Former Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr told the Senate on Monday afternoon that the impeachment of a president had always involved crimes — and that none had been alleged in the impeachment of President Donald Trump.
Starr made the argument that former Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz had been expected to make.
He implored the Senate to restore the nation’s constitutional traditions by considering the “common law” of precedent, and the constitutional text itself, which “always” spoke in terms of actual “crimes.”
“Impeachments should be evaluated in terms of offenses against established law — especially with respect to the presidency.”
He said he was not stating that categorically, but noted — citing a similar argument on the eve of the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson in 1868 — the “weight of authority” supported his view.
Starr, speaking with perhaps unique authority as the an who investigated allegations that led to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, said that precedent suggested criminal conduct had to be alleged.
The Clinton impeachment, he said, while controversial, charged actual crimes, as did the impeachment investigation of Richard Nixon.
The “common law” of impeachment therefore required crimes, he argued — and here, there were none alleged against Trump.
Starr had earlier warned the Senate that an “Age of Impeachment” was upon the country, in which the House would pursue partisan impeachments of presidents from the opposing party.
It was incumbent upon the Senate to preserve the country, and the Constitution, by ruling according to the law, and impartial justice.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.