Reprinted with permission from Alternet
Bringing Ken Starr on to President Donald Trump’s impeachment defense team seemed like a terrible idea from the start, and on Monday afternoon, the former independent counsel showed why.
As the former independent counsel who pushed for a slew of impeachment charges against former President Bill Clinton, Starr is in the odd position of having vigorously and publicly advocated for removing a chief executive under much less serious accusations that Trump now faces. So inevitably, his defense was going to draw accusations of hypocrisy.
Yet somehow, he didn’t seem to foresee this and try to mitigate the damage.
“The Senate is being called to sit as the high court of impeachment all too frequently,” he said. “Indeed, we are living in what can aptly be described as the Age of Impeachment.”
If it’s true that we live in the “Age of Impeachment,” then it’s clear that Starr is a big part of the reason why. As independent counsel, he lobbied ferociously for Clinton’s impeachment. And though there’s plenty of reason to believe that Clinton acted wrongly — he lied under oath and he had an affair with a young White House intern — his actions were far less relevant to his performance as president. The articles of impeachment Trump is faced with on abusing his power and obstructing Congress, on the other hand, go to the heart of presidential authority and the balance of constitutional powers.
And in fact, the Democratic Party was reluctant to impeach Trump and appeared prepared to let his conduct as described by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller report go unaddressed. Its reluctance was probably due, in part, to the fact that Starr’s own overly aggressive push for impeachment was seen as a political failure for Republicans.
But Starr didn’t stop there with his hypocrisy.
“A presidential impeachment is tantamount to domestic war,” he said. “It’s filled with acrimony and it divides the country like nothing else.”
He said he understood that by living through the Clinton impeachment “in a deep and personal way,” but he didn’t acknowledge his own central role in stoking that acrimony.
“I’m sorry, this is just too much to be smacked in the face with such chutzpah,” said Fordham Law Professor Jef Shugerman of Starr’s comments. “He’s 3 minutes into it with zero self-awareness. He is blaming the Independent Counsel Statute for it. What a pathetic man.”
“Straight faced #KenStarr requests Congress to practice ‘oversight’ of the president by a president who’s declared himself above the law and thumbed his nose at checks & balances is rich,” tweeted MSNBC contributor Maria Teresa Kumar.
Some even decided to add a laugh track to Starr’s speech:
“First of all, impeachment has not even remotely been normalized,” said former federal prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega. “Second, could the Republicans not find ANYONE ELSE to give this ridiculous history lecture?”