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

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

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:

LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

A First $500,000 donation of $500, $50, or $5 would mean the world to us—a signal that you believe in the power of independent investigative reporting like we do. And whether you can pitch in or not, we have a free Strengthen Journalism sticker for you so you can help us spread the word and make the most of this huge moment.

payment methods

LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

A First $500,000 donation of $500, $50, or $5 would mean the world to us—a signal that you believe in the power of independent investigative reporting like we do. And whether you can pitch in or not, we have a free Strengthen Journalism sticker for you so you can help us spread the word and make the most of this huge moment.

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