Ken Starr, the former independent council whose investigations into Bill Clinton’s love affairs led to the former president’s impeachment, told CNN on Sunday, if he had been a sitting member of the Senate at the time, he would have cast a vote to remove Clinton from office.
In the same breath, he told CNN’s Jake Tapper that he hopes president Trump is not impeached because it would be “hell” for the American people.
Trump has said he is thinking about pardoning his former campaign adviser Paul Manafort, who was convicted on eight criminal counts of bank and tax fraud, prompting a number of prominent Republicans to warn the president not to do so. (According to Politico’s Josh Gerstein, the “plea deal special counsel Robert Mueller granted to Paul Manafort on Friday appears built to be pardon-proof,” which would make it a moot point.)
When asked by Tapper if he thinks Trump should be impeached like Clinton, Starr responded: “I hope not… impeachment is hell. The country should not be taken through that,” Starr explained. “The founding generation wisely knew that it is such a serious act that should require a two-thirds majority in the Senate. Unless there is a growing national consensus that impeachment is proper, it is doomed to fail and its just the wrong way to go.”
But when asked if he was happy that president Clinton was not removed from office he said: “I think the system worked. How would I have voted as a Senator? I think I would have voted to remove him. But I can understand full well the interests of the American people.” He added that while he thinks Clinton committed crimes, he understands the argument that they were not directly related to his conduct in the presidency.
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) September 16, 2018
Special Council Robert Mueller, who has been investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, has been probing possible collusion between the Kremlin and members of the Trump administration. So far, five people linked to Trump’s campaign have admitted guilt to criminal activity as a result of Mueller’s investigation. Trump has allegedly turned down requests to be interviewed by Mueller’s team. Bob Woodward, in his newly-released book Fear, reported that Trump’s former attorney John Dowd allegedly said that Trump is a “fucking liar,” likely to commit perjury, which are perhaps qualities that make not submitting to such an interview to be a sensible idea.
Last week, a anonymous senior official in the Trump administration wrote in a New York Times op-ed that there were “whispers” within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment — thus activating the Constitutional process of removing the president — due to Trump’s erratic behavior and habit of acting on his “generally anti-trade and anti-democratic” impulses.
Clinton, meanwhile, was impeached by the House of Representatives in December 1998 on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, related to his extramarital affair with Monica Lewinsky. The charges were the result of Starr’s so-called “Whitewater Investigation” which looked into financial irregularities involving the Whitewater Development Corporation, in which the Clintons and their business partners were implicated.