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Ken Starr: Trump Impeachment Frenzy ‘Wildly Over-Criminalizing the Conduct of the Business of Government’

(Jim Young/Reuters)

Former U.S. Solicitor General Ken Starr, who headed the impeachment efforts against President Clinton, said on a podcast Monday that the impeachment frenzy surrounding President Trump stems from “creative” efforts and holds Trump “to a remarkable standard.”

“He did nothing that sounds in the nature of a corrupt bargain,” Starr said. “. . . There were 17 people on the phone, including the Secretary of State, so the president was so open, and shall I say transparent, about it that that goes to his intent. There was no corrupt bargain, or attempt to achieve a corrupt bargain.”

Discussing the situation with Byron York, chief political correspondent for the Washington Examiner, Starr said that while the president may have been imprudent in bringing up Joe Biden, “a potential opponent,” Trump’s concern was “information about election past, not election future.”

Starr said that the much-discussed Ukrainian military aid, which was part of a “quid-pro-quo” with the Ukrainians for investigating Hunter Biden, was delivered by its legally-required end of the fiscal year, making the case even more speculative.

“Even assuming that is was ‘being withheld in this kind of corrupt arraignment,’ it was issued in good order, it was not, in fact, held up, and then you move to, I think, a genuine squabble over the timeline, interpretations over the timeline — this is so far from a cold, on the docks, Richard Nixon-engaged-in [case], and everyone accepted it, in a conspiracy to obstruct justice,” he said.”

Starr pushed back on the use of impeachment as a political weapon, and instead argued that it would be “within the bounds of reason” for Democrats to attempt to censure Trump for mentioning Biden on the call, in the same way the House Republicans recently attempted to censure House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D., Calif.)

“We need to ratchet down the conversation because of the evils of impeachment,” Starr stated. “Impeachment has become a terrible, terrible thorn in the side of the American democracy and the conduct of American government since Watergate. We need to get rid of this ‘let’s go to impeachment immediately,’ let’s at least have a reasoned and deliberate conversation about some lesser kind of response.”

Starr closed by suggesting the current impeachment tactics by House Democrats have not been pursued in good faith.

“Right now, the Democrats have embarked on quite an unusual and unorthodox process. Time will tell, but fundamental norms of fairness are not being observed at this stage,” he said. “Once this sinks in to the public conscience, as it’s bound to do, because the procedures are so unorthodox, so unusual, such a substantial departure from history that the American people will eventually understand that, and that they will either care about it, as I think they will, or they will brush it off and say ‘well, they should not have done this, but they did.’”

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