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Trump’s defense will be led by a ‘lunatic,’ ‘wacko’ and ‘off his rocker’ Ken Starr, according to Trump himself

Ken Starr, then president of Baylor University, testifies in 2014 at the House Committee on Education and Workforce about college athletes forming unions. (Lauren Victoria Burke/AP)

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.

Trump has apparently pulled a 180 on Kenneth Starr since the late 1990s. Back then Starr was investigating Bill Clinton and writing the “Starr Report,” which was used as the basis for impeachment. Trump at the time derided the impeachment — and Starr right along with it.

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.

It continued with the Ukraine scandal and the ensuing impeachment.

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.”

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.