Ken Starr, the special prosecutor hired to investigate the Clintons for their involvement in the Whitewater real estate scandal back in the 1990s, told a New York radio station this weekend that Democrats had no reasonable case of impeachment against President Donald Trump. Starr, whose finding of perjury against President Bill Clinton eventually led to his impeachment in the House of Representatives, said that it took more than innuendo and unpopularity to justify impeachment proceedings.
“Not even close,” Starr said on 970 AM. “I know of no evidence that would suggest that he has committed high crimes and misdemeanors. You can hate the way he tweets, you can disagree with his politics, but be very careful before you move the country toward impeachment. It’s inherently divisive.”
Even with the high standard of evidence against Clinton, Republicans were largely thought to have exceeded the limits of partisan rancor by bringing impeachment proceedings against him. With the country divided on whether or not what Clinton did – lying about his affair with Monica Lewinsky – was even such a big deal, the GOP ultimately regretted taking things as far as they did.
With Trump not even accused of a single crime – not even, so far as has been publicly announced, being investigated for any crime – the peril for Democrats is that much greater. Perhaps that will change when Robert Mueller files his final report, but we have to doubt it. The only thing Mueller is within shouting distance of is a charge of obstruction, and we’d like to see the Justice Department justify stripping the sitting president of his Article II powers just for the sake of bringing an indictment against Donald Trump. It ain’t gonna happen.
Starr said that there should be a widespread, national call for impeachment before any proceedings were to begin, even if there were sufficient cause.
“Essentially,” he said, “you need a consensus among ‘we the people.’ We the American people need to agree this president should go. We had that with Richard Nixon. We did not have it with Bill Clinton. We certainly don’t have it with Donald Trump. We have a nation divided, but a nation divided does not mean let’s get rid of the president.”
At this point, every indication says that Nancy Pelosi is not going to go that route. She knows that if impeachment proceedings backfire – which they inevitably will, given who controls the Senate – it will spell political disaster for Democrats heading into 2020. Still, Pelosi’s hold on the Speakership is far from secure given the fractures within the party, and there is a certainly a rabid strain of Trump Derangement Syndrome running up and down the ranks. So it could very well happen.
If it does, Trump’s re-election is all but guaranteed.