Ken Starr fancies himself a model of moral rectitude. Nothing could be further from the truth. He is a total scumbag in both his personal and professional lives.
Remember how sanctimonious he was in investigating President Bill Clinton? Hard to believe, but he was originally appointed as Independent Counsel to investigate Clinton’s involvement in a supposed real estate scandal (Whitewater) from Clinton’s pre-Presidential days in Arkansas. But somehow — aided and abetted by a politically active 3-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit led by Republican partisan Judge David Sentelle – he managed to morph the investigation into probe of Bill Clinton’s sex life, and whether he lied about it under oath.
Starr was assisted in his vulgar mission by a young, self-righteous, full-of-himself attorney named Brett Kavanaugh, who supposedly was deeply offended by Clinton’s sexual proclivities and willingness to lie about them under oath. Kavanaugh’s 2018 Senate confirmation hearing demonstrated that he has drastically changed his views on both of these “principles” – or perhaps he always believed the rules only apply to Democrats, and not to Republicans like him.
Kavanaugh may have been a natural hypocrite, or he may have learned it from his mentor, Starr. While Starr did everything he could to pillory Clinton, all while adopting the demeanor of a prudish preacher, afterwards he embarked on a series of sordid adventures. He was President of Baylor University from 2010 to 2016, during which time sexual assaults by the football team ran rampant. He claimed, Gym Jordan-like, that he had no idea what was going on.
The Wall Street Journal reported that, under Starr’s watch, at least 17 women had alleged sexual or domestic assault involving 19 football players, including instances of gang rapes. Two players were convicted of rape and at least one other cut a plea deal. An independent report by an outside law firm found that: “Baylor failed to take appropriate action to respond to reports of sexual assault and dating violence reportedly committed by football players. The choices made by football staff and athletics leadership, in some instances, posed a risk to campus safety and the integrity of the University.” The report also found a “fundamental failure” by Baylor to implement federal mandates to address sexual violence on campus. Starr was fired by Baylor in the wake of the report. If only he’d investigated sexual assault at Baylor with as much vigor as he investigated Clinton’s affair.
Then there is Starr’s stint as a seedy sideman to Alan Dershowitz. New details are emerging on the significant role Starr played in procuring a sweetheart deal for serial sleazebag Jeffrey Epstein. In an upcoming book by Miami Herald reporter Julie K. Brown, Perversion of Justice, she reports that Starr “used his political connections in the White House to get the Justice Department to review Epstein’s case.”
According to Brown, Starr wrote an eight-page letter to Deputy Attorney General Mark Filip, who had been a law firm colleague of Starr’s, in which he accused the DOJ attorneys prosecuting Epstein of misconduct in trying to arrange a plea deal that would benefit their friends. Sadly, Starr’s efforts paid off, and DOJ struck the infamous plea deal that let Epstein serve only a 13-month sentence for his heinous crimes.
We’ve also seen Starr in lockstep with other Republicans in drastically changing his standards on appropriate conduct for a President, as he joined Dershowitz in arguing vigorously that Trump should not be convicted for abusing his Presidential power for attempting to pressure Ukrainian President Zelensky to dig up dirt on Trump’s political opponent, Joe Biden – or obstructing the investigation into his conduct. For good measure, Starr, who relentlessly pursued Clinton and urged his impeachment, also said that impeachment in the modern era has become a political weapon and is too divisive for the country. Thus, Starr checks the professional hypocrisy box.
On the moral rectitude front, Judi Hershman, a former mentee of Starr’s, who worked with him on the Clinton impeachment and other projects, including the PR fallout from the Baylor scandal, has just revealed that she had a year-long consensual affair with Starr, starting in 2009 while both of them were married. While not quite up to Gingrichian standards in conducting an affair at the same time as he was excoriating Clinton for his affair, Starr nonetheless deserves to check the personal hypocrisy box here.
To sum up, Ken Starr is a true Republican – willing to posture piously about moral values in standing against “abuse of power” as he unleashed his puritanical fury on a Democratic President, but then dutifully stepping in line to vigorously defend Trump, a man who trampled on every law and norm he could in attempting to maintain his power. In Republican minds, it’s all worth it in order to ram through conservative judges, like the equally contemptible Brett Kavanaugh.