Kenneth Starr’s former spokesman has been charged with criminal contempt and ordered to stand trial next week in a case involving news leaks during the Monica Lewinsky investigation.
Charles Bakaly is being prosecuted by the government before U.S. District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson, who as the chief judge of the federal court in Washington oversees matters involving grand jury secrecy.
A trial has been scheduled for July 13, according to documents at the U.S. District Court.
Johnson signed an order on June 29 granting Bakaly’s request for a trial of the criminal contempt charge, according to the documents reviewed by The Associated Press.
Leaks Lead To Prosecution The court documents state Bakaly faces trial over statements he made in connection with investigations into alleged leaks from the special prosecutor’s office investigating the Lewinsky case.
The judge, who presided over most of the legal cases during the Lewinsky impeachment drama, also solicited the views of President Clinton’s lawyers and Starr’s successor, Robert Ray, as to whether sealed documents in the case should be made public at trial.
Bakaly was unavailable for comment, his wife said today. His attorneys, Gary Coleman and Michelle Roberts, were also unavailable, their offices said.
Spurred By Clinton AttorneysThe trial is the latest twist in a case spurred by Clinton’s lawyers.
During the height of the impeachment investigation, the president’s attorneys, David Kendall and Nicole Seligman, launched a legal assault accusing Starr and his staff of illegally leaking to the news media information covered by federal grand jury secrecy rules about the Lewinsky case.
Starr’s office denied any illegal leaks, but his staff was forced to undergo an intense investigation directed by the court.
In the midst of that investigation, Bakaly abruptly resigned as Starr’s spokesman after his former boss referred him to the Justice Department in connection with a press leak two months earlier.
The New York Times, citing sources, reported July 31, 1999 that Starr had concluded the president could legally be indicted while still in office.
Bakaly went on national television the day after the article appeared and said the “information did not come from our office. … We did not leak this information. … We do not leak grand jury information.”
Starr made the referral to the Justice Department after his office conducted its own inquiry and concluded Bakaly may have had some involvement in the leak, officials said.
Starr’s Office Exonerated Johnson ultimately concluded there was evidence that Starr’s office may have been behind as many as two dozen improper leaks. Starr appealed, and won a key ruling from an appeals court. Among other things, the court ruled that the information in the Times articles was not covered by grand jury secrecy and thus was not an improper leaks.
Bakaly, however, was forced to face the criminal contempt charge.
Bakaly is the second major figure in the impeachment drama to face contempt charges.
Clinton was accused of civil contempt by a federal judge for false statements in the Paula Jones case and ordered to pay a fine.