The investigation of scandal from Watergate to Monicagate: the special prosecutor in late twentieth century American politics

Harrington, Clodagh (2006) The investigation of scandal from Watergate to Monicagate: the special prosecutor in late twentieth century American politics. Doctoral thesis, London Metropolitan University.


The aim of the thesis is to assess critically the role of the Special Prosecutor in recent US politics and to assess the rise and relative decline of the reputation of the office in the period from the Watergate scandal of the mid 1970s to the Lewinsky scandal of the late 1990s. The project will evaluate the role of the Special Prosecutor in the investigation of alleged executive wrongdoing and analyse changing trends in political, judicial, media and popular opinion, regarding the conduct of the Special Prosecutor. The chapters are divided as follows:

Chapter 1 offers an Introduction to the topic, providing an outline of and explanation for material that appears in later chapters. It also briefly refers to pre-Watergate uses of the Special Prosecutor provision.

Chapter 2 examines the hero status accorded to Watergate Special Prosecutors Archibald Cox and Leon Jaworski and the unrealistic levels of expectation about the office that this generated.

Chapter 3 deals with procedural change, particularly Title vi of the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 and the problems that came with it. Early uses of Title VI will also be covered.

Chapter 4 covers how Iran Contra demonstrated the incompatibility of political disputes and criminal investigations, with particular emphasis on the early decline of the Independent Counsel reputation.

Chapter 5 examines the relatively brief and low profile Whitewater investigation carried out by Robert Fiske and how the investigation began to evolve into a partisan conflict.

Chapter 6 explores the Kenneth Starr investigation and the perils of politicized justice, examining how the Whitewater investigation of alleged financial misconduct by President Clinton evolved into a partisanized demand for his impeachment because of personal misconduct over the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

Chapter 7 brings a conclusion of previous chapters.

There is some disagreement among scholars regarding the' acceptable plural of the term 'counsel.' The thesis will contain the plural 'counsel' throughout.

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