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Starr Says Lewinsky Was Immature

August 10, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr says Monica Lewinsky was ``very immature″ and failed to understand the seriousness of her role in a scandal that ``cost the country terribly.″

Interviewed this morning on NBC’s ``Today″ program, Starr also praised the career staff of the Justice Department, while pointedly refusing to say do the same for their boss, Attorney General Janet Reno.

Starr, who has spent five years investigating President Clinton and his wife, Hillary, lamented that his work was viewed as ``a match between two individuals″ _ himself and the president. Starr said he had acted professionally, but ``in the process of remaining silent, we allowed a sense to develop that there were other motivations at work.″

Asked his thoughts about Ms. Lewinsky, whose sexual relationship with Clinton was at the heart of the investigation, Starr said, ``She was very immature and I think failed to, in any way, appreciate the gravity of what she was doing, including, frankly, assisting in the process of putting our leader _ who has to accept his own responsibility _ in the most unfortunate situation.″

When it comes to discussing Reno, Starr may have mastered the art of saying a lot without saying anything:

Question: ``Do you think that the attorney general has conducted herself properly during all this?″

Answer: ``I don’t want to comment.″

Q: ``Some have said that she has protected the president.″

A: ``I don’t want to comment. Let me say this, I believe that the career people at the Justice Department are honorable, decent people. We have a very, and have enjoyed a very good relationship with them over the past five years.″

Q: ``So you won’t say the same thing about the attorney general.″

A: ``I’m not going to comment.″

Q: ``You leave the impression that you do not believe that she’s been honorable and decent throughout this.″

A: ``I’m simply not going to comment.″

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