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Kenneth Starr, the former independent counsel who led a highly publicized investigation of then-US President Bill Clinton, died on Tuesday at the age of 76, his family said, according to a report in ABC New York.

The family said that Starr died in Houston of complications from surgery.

The high-powered Washington lawyer, who also served as US solicitor general and a federal judge, played a pivotal role in the investigation of the so-called Whitewater scandal that engulfed the Clinton administration in the mid-1990s.

Starr's self-titled report on the probe included salacious details about Clinton's relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, and accused the then-President of lying about his affair during a deposition.

Raised in small-town East Texas, Starr earned a law degree from Duke University before clerking for US Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger in the mid-1970s. After a stint in private practice, Starr joined the Justice Department at the beginning of the Reagan administration.

President Ronald Reagan appointed Starr to the US Circuit Court of Appeals in 1983 and he remained on the bench until 1989, when President George H.W. Bush appointed him US solicitor general.

In 1994, he inherited a fledgling investigation into real estate investments made by President Clinton and his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, in Arkansas, where President Clinton had previously been governor.

Under the existing independent counsel statute, Starr was granted sweeping powers to investigate the Clintons and their associates, both in and out of government. The investigation eventually uncovered details of a White House affair Clinton had with Lewinsky.

Starr's findings ultimately led to the impeachment of Clinton in the House of Representatives, though he was later acquitted in the Senate.

In 2020, Starr reentered the political fray when he agreed to join then-President Donald Trump's legal defense team for his second impeachment trial in Congress. At the Senate trial, Starr spoke on Trump's behalf. Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives but ultimately acquitted by the Senate.