By Zachary Stieber
Ken Starr, the independent counsel who headed the impeachment investigation of President Bill Clinton in the 1990s, said that House Democrats appear to lack a star witness like they had in John Dean when President Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal broke.
Dean, an attorney who was Nixon’s White House counsel from 1970 until 1973, helped in the cover-up during the Watergate scandal before testifying to Congress.
Two witnesses testified against President Donald Trump on Nov. 13, but neither had firsthand knowledge—or, in some cases, even secondhand knowledge—of the events they described.
Ambassador Bill Taylor “has the disadvantage of not having had a communication with the president,” Starr said during an appearance on “America’s Newsroom” on Fox News.
“There is no John Dean,” Fox contributor said. “‘This is what the president told me. This is what the president did.’ We’re far-removed from Nixon and Watergate at this stage,” Starr said before the hearing.
After Taylor and George Kent, a longtime State Department official, testified, Starr went back on Fox to say that there was “no crime proven today” and said hopes for an impeachment and a conviction by the Senate appear dim.
“The members were very strong. I think the members overall acquitted themselves extremely well on both sides of the aisle. The quality of the questioning was extremely high for the most part,” he said. “One key thing, the Republicans not only are rock solid, so that means if this trend continues, there is no hope for impeachment, for the conviction of the House—I mean, in the Senate.”
“And here to me was something that was very telling: No crime was proven today,” Starr added. “There were a lot of terms used, extortion and bribery, but no crime. This is unlike Nixon and unlike Clinton.”
Starr in his early Wednesday appearance also lamented the situation that’s unfolding in the current political climate.
“[W]e are living in this culture of impeachment—that everyone cries impeachment. And we inherited this process from the mother country [United Kingdom]. But the mother country hasn’t employed impeachment for executive branch officers—it’s a parliamentary system, of course—in two centuries. So we need to find a better way to hold the executive accountable,” Starr said.
“If the Democrats believe that the president stepped over the line, discuss a motion of censure, resolution of censure, and say ‘this is really bad.’”
Starr probed Clinton over Whitewater and later investigated the president’s interactions with his aide, Monica Lewinsky, leading to Clinton’s impeachment. Clinton was acquitted by the Senate and remained in office.
No president in United State history has been impeached and removed from office, though some believe Nixon might have been if he hadn’t resigned.
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