Don't Believe the 'Insulting' Book Tour Hype: Ken Starr Is No Robert Mueller
In hawking his new memoir, Kenneth Starr displays all the dignity, fairness and proportion that characterized his pursuit of Bill Clinton's impeachment two decades ago.
Which is to say not much.
Still, after being unceremoniously dumped from his jobs at Baylor University for covering up a sexual assault scandal, and with no prospect of a future federal appointment in sight, Starr suddenly had time to write the account of his misadventures that has been festering within for all these years. And his book, titled "Contempt," inarguably arrives at an opportune moment, as another president faces criminal investigation and possible impeachment.
On his publicity tour last week, the former independent counsel claimed to find "intriguing" comparisons and even "eerie echoes" of the Clinton chase in the current president's legal woes. Echoes there are, but in his zeal to defend his fellow Republican, Starr omits or elides most of what really matters in both cases.
"(At) least as far as we know Donald Trump has not lied under oath, as far as we know, he's not intimidated witnesses, (and) as far as we know -- in my view -- he has not obstructed justice," he told National Public Radio, seeking to draw a contrast with Clinton, whose guilt he still aims to establish on all counts.
Starr forgets that among the 12 counts in the Office of Special Counsel's indictment of Clinton -- co-authored by Judge Brett Kavanaugh and sent to Congress as an impeachment recommendation -- were his lies to the public, not under oath, and his concomitant "abuse of power."
If that is the standard, then Trump has fulfilled it over and over again.
As Starr knows perfectly well, this president has lied effusively and obsessively about everything to do with the Russia investigation, his payoff of Stormy Daniels and a hundred other salient matters. He lied about the Trump Tower meeting and sought to mislead the public. He has not only tried to sway witnesses but also interfered brazenly with law enforcement at the highest levels, by intimidating the FBI director and the attorney general.
So whether he has obstructed justice or not is a question that won't depend much on Starr's "view."
It is true, as Starr reminds us at length, that Clinton lied under oath in a deposition about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. According to Starr, Clinton also lied during his grand jury appearance, although that is a highly arguable charge.