Ken Starr, whose investigation of former President Bill Clinton led to his impeachment, has a message for Special Counsel Robert Mueller: “impeachment is hell.” According to USA Today, the former United States circuit judge is promoting his new book, Contempt: A Memoir of the Clinton Investigation. While making his rounds on the news circuit, Starr spoke with Jake Tapper on the popular CNN show, State of the Union, about the Russian probe and Paul Manafort’s role.
“It is very likely that Paul Manafort has indicated through his counsel and directly [sic] that he can provide very helpful information, useful information to get to the bottom of what Bob Mueller and his team have been charged to do. So it is a very significant breakthrough,” Starr said, referring to the latest development in the investigation.
This week, it was announced that Manafort, who had been Trump’s campaign manager, has chosen to cooperate with Mueller in his investigation. According to Newsweek, Manafort was found guilty on eight charges of bank and tax fraud. Though the charges carry a sentence of 20 years to life, Manafort’s sentencing has been put on hold, likely due to his choice to cooperate with Mueller.
As U.S. attorney Preet Bharara, who worked at the White House from 2009 to 2017, said, “Given how late in the game Mueller was prepared to bargain, more people will almost certainly be charged based on Manafort info.” But, Bharara added, it is likely that Mueller already knows what information Manafort plans to offer because prosecutors ” get the information before [they] offer the agreement.”
Though Manafort’s cooperation is certainly a breakthrough, Starr warns that it might not be the smoking gun people are hoping for. He says that witnesses often disappoint you with the amount of information they actually provide. He cited Webb Hubbell, who Starr made a deal with while investigating the Whitewater investigation, which was to review claims that there had been malfeasance on the part of Bill and Hillary Clinton during a 1978 real estate deal. Though Starr gave Hubbell a deal, “it turned out he really didn’t have as much information as we thought he would.”
In his conversation with Tapper, Starr said that he felt it would not be a good idea on Trump’s part to pardon Manafort. He added that it would be “imprudent,” and would look a lot like an “abuse of power.” However, he added that he hoped Mueller did not take action to impeach Trump.
“Impeachment is hell. The country should not be taken through that. Unless there is a growing national consensus that impeachment is proper it’s doomed to fail and it’s just the wrong way to go.”