Enterprise. Before joining AEI, Dr. Brooks was the Louis A. Bantle Professor of Business and Government in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, where he taught economics and social entrepreneurship. Before his work in academia and public policy, he spent 12 years as a classical musician in the United States and Spain. Dr. Brooks is a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times and the bestselling author of 11 books on topics including the role of government, fairness, economic opportunity, happiness, and the morality of free enterprise. His latest book is the New York Times bestseller “The Conservative Heart: How to Build a Fairer, Happier, and More Prosperous America” (Broadside Books, 2015). He has also published dozens of academic journal articles and the textbook “Social Entrepreneurship” (Prentice Hall, 2008). Dr. Brooks has a Ph.D. and an M.Phil. in policy analysis from the Pardee RAND Graduate School. He also holds an M.A. in economics from Florida Atlantic University and a B.A. in economics from Thomas Edison State College.

Saikrishna Prakash teaches constitutional law, foreign relations law, and presidential powers at the University of Virginia School of Law. His scholarship focuses on separation of powers, particularly executive powers. After law school, he clerked for Judge Laurence H. Silberman of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and for Justice Clarence Thomas of the US Supreme Court. After practicing in New York for two years, he served as a visiting professor at the University of Illinois College of Law and as an associate professor at Boston University School of Law. He then spent several years at the University of San Diego School of Law as the Herzog Research Professor of Law. Mr. Prakash has been a visiting professor at the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law and the University of Chicago Law School. He also has served as a James Madison fellow at Princeton University and visiting research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Mr. Prakash is the author of “Imperial from the Beginning: The Constitution of the Original Executive” (Yale University Press, 2015). He holds a B.A. from Stanford University and a J.D. from Yale Law School.

Ken Starr served as independent counsel, investigating the Bill Clinton administration, from 1994 to 1999. He was Time’s co-person of the year (with President Clinton) in 1998. His distinguished legal career also includes service as solicitor general under George H. W. Bush, a federal court of appeals judge nominated by President Ronald Reagan, and a law clerk to former Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger. He served as dean of Pepperdine Law School from 2004 to 2010 and as president of Baylor University from 2010 to 2016. He is now of counsel with the Lanier Law Firm. He is the author of “Contempt: A Memoir of the Clinton Investigation” (Sentinel, 2018).

Victoria Toensing, founding partner of the Washington DC, law firm diGenova & Toensing LLP, is an internationally known expert on white-collar crime, terrorism, and national security and intelligence matters. She has worked closely with Senate and House Committees, including Foreign Affairs and Foreign Relations, Intelligence, and Judiciary. She represents or has represented several high-profile clients, including Gregory N. Hicks, former deputy chief of mission in Libya and one of the Benghazi whistleblowers; Douglas Campbell, the FBI undercover informant for Uranium One; and “Jane Doe Thompson” in a successful lawsuit against the CIA. In 1997, Ms. Toensing was named special counsel by the US House of Representatives to probe the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. In 2007, she was retained by the New York State Senate to investigate Gov. Eliot Spitzer in the Troopergate matter. As deputy assistant attorney general in the Criminal Division of the US Justice Department from 1984 to 1988, she established the Justice Department’s Terrorism Unit. Ms. Toensing is a frequent guest on national television discussing politics, criminal justice, national security, and terrorism. She was legal analyst for “America’s Talking” for the O. J. Simpson trial and has cohosted CNBC’s “Equal Time” and “Rivera Live.” She was legal analyst for MSNBC for the impeachment and Senate trial of President Clinton. Ms. Toensing received her B.S. from Indiana University and graduated cum laude from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law.

John Yoo has been a professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law since 1993 and a visiting scholar at AEI since 2003. He served as a deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of the Legal Counsel of the US Department of Justice from 2001 to 2003, where he worked on constitutional and national security matters. He also served as general counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a law clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas and Judge Laurence Silberman. He is the coauthor, most recently, of “Striking Power: How Cyber, Robots, and Space Weapons Change the Rules for War” (Encounter Books, 2017), with Jeremy Rabkin. Mr. Yoo received his A.B. from Harvard College and his J.D. from Yale Law School.

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