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Why Ken Starr Would Apologize to Bill Clinton

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," February 16, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Ken Starr is known for being an appellate judge. The solicitor general of the United States, the independent counsel that investigated President Clinton and the dean of Pepperdine's law school. Now Ken Starr has a brand new job. He went "On the Record."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VAN SUSTEREN: Ken, nice to see you.

KEN STARR, PRESIDENT, BAYLOR UNIVERSITY: Nice to see you Greta, thank you.

VAN SUSTEREN: Ken, I can help but notice what is over your right shoulder, Baylor. What's this all about? Actually, I know what it's all about, but you tell us.

(LAUGHTER)

STARR: Well, the good folks at Baylor have come to a very questionable judgment and I'm the beneficiary of it that I should become the 14th president of this great university in my native state. Founded in 1845, Baylor has a rich and storied tradition, so I'm very proud to have been asked by the board of regents to serve as its next president.

VAN SUSTEREN: I know it is exciting, a big job. I can't help but think you are giving up Malibu?

(LAUGHTER)

STARR: Well Malibu is a great place and Pepperdine is a wonderful place. Greta, as you may know, I'm a native Texan. In fact I'm a fifth generation Texan. My ancestors on my father's side settled from the great state of Illinois about 100 miles from here in 1848.

So the roots run very deep here in this great state, and it is such a great university that I was honored to be called to serve. And besides we have the river here.

VAN SUSTEREN: Indeed. What is the difference between dean of Pepperdine and president of Baylor? Besides the geographical difference, what is the difference?

STARR: The university of course is a very large and complex institution. It does have a very fine law school and other professional schools.

But it is also a research university with a high level of research activity as well as a very large college of arts and sciences. So it's a huge university, about 14,000 students. That's many more than we have at Pepperdine. So it's very large, very complex.

So it is going to take me a while obviously to understand the full range of the activities here. But I'm going to work hard and try to bring a lot of energy, and hopefully that energy will be reciprocated by the 140,000 alumni around the world, living alumni.

Baylor has a great brand certainly here in the southwest, but really beyond. So I hope to be able to tell the Baylor story, which is a great and unfolding story of excellence and humanity.

VAN SUSTEREN: It would be nice if each of those 140,000 sent in $20 to the alumni fund to get you started.

STARR: Oh, you are great. Could you add a zero to the $20? But we'll take $20 from the 144,000. You are absolutely right.

Higher educating has so many challenges, and private higher education has a special challenge of ever rising tuition costs. We try to keep those costs down, but it's very expensive. So that is one of the ways that alumni and friends can help.

Help your alma mater by contributing and helping students especially in this kind of economy. Students are just not able to do the kinds of things that we were able to do, Greta. Even though we may have thought I have to get a college loan. I had loans in law school. But it is a very tough in environment now. We need to be very mindful.

And that's obviously a huge responsibility of the university leaders to get out there and work hard.

VAN SUSTEREN: On the day of this big announcement Baylor University, it's also announcement of "Death of American Virtue," a book that has come out of the investigation of President Clinton.

You have been quoted as saying that if you saw President Clinton that you would say, you were sorry. Explain what you meant by that.

STARR: Oh, well, I mean that in the sense that I very much regret that the entire episode happened. And what American of goodwill wanted this episode to happen? No one did. So obviously I regret that as a citizen who loves his country. Obviously it brought great pain to a lot of people. It was unpleasant for everyone involved in the investigation.

But Janet Reno, the then attorney general of the United States, made a determination, and I think it was the correct legal determination, that this matter, the Lewinsky phase of the investigation, as unhappy and as unpleasant as it was, had to be investigated, and that's what we did. But of course, who wanted this to happen to our country?

VAN SUSTEREN: In looking back as lawyers often look back, what are your regrets from it and what are you proud about it?

STARR: I'm very proud that the investigation was conducted with honor and integrity. Obviously it has detractors and Ken Gormley, the author of this book, is a very thoughtful man, the interim dean of Duquesne law school in Pittsburgh. I hold Ken in the highest regard, and he has some pretty tough criticisms.

And I think everyone should accept criticisms of their service, especially as a prosecutor, because, as you well know, Greta, prosecutors have power and they should be called to account for that power. But that having been said and mindful of criticisms, I think the investigation was conned with honor and integrity.

I wish it hadn't taken so long, and that's one of the criticisms that Ken Gormley lays at my feet, that the investigation took too long. But we weren't dragging our feet, but it did take longer than I would have wanted and certainly than the country deserved.

VAN SUSTEREN: It was so chaotic how all consumed we all were. It was enormously chaotic, wasn't it?

STARR: It was horribly chaotic, you are so right. And the entire process of the grand jury process with -- as you will recall Greta, because you covered it, day in and day out, and witnesses would come out of the third floor of the grand jury room and there they would meet the press. Yet the grand jury process is supposed to be confidential.

Prosecutors, as you well know, are duty bound to maintain confidentiality. In fact, it's a crime to breach that confidentiality. But then, of course, because of concerns of confidentiality, the court said to the press, no offense, but you need to get out of the third floor.

And so famously or infamously, Monica beach was established outside the court house. And this went on day after day. And that is one of the great sorrow for the entire matter that again, Ken Gormley is a very fine person and a great historian as well as a great lawyer and wonderful dean of a very fine law school, criticizes.

And I said yes, I wish it hadn't taken so long. And I have thoughts about how it could have been completed a bit more rapidly. But that's a closed chapter in our history. But I think Ken Gormley has added a valuable set of insights into the history, as unpleasant as it was.

VAN SUSTEREN: What is interesting is that in spite of all of it, everyone has emerged from it. We've put it behind us. People have succeeded on so many fronts. You've had enormous success. President Clinton has had enormous success. Everyone has come through it. It was ugly, but we came through it.

STARR: Exactly right. It's part of the greatness of the country. You are not sent out into exile or what have you. And President Clinton of course is serving the country magnificently, the work of the Clinton Foundation, his leadership in Haiti obviously. The then first lady is an extremely and able energetic secretary of state.

And I'm looking forward to being the next president of Baylor University and honored to serve at Pepperdine University for these few years.

VAN SUSTEREN: Let me remind those Baylor alumni -- send your checks now. Help Ken get that first year really going. Help those students help that university. Ken, thank you, and good luck in your new job.

STARR: Thank you. Come see us in central Texas in Waco.

VAN SUSTEREN: Invite me and I will. I'll come down there.

STARR: You got a deal. You are warmly welcome. Thanks. Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you, Ken.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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