Ken Starr made his impeachment debut on Monday as a member of President Donald Trump’s legal defense team, warning about the growing use of impeachment.
“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, who prosecuted former President Bill Clinton during his impeachment trial in the late 1990s, argued that no crimes were committed in Trump’s case and sought to undermine House Democrats’ impeachment case.
“Were crimes alleged in the articles in the common law of presidential impeachment? In Nixon, yes. In Clinton, yes. Here, no,” he said.
Impeachment, he argued, should be a last resort to remove a president from official, urging senators to look into the text of the Constitution to restore the United States’ history and tradition.
Over the past five decades or so—with the investigations into former President Richard Nixon and former President Jimmy Carter’s and Congress’ Independent Counsels Provisions of The Ethics and Government Act of 1978—impeachment has become increasingly used by the House, which is unprecedented in the history of the United States, Starr said.
“But the new chapter was not simply the age of independent counsels. It became, unbeknownst to the American people, the age of impeachment,” Starr said.
Starr, who had worked as a Fox News contributor, played a significant in the last impeachment trial against former President Clinton in 1999. He investigated the former as independent counsel, resulting in Clinton’s impeachment in the House and acquittal in the Senate.
“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.
Starr claimed Trump didn’t obstruct Congress by not allowing any White House witnesses or documents. The House inquiry process that produced the two articles of impeachment was suspect, he said.
“It is not an impeachable offense for the president of the United States to defend the asserted legal and constitutional prerogatives of the presidency,” Starr said. “Due process could have been honored. Basic rights could have been honored … but what’s done is done. These two articles come before this court, this high court of impeachment, dripping with fundamental process violations,” Starr added.
Democrats have alleged Trump withheld millions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine while demanding investigations into former President Vice President, which Trump has denied. The House voted to impeach President Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress last month.