President Trump on Friday chose the people who will be defending him at his impeachment trial. And one of them is “a lunatic” who was “a disaster” during the last impeachment of a president, according to Trump himself.
Asked by Matt Lauer, “Do you think the president should be impeached?” Trump responded with harsh words not for the impeachment process but for Starr personally.
“I think Ken Starr’s a lunatic,” Trump said. “I really think that Ken Starr is a disaster.”
Trump added in the same interview: ”I really think that Ken Starr was terrible.”
Trump offered similar comments when Geraldo Rivera asked him about Hillary Clinton running for Senate from New York. Trump again brought up Starr on his own, suggesting that he made her life a living hell.
“She’s had a very tough life the last few years,” Trump said. “I mean, what could be tougher than that? I mean, can you imagine those evenings when he’s just being lambasted by this crazy Ken Starr, who is a total wacko? There’s the guy. I mean, he is totally off his rocker.”
As the Clinton impeachment was getting off the ground, Trump also appeared on Chris Matthews’s show and appeared to suggest that Starr had manufactured the case against the president.
“Starr has taken something from nothing and brought it into this big crescendo,” Trump said. “But you know what? It’s got to stop. It’s enough.”
Trump is the first to admit that he is willing to change his opinion of people on a dime, though. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal in 2018, he said he attacks people viciously and then often comes around to them. “You see that a lot with me, and then all of a sudden somebody’s my best friend,” he said. “I could give you 20 examples. You give me 30. I’m a very flexible person.”
Saying things Trump likes on cable TV is a surefire way to gain his good graces, and Starr has certainly done that. Starr began appearing on Fox News during the early days of the Russia investigation to cast doubt on the evidence. And Trump noticed and quickly began hailing the legal analysis of the man he once repeatedly labeled a crazy person.
“We’ve seen NO EVIDENCE OF COLLUSION....I have seen nothing, the firing of James Comey and all of the aftermath, that suggests that the President has obstructed justice because he’s exercising his power as the President of the U.S. I just don’t see it.” Judge Ken Starr— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 27, 2018
Judge Ken Starr, former Solicitor Generel & Independent Counsel, just stated that, after two years, “there is no evidence or proof of collusion” & further that “there is no evidence that there was a campaign financing violation involving the President.” Thank you Judge. @FoxNews— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 16, 2018
It continued with the Ukraine scandal and the ensuing impeachment.
“I don’t see anything that constitutes an Impeachable offense - Nothing here rises to the level of Impeachment. The Democrats are making a mistake with this secrecy.” Kenn Starr, former Special Prosecutor— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 19, 2019
Ken Starr, Former Independent Counsel: “Does this reach the level of treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors? My assessment of the evidence so far, NO WHERE CLOSE. The evidence is conflicting & ambiguous. Ambassador Sondland’s testimony stated that....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 21, 2019
Those appearances, as has been the case with so many others around Trump, now appear to have helped land Starr a high-profile gig.
But even as he has often defended Trump on Fox, there have been times when Starr suggested that the evidence against Trump was compelling.
After U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland’s testimony about quid pro quos, for instance, Starr indicated it was a big deal. Some took his quotes out of context — including by taking things Starr attributed to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) and suggesting they were his own opinions. But Starr did suggest that the evidence was troubling and substantial.
“So, this obviously has been one of those bombshell days,” Starr said on Fox.
He added at another point, while emphasizing that Trump may have covered himself by denying personal involvement in quid pro quos: “It doesn’t look good for the president, substantively.”
Starr also criticized Trump’s tweet attacking his former ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, while she was testifying to Congress, calling it “extraordinarily poor judgment.”
Former independent counsel Ken Starr criticizes Trump's tweets attacking Yovanovitch: "I must say that the president was not advised by counsel in deciding to do this tweet. Extraordinarily poor judgment ... obviously I think this was quite injurious." pic.twitter.com/BFTwqX12AD— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 15, 2019
None of that, of course, is Starr saying Trump deserved impeachment or removal by Congress. But the downside of picking TV pundits is that they may have said things that were unhelpful to you. And this is someone whose judgment surrounding an impeachment Trump once sharply derided.
Now he’ll be leading Trump’s own impeachment defense.