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/Pam Beach Post via ZUMA

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:

THE BIG QUESTION...

as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot. That's what Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein tackles in her annual December column—"Billionaires Are Not the Answer"—about the state of journalism and our plans for the year ahead.

We can't afford to let independent reporting depend on the goodwill of the superrich: Please help Mother Jones build an alternative to oligarchy that is funded by and answerable to its readers. Please join us with a tax-deductible, year-end donation so we can keep going after the big stories without fear, favor, or false equivalency.

THE BIG QUESTION...

as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot.

Please read our annual column about the state of journalism and Mother Jones' plans for the year ahead, and help us build an alternative to oligarchy by supporting our people-powered journalism with a year-end gift today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight 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

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.