I Ran Into Ken Starr, So I Asked Him About Impeachment

The former prosecutor and Clinton antagonist sounds off on Democrats’ impeachment efforts

Ross Ufberg
Published in
3 min readSep 27, 2019


Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images

LLet’s get one thing clear right off the bat: Ken Starr is not in favor of impeachment. He believes strongly that Donald Trump has “a rule of law obligation to cooperate with the investigation” that got underway Thursday. He just doesn’t want us to clamor for impeachment when a congressional investigation will do.

“I’m all in favor of oversight,” he told me while he was visiting Berkeley Law School in California. “This hearing could have happened without any sort of reference to impeachment.”

Thursday was an auspicious day for a chat with the former independent counsel who investigated the Monica Lewinsky affair, the findings of which led to Bill Clinton’s impeachment. Before the Mueller Report (448 pages!), there was the Starr Report (453 pages!), which investigated, in painstaking detail, Clinton’s sexual indiscretions and the ensuing cover-up.

As Starr and I spoke, in the hallway and out the door of the law school, where he was giving a talk, acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire had just wrapped up testimony before Congress on the Ukraine Affair — the controversy surrounding President Trump’s conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in which he asked the Ukrainian leader to investigate Joe Biden’s son. (“Unwise,” as Starr cautiously characterized it.)

“This hearing could have happened without any sort of reference to impeachment.”

Coincidentally, the thesis of Starr’s talk that day centered around impeachment: that it’s an obsolete and often ineffective measure. (He had written about this a few days ago in the Waco Tribune-Herald.) The former prosecutor made a strong case: No president and few people period have ever been successfully impeached by both houses of Congress. The process has been initiated 62 times; the only convictions (8) to ever result from these proceedings were all of federal judges.

Starr believes a sitting president can be indicted, and presumably favors that route — should it be justified — over the I-word. Impeachment is…