— -- Ken Starr was perceived as one of Bill Clinton's most notable critics during the controversial investigations of the 1990s, but the former president seems to have left a favorable impression.
Starr made somewhat unexpectedly flattering comments about Clinton recently, before news broke that Starr himself was demoted from his role as president of Baylor University to that of chancellor amid concerns about the school's handling of sexual assault allegations.
"President Clinton was, and perhaps still is, the most gifted politician of the baby-boomer generation," Starr said at an event at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia earlier this month.
Starr, 69, who investigated members of the Clinton administration as an independent counsel, praised Clinton's "remarkable gifts," specifically highlighting his "genuine empathy."
"I've spent a lot of time in the great state of Arkansas and, leave aside the unpleasantness, his genuine empathy for human beings is absolutely clear. It is powerful, it is palpable and the folks in Arkansas really understood that," Starr said.
The panel discussion focused on the presidency and the Constitution, with Starr and other participants comparing different aspects of various administrations.
In talking about post-presidential careers, Starr praised Clinton for his charitable work, and talked about how former presidents’ work after leaving the White House can become a "redemptive" process.
"President Carter set a very high standard, which President Clinton clearly continues to follow," Starr said.
The subjects of some of Starr’s investigations -- including former White House intern Monica Lewinsky and the suicide of former deputy White House counsel Vince Foster -- have resurfaced in this year's presidential campaign.
Starr led one of multiple investigations into Foster's death and issued a 114-page report in 1997 confirming the outcome of the earlier findings, which ruled the death a suicide.
Starr's investigation of Monica Lewinsky grew out of his initial probe into the Whitewater real estate controversy.