Starr makes Trump team debut: We are living in an ‘age of impeachment’
Kenneth Starr made his debut on Monday as part of President Trump’s impeachment defense team, where he warned against the repercussions of the growing use of impeachment in American government.
“The Senate is being called to sit as the high court of impeachment all too frequently. Indeed, we are living in what I think can aptly be described as the age of impeachment,” Starr told senators.
Starr played a central role in the country’s last impeachment trial. He investigated then-President Clinton as independent counsel, with the probes culminating in Clinton’s impeachment and acquittal.
Starr returned to the Senate floor, this time in opposition to Trump’s impeachment. He was the second lawyer to speak on Tuesday, stepping to the microphone shorty after the Senate convened and speaking for nearly an hour.
Prior to joining Trump’s defense, Starr was a Fox News contributor who frequently defended the president on air.
Starr largely focused his remarks on Monday on the historical context of impeachment. He opened by describing the gravity of the Senate’s role in the proceedings before delving into the increasing use of impeachment as a tool against American presidents over the last few decades.
“Instead of a once-in-a-century phenomenon, which it had been, presidential impeachment has become a weapon to be wielded against one’s political opponent,” Starr said.
He hammered the assertion that impeachment should only be used in extremely rare cases and as a last resort. He noted no Republicans voted to impeach Trump in the House, suggesting that meant there wasn’t “consensus” this president should be removed from office.
Starr, who pursued Clinton’s impeachment on the charge that he lied to investigators about sexual activity, told senators that impeachment was so grave that not even a criminal act was enough to warrant removal from office.
The Clinton impeachment, he said, “demonstrates that, while highly relevant, the commission of a crime is by no means sufficient to warrant the removal of our duly-elected president.
“Why? This body knows,” he continued. “We appoint judges and you confirm them and they’re there for life. Not presidents. And the presidency is unique. The presidency stands alone in our constitutional framework.”
His argument tracked with the broader case the president’s defenders have made in describing the ongoing impeachment trial as a politically motivated effort sparked by dislike of Trump, and that the allegations against Trump do not meet the threshold for impeachable conduct.
The House impeached Trump last month for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, alleging he withheld security aid and a White House meeting for Ukraine while he sought the country’s help with investigations into his political rivals.
—Updated at 2:14 p.m.