Ken Starr: Sondland’s “Bombshell” Testimony Is Evidence of an Impeachable Offense

The man who spurred Bill Clinton’s impeachment was persuaded by Wednesday’s hearing.

Richard Graulich/Palm Beach Post via ZUMA

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

The impeachment hearings have not gone well for President Donald Trump, but have they actually changed people’s minds? Wednesday morning’s testimony from Gordon Sondland convinced one noteworthy observer that there’s evidence Trump is guilty of contempt of Congress: Ken Starr, whose famous report led to the last impeachment of a president.

Before Sondland’s testimony, Starr called the hearings “extravagant” and “political” and said they “do not reveal a crime.” But after Sondland’s testimony, Starr said that for the first time, proof of contempt came straight from a witness.

“It doesn’t look good for the president, substantively,” said Starr in an interview on Fox News.

The former independent counsel went on to draw parallels between Wednesday’s line of questioning and the articles of impeachment drawn up against Richard Nixon, pointing specifically to the article concerning contempt of Congress.

“The third article of impeachment, in the Richard Nixon situation, is very clear, it’s very succinct, it’s very well done,” he said. “That just got drawn up today, thanks to Ambassador Sondland…It’s not a complaint now by the House chairman or anyone else on this committee. It is from the witness himself.”

According to Starr, Sondland’s testimony is firsthand proof that Trump obstructed the House’s ability to investigate his interactions with the president of Ukraine.

“So we have now a process crime,” Starr said. “Contempt of Congress, contempt of the House in the course of its impeachment.” He cited Wednesday’s hearing as proof that there is a litigable argument for impeachment being drawn up against the president.

“I think articles of impeachment are being drawn up, if they haven’t been already drawn up,” Starr said, adding, “This obviously has been one of those bombshell days.”

This isn’t Starr’s first impeachment rodeo. As independent counsel in 1998, he wrote the investigative report, eponymously named the “Starr Report,” that led to the impeachment of Bill Clinton.


Listen to Washington, DC Bureau Chief David Corn describe the outrageous partisan theatrics playing out inside the impeachment room, and the mounting evidence against Donald Trump, in the latest episode of the Mother Jones Podcast:

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate