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Suddenly Ken Starr doesn't like impeachment so much

Dana Milbank on

WASHINGTON -- Is there anything Republicans won't say to make impeachment go away?

They attack the patriotism of decorated veterans. They decry rules that they devised. And they discard long-held principles as though the past never happened.

Comes now Ken Starr, responsible more than any other person on Earth for the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, to tell us what a dreadful thing impeachment is.

"It just seems we need to ratchet the conversation down because of the evils of impeachment," the former independent counsel said during an interview with conservative writer Byron York released on Monday. "Impeachment has become a terrible, terrible thorn in the side of the American democracy and the conduct of American government since Watergate. … Let's at least have a reasoned and deliberate conversation about some lesser kind of response."

Starr thinks Congress should consider censuring President Trump, and he says Republicans in 1998 should have considered "whether something short of impeachment would be appropriate."

Now he tells us? He didn't mention "censure" once in his referral to Congress in 1998 laying out "substantial and credible information that President Clinton committed acts that may constitute grounds for an impeachment," nor in his November 1998 testimony. Then, Starr argued passionately that Clinton's actions fit the "high-crime-and-misdemeanor" standard.

 

Starr wasn't finished. During this week's interview, he also absolved Trump of guilt, both for obstruction of justice in the Mueller inquiry and for wrongdoing in the Ukraine quid pro quo, saying Trump's "intent" was pure. Starr protested that Trump "is being held to a remarkable standard" in which we are "over-criminalizing the conduct of the business of government."

Seriously? From the man who pushed to impeach a president for lying about oral sex in a civil deposition? Back then, Starr rejected the argument that Clinton's "intent" in lying was to avoid embarrassment, not to perjure himself.

Starr, still going, suggested this week that impeachment is a plot by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to seize the presidency. A "conflict of interest is that the speaker of the House is guiding this process when she is third in succession," he argued. "She will do well if she can have the elimination of Donald Trump from office and then Vice President Pence somehow."

Somehow?

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