The impeached President of the United States Donald J. Trump just made an extremely unexpected new choice of legal counsel for his impeachment trial, which kicks into high gear next Tuesday. Based on past comments, the president has an especially low opinion of one of his new, key defenders.
Today, Trump introduced two new counsels, first the embattled Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz whose association with Jeffrey Epstein and allegations of sexual misconduct have tarnished the sunset of a lengthy career.
Secondly, and even more bizarrely, the president selected former Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, who is currently a Fox News contributor and sometimes a harsh public critic of Trump’s conduct.
In the manner of “how is there always a tweet,” the phenomenon in which Trump does or says something that is invariably the opposite of some pop culture and political take he gave in the past, footage has emerged from a 1999 interview on CNBC in which the brash New York real estate developer called Ken Starr “a total wacko.”
In another interview aired on MSNBC today, Donald Trump was even more critical of his new lawyer. “I think Ken Starr is a lunatic,” he said on NBC‘s widely watched, flagship morning program The Today Show. “I think Ken Starr is a disaster.”
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— Grant Stern (@grantstern) January 17, 2020
The public hate between Trump and Starr isn’t a one-way street. Just two months ago on Fox, Starr directed a pair of utterly devastating commentaries at Donald Trump during his live opinion narration of the House’s impeachment hearings.
On November 15th, the former Independent Counsel opined about Donald Trump’s menacing tweet directed at Ambassador Marie Yovanovich during her testimony. “Obviously, this is quite injurious,” said Starr. It was perhaps the first time any Republican gave a measured and cogent take on the impact of Trump’s tweets in his realtime attempt to influence the impeachment proceedings against him in the House Intelligence Committee.
Five days after that, Kenneth Starr—who recently got forced out of a cushy job as the President of Baylor University in a massive sexual assault cover-up scandal at the Texas private school—took an even bolder step. He told Fox News viewers that Senate Republicans should ask for Trump’s resignation a-la-Richard Nixon’s departure, which he said immediately after EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland admitted under oath to participating in the president’s quid pro quo scheme to pressure Ukraine’s highest leaders into falsely tarnishing Vice President Joe Biden.
It’s entirely possible that the surprise appointment of Kenneth Starr and Alan Dershowitz, who has spent years publicly claiming that he was only a political advisor to Trump and not his attorney, is due to the strong likelihood that most members of his standing legal team are fact-witnesses to the House’s case for impeachment.
A week ago, Occupy Democrats reported that President Trump’s lawyers were nearly all fact-witnesses in the scheme he allegedly perpetrated to illegally withhold Congressionally appropriated funds from Ukraine, and it that could conflict with their ability to represent the accused at his Senate trial. Two days ago, the House Intelligence Committee released a significant archive of documents from Trump’s messenger Lev Parnas as his two-hour interview with Rachel Maddow aired, and that confirmed our reporting that both Jay Sekulow and John Dowd are both fact witnesses.
In particular, Sekulow’s loss on Trump’s defense team could be a crushing blow, because unlike many of his other private lawyers, he’s actually a really good lawyer who has made twelve Supreme Court appearances and walked away with eight wins, mostly in First Amendment cases.
Hiring both Starr and Dershowitz could also be viewed at as a Hail Mary attempt by Trump to present a reasonable defense of any sort as he heads into a trial which conventional wisdom believes will be decided in his favor on partisan lines, but is taking place as he has split his caucus over starting a war. Even the conservative Wall Street Journal is running op-editorials saying that the Senate has enough info to remove him from office.
Either way, today’s announcement gives President Trump a pair of television lawyers that in some ways strangely meets expectations even more than his prior choices of counsel, while simultaneously being shocking in that the two men are longtime critics with truly negative public sex scandal issues who have suddenly joined hands to defend the indefensible in front of the Senate and the nation.
Grant Stern is the Executive Editor of Occupy Democrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report, and a senior advisor to the Democratic Coalition