‘Here we have a runaway House. It has run away… from the Constitution’s demand of fundamental fairness…’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) In a stirring speech before the U.S. Senate that invoked America’s history past, present and future, Kenneth Starr, the former special counsel and current co-counsel on President Donald Trump’s defense team, warned that we were now in an “Era of Impeachment.”
He advised the senators sitting in judgment of the president to break the past half-century of political decline by rejecting House Democrats’ politically motivated efforts to remove Trump, reverse the 2016 election results and potentially impact the upcoming November election.
“Instead of a once-in-a-century phenomenon, which it had been, presidential impeachment has become a weapon to be wielded against a presidential opponent,” he said in his roughly hour-long presentation to kick off the sixth official day of impeachment proceedings and the second day for the defense team.
Starr invoked an array of historic figures from the country’s bygone eras, including a quote widely attributed to Union Civil War general William T. Sherman that “war is hell.”
“Like war, impeachement is hell—or at least presidential impeachment is hell,” Starr said, adding that it was “tantamount to domestic war—albeit, thankfully, protected by our First Amendment, a war of words and a war of ideas.”
Starr, whose years-long Whitewater probe spun off into a sexual-misconduct investigation that led to the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton, encouraged the Senate to regard it—the way our nation’s founders intended—as “a measure of last resort.”
Acknowledging his own role in the Clinton impeachment and other historic examples, he noted several mitigating factors in the current effort—notably, the absence of criminal charges, the lack of bipartisanship and the unconventional process with which House Democrats embarked upon the effort.
“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.
He condemned the partisan House majority, which, unlike the Senate, was “oathless” when they filed the articles against Trump and functioning more as a political institution than a deliberative body.
“Here we have a runaway House,” he said. “It has run away… from the Constitution’s demand of fundamental fairness.”
Notwithstanding, he acknowledged that even the justifiable charges of obstruction and perjury that he oversaw against Clinton had come at a heavy cost to the country due to their divisiveness.
And even then, with material DNA evidence proving that Clinton had committed the crimes, the Senate determined that it did not meet the high standard needed to remove the president.
In fact, Starr noted, only eight times in U.S. history had the Senate determined to remove an impeached public official from office, and all were federal judges with lifetime appointments.
“The presidency stands alone in our constitutional framework,” he said, because it is an elected office accountable to voters as well as to congressional oversight and checks.
Absent a clearly outlined offense, such as treason or bribery—as well as a “national consensus” on removal—the chief executive should be allowed to serve out the remainder of his term, Starr argued.
However, if there were a silver lining in the House Democrats’ decision to trample on the Constitution and “tear asunder” the “common law” of impeachment, it was that their abuse of power “has inadvertently pointed this court to an exit ramp,” Starr said.
While much has been made of Democrats targeting centrist or politically vulnerable Republicans to break rank, Starr’s eloquence provided a counterbalance to the grandstanding last week of lead House manager Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and signaled the hope of Trump’s defense that they, too may be capable of reaching across the aisle for a bipartisan acquittal.
Starr quoted columnist Peggy Noonan, who warned recently that “Democrats will regret it when Republicans are handing out the pens.”
But far-left Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, was not among those moved by his words, the Associated Press reported.
“I thought it was an absurd argument and quite rich coming from him,” Gillibrand said.