The man whose investigation led to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton for lying under oath about his sexual relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky has now written a memoir about his days as independent counsel where he claims that Clinton and his wife, Hillary, are ‘fundamentally dishonest.”
National Public Radio highlighted that description on Tuesday when Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep interviewed Starr about the book, entitled Contempt: A Memoir of the Clinton Investigation.
Inskeep, however, was not interested in finding out why the Clintons are dishonest but wanted Starr to trash the current president, Donald J. Trump.
“You described the Clintons as fundamentally dishonest,” Inskeep said. “Is our current president fundamentally dishonest?”
“Well, I’m not going to opine on the president,” Starr said. “Let’s get all the facts in.”
“I have all the facts in with respect to Bill and Hillary. And that’s what ‘Contempt’ is all about. But I do think that there are echoes. We want our president to be honest. And we especially want the president to be honest under oath.”
Inskeep kept up the anti-Trump theme of the interview.
“What have you thought about, now that Republicans – the same party – have become overwhelmingly supportive of a president who’s been documented making thousands of false statements?” Inskeep asked.
Starr said it’s worth having a “serious conversation” about what is expected of presidents regarding their conduct and whether they are acting as if they above the rule of law.
“But here’s a key distinction,” Starr said. “At least as far as we know, Donald Trump has not lied under oath.’
“As far as we know, he’s not intimidated witnesses,” Starr said. “As far as we know, in my view, he has not obstructed justice. So…”
Inskeep pressed on, saying Trump has criticized Robert Mueller, who is investigating him in the way Starr investigated Clinton.
“Steve, right now in that the president tweets these nasty things and yet, from everything that appears, he’s cooperating fully with the investigation. Bill Clinton said he was ….”
Inskeep interrupted Starr again: “He hasn’t agreed to be interviewed yet, so far as we know.”
“But they produced thousands of documents,” Starr said, adding that the investigation will likely conclude soon.
“And of course, now it appears that Bob Mueller is not even asking for an interview,” Starr said. “He’s simply saying written questions – which, by the way, suggests to me that the entire investigation, at least as it affects this president, is winding down.”
Inskeep pointed out that Starr is critical of Clinton’s Attorney General Janet Reno in the book for not publicly supporting his investigation and turned the topic to Trump once again.
“She didn’t speak up,” Inskeep said. “And you found that to be cowardly, which does make me wonder — what do you think now that President Trump publicly calls the investigation surrounding him a witch hunt, regularly calls it that on a regular basis?”
Starr cited an op-ed he wrote in the Washington Post that said Trump should not criticize anyone in the Department of Justice.
But if Starr failed to completely trash Trump while being interviewed for a book about the Clintons, he did get to point out that the former president actually did act as if he were above the law.
Inskeep asked if his investigation into the Clintons was “worth it.”
“Well, of course, it was worth it because we had to have in our system – and the point I’m making in ‘Contempt’ is that no one is above the law.”
“But I also think, also, that while history may focus on perjury, what we’re really talking about ultimately is obstruction of justice and the abuse of power,” Starr said. “The abuse of power is laid out in the book, and people will come to their own judgments.”
“But in our view – all of us in the investigation involved — believed that the president had abused his power, and that was a view that we uniformly shared,” Starr said.
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