Disgraced former Baylor University President Kenneth Starr, best known for his role investigating Bill Clinton, has been added to President Donald Trump's legal defense team for the impeachment trial, according to media reports.
Starr’s investigation into Clinton’s sexual misconduct, culminating with the Starr Report, led to Clinton's impeachment. Starr also previously served as a federal judge for the District of Columbia Circuit in the 1980s. Under President George H.W. Bush, he served as U.S. solicitor general, arguing cases before the Supreme Court.
Starr was named the 14th president of Baylor University in Waco in 2010 and chancellor in 2013. After the mishandling of campus sexual assault allegations, he was ousted as president in 2016 and resigned as chancellor and law professor shortly after, cutting all ties with the university.
The sexual assault scandal began after a Baylor football player, Sam Ukwuachu, was convicted of rape. (In July, an appeals court reversed the decision and ordered a new trial for the second time in two years.) Testimony during the trial revealed that although Baylor investigated the allegations against Ukwuachu, it failed to take any punitive action. Soon after the conviction, female students made a wave of additional sexual assault allegations. An investigation by an outside law firm retained by the university found a pervasive mishandling of sexual assault cases.
During one of many resulting Title IX suits against Baylor, lawyers alleged that Starr and other university officials helped a student they knew to be accused of sexual harassment. The university eventually settled with several of the accusers.
Starr will join Robert Wray, who also served as independent counsel during the Clinton impeachment proceedings, and Harvard Law School professor and defense attorney Alan Dershowitz, who is known for his representation of controversial figures like O.J. Simpson and Jeffrey Epstein.
Also added to the team was former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who was hired by the White House to handle impeachment communications in November. In 2013, a political action committee for Bondi's reelection received a $25,000 donation from the Donald J. Trump Foundation. Shortly after, Bondi announced she wouldn't investigate fraud claims against Trump University.
White House counsel Pat Cipollone and Trump's personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow, will head the team.
These appointments come days after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced U.S. Rep. Sylvia Garcia of Houston will be one of seven Democrats to prosecute the impeachment case in the Senate.
The House voted largely along party lines in December to impeach Trump over allegations he used his office to pressure the Ukranian president to investigate a family member of Trump's political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden. Only the Senate has the power to remove a president with a two-thirds majority vote. It's considered unlikely the Republican-controlled Senate would join with Democrats to remove Trump from office.
Trump is the third U.S. president to be impeached by the House. No president has ever been removed from office by the Senate.
The Senate impeachment trial began Thursday with the reading of articles of impeachment. House Democrats will begin presenting the case against Trump next Tuesday.