News and Commentary

Impeachment Expert Slams Pelosi: It’s A ‘Phony Impeachment,’ Will Have ‘Asterisk’ In History Books
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, pauses while speaking during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019. Pelosi's carefully scripted impeachment of Donald Trump took an unexpected turn an hour after she banged the gavel Wednesday night, as she opened the door to stalling a Senate trial on whether the president should be removed from office.
Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Judge Ken Starr, whose investigation into former President Bill Clinton ultimately led to Clinton’s impeachment, slammed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the weekend for how the Democrats conducted their impeachment investigation into President Donald Trump, saying that it was a “phony impeachment” and will be remembered in the history books with a “footnote” or an “asterisk.”

Starr made the remarks during a Fox News segment on Saturday in response to Democrat impeachment witness Noah Feldman, a Harvard legal scholar who said, in a recent op-ed, that Trump has not been impeached and, if Pelosi does not send the articles of impeachment to the Senate, “Trump could legitimately say that he wasn’t truly impeached at all.”

“What is your verdict?” Fox News host Ed Henry asked Starr.

“Well, unfortunately, Noah Feldman is a very creative guy as we saw in his testimony,” Starr responded. “But an impeachment is an impeachment by any other name. And so there was a debate and there was a recorded vote. And that goes down in history. However, he’s making a really good point. It’s an impeachment with a footnote or with an asterisk. By the way it never went over to the Senate, which I think means it’s a bit of a phony impeachment.”

“Right, so is it Nancy Pelosi having some buyer’s remorse?” Henry asked. “I know you can’t get inside her head. But why in the world after going out here and actually voting on these articles and passing two of them, why not send it over to the Senate?”

“She appears to be intruding into the powers of the Senate which is ironic and extreme,” Starr responded. “So, I think there is an abuse of House power in the way that this process unfolded in the House and riding roughshod over minority rights and ultimately the rights over the president. And now she is trying to essentially tell the Senate how to do its business: here’s the deal, Senator McConnell, leader McConnell — and it’s just wrong constitutionally. It’s not going to work. But it is wrong constitutionally.”

“What do you think would be a smart way forward for Senator Mitch McConnell in the Senate?” Henry later asked. “Does he just say, ‘Look, there may be precedent. We have to wait.’ But nowhere in the Constitution we’re told does it say that the Senate has to wait for impeachment managers to be named? Should Mitch McConnell just have the trial and get the president acquitted?”

“I don’t think so. Because he’s going to have to appoint managers, he’s going to have to appoint prosecutors,” Starr answered. “So he is doing it exactly the right way. I gather he’s going to say we are going to go forward with the business of the Senate and not play games.”

Democrats’ impeachment vote against the president marked the first time in U.S. history that impeachment was a strictly partisan event as no Republicans joined the Democrats’ efforts. Multiple Democrats broke ranks with their own party and voted against it.

The recent vote also marks the first time that impeachment has been used as a political weapon as Democrats did not allege that Trump actually committed any crimes, which Attorney General William Barr noted in a recent interview.

“I think we have to be careful about trivializing the process and they put in a hurdle of high crimes – of treason, bribery, and other high crimes,” Barr said on the issue of impeachment in a Fox News interview. “The articles of impeachment here do not allege a violation of law and it looks as if it’s going to be along partisan lines – I think – I’m concerned about it being trivialized and used as a political tool.”