When special counsel Robert Mueller’s report comes out --- and most accounts say it will be soon --- it most likely will read like a prosecutor’s opening and closing statements, one-sided arguments devoid of exculpatory evidence. In that respect, it should make fine reading for the most wild-eyed anti-Trumpers out there. But they’re just going to have to wait. That’s because to satisfy the special counsel statute, the report is to be given only to newly-confirmed Attorney General Bill Barr.

According to former independent counsel Ken Starr, President Trump’s lawyers haven’t even seen it yet, so their side of the story has yet to be told. Starr, a former solicitor general and federal judge in addition to being the independent counsel in the Bill Clinton case, was interviewed by Mark Levin for Sunday’s LIFE, LIBERTY & LEVIN.

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The independent counsel legislation under which Starr worked was different from today’s special counsel statute; it had provisions that, in Starr’s words, “put a pretty heavy thumb on the scale” towards impeachment. (I would add that with the bill House Democrats want to pass to offer ironclad protection to Mueller, they show they’re willing to do anything they can to put that thumb back on.) It seems they worship Mueller as a god, while in the case of Ken Starr, they demonized him, with the media camping outside his door day and night. “It’s very nice of them” to leave Mueller alone, Starr said wryly. He said that for this kind of cooperation, there must have been what he called “a treaty of peace” with the various media outlets.

Starr was philosophical about the personal attacks, saying that anyone investigating the President is going to be disliked by 45-50 percent of the American people, but he noted that the media are largely sympathetic to someone investigating a Republican, like Nixon or, now, Trump, and “maybe not so” to someone investigating a Democrat. (No kidding.) He made the great point that Clinton was skilled in letting surrogates like James Carville and Sidney Blumenthal attack him, while Trump –- “I think unwisely,” Starr said –- has chosen to make the attacks against Mueller all by himself.


When Starr’s investigation turned from Whitewater, the White House Travel Office and other such scandals to the Monica Lewinsky episode, the attacks on Starr got so intense that some of his friends, such as Sen. Orrin Hatch and fellow attorney Ted Olsen, told him he needed to make media appearances on shows like “Larry King Live” and give his side. He disagreed at the time, although later he reassessed that opinion. He could have done it as long as he didn’t reveal grand jury information, because that would have been illegal.


Mueller is quiet, but he can afford to be. Most of the mainstream media would let him get away with murder. (Come to think of it, if he reports nothing the House Democrats can use against Trump, the media will change their tune. Only then will he have to get out there and defend himself. It’ll be his turn to write a scathing book and go on 60 MINUTES.)


Levin and Starr had a great discussion of what sort of information is supposed to be included in a final report. Leon Jaworski, who was Watergate special prosecutor back when this kind of investigation was new, said he wasn’t going to write a report that trashed people and made insinuations that he couldn’t prove. To do so would be an abuse of power, and he apparently saw the irony of abusing power while investigating people for abusing power. (If only more government officials recognized that today.) According to Ken Starr, the so-called “road map” Jaworski issued refrained from filling in the gaps with speculation. It’s enough that this kind of report was, by definition, one-sided.


Starr considered the damage this kind of report can do to someone’s reputation, noting what Clinton attorney Vince Foster said before a university graduating class just two months before apparently taking his own life: “In our profession, if you lose your reputation, you lose everything.” (Working so closely with the Clintons, he sadly must have known he was in the process of losing his, but I digress.) Starr pointed out that an important function of the law is to protect innocent people’s reputations from being besmirched.

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In accordance with that, Justice Antonin Scalia, in his dissent from the Supreme Court decision that upheld the independent counsel law, said this statute is “acrid with the smell of impeachment.” The law was changed to make the final report confidential, going only to the attorney general (in this case William Barr), who, in turn, uses his own judgement to decide what to report to Congress.


“I think there’s an assumption that isn’t grounded in the text of the regulations,” Starr said; namely, that Democrats are going to see the full report from Mueller, which they intend to use as a “road map” to impeachment. In fact, they’re insisting on it. That would’ve been the case under the old statute, but not under the current one.


As for the climate at the FBI, especially concerning leaks, Starr could speak from the perspective of someone who was with the Justice Department during the tenures of three FBI directors: Bill Webster, Louis Freeh and Bill Sessions. He said it would have been “really out of character” for the top people, particularly under Webster and Freeh, to be leaking. “Those were straight shooters,” he said, “as honest as the day is long. They really embodied the goals and values of the FBI –- the FBI: fidelity, bravery, integrity. And that ‘integrity’ word is so terribly important, because you’ve got to believe in the honesty of law enforcement. The FBI has an enormous amount of power, so the person at the top sets the tone, and they set a great tone, a high moral tone”


Those were the days.


One thing that was especially gratifying to hear from Starr was his opinion of what McCabe and his colleagues at Obama’s FBI were doing to go after a sitting President. “I mean, who do they think they are?” he said, though much more calmly than those words in print might suggest. He said that for the FBI to turn its considerable power against the President of the United States was “appalling” unless there was some “reasonable ground to believe” that he was breaking the law or was actually an agent of a foreign government. From what Starr has seen, there is “zero” evidence that Trump was in any way an agent of any foreign power –- “He had relationships, obviously, but who doesn’t, who’s coming into the Presidency?” –- and the FBI showed “enormously poor judgement,” acting “like runaway cops.”


What they should have done, he said, if there was something that serious going on, was to go to the attorney general, who would go to the White House counsel. There is a regular order for this that they did not follow. They had “an abysmal understanding of our constitutional order and the power of the President,” he said. Personally, I think it went further than that; they probably knew exactly what the constitutional order was but threw the rules out the window because it was Trump.


They seemed to think that Trump's firing of then-FBI Director Comey was enough. We all know that firing Comey was well within the President’s authority and that there were plenty of good reasons. Republicans and Democrats alike wanted him gone. And it certainly wasn’t going to keep Trump from being investigated further. In fact, the reverse was true.


According to Starr, Comey “usurped” the attorney general’s authority in declining to recommend prosecution for Hillary. In fact, that was included in the “firing memo” deputy AG Rod Rosenstein wrote at Trump’s request. Starr said he wished Trump had gone ahead and fired Comey “much earlier.” I think we can all agree with that; in fact, Comey should have been fired on Trump’s first day in office. As for Trump “colluding” (conspiring) with Russia, Starr said that not only is there no evidence --- there are contraindications, from which we may deduce that the Russians acted on their own to sow discord in America.


There’s much more at the link; watch the whole show as Starr brings fundamental constitutional principles to bear on what is happening today. This interview should be played in every high school government class. But it won’t be.




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Comments 1-15 of 15

  • Helen Clayton

    03/10/2019 06:32 PM

    Thank you

  • Bonnie A Helminski

    02/26/2019 03:02 PM

    I listened to the Levin/Starr interview and was deeply impressed by both of these men and their knowledge of constitutional law. While I worked in the legal field for more than 40 years as a legal secretary/legal assistant, both of them greatly impressed me. I would certainly like to see someone follow up on Bill and Hillary Clinton. There are many more allegations against both of them, including from pre-White House days. Talk to some of the people in Arkansas!!! Their signs were being constantly shot up.

    Also, as a point of interest, have you ever reviewed the Congressional Record (1963) - - Appendix pp. A34-35? This contains an extension of remarks of Hon. A. S. Herlong, Jr. of Florida in the House of Representatives, which lists communist goals at that time (1963). A review of "The Naked Communist," by Cleon Skousen, is also referenced. I find this reading very scary, to say the least, because some of what is being proposed today, in 2019, seems to be very familiar. Hitler's first steps were to disarm the people! Control the food, housing and healthcare, and you control the people! Some may say that I am paranoid, but I would not like to see history repeat itself, particularly in my little corner of the world.

  • Don Chenault

    02/26/2019 07:57 AM

    As a Trump supporter i take comfort for the handful of christians ( Sarah, Pence, and others) around Pres Trump. Powerful forces
    against Pres Trump(media, hollywood, dimms, rinos, globalist).. Battle is raging to destroy the Police, Military, Christianity,Border, Sanctity of
    Life.. We the silent majority( may not be majority anymore) were silent and hiding behind trees too long.. Hope not too late

  • JohnnyE

    02/26/2019 01:00 AM

    The question begging to be asked is why trump is making such great effort to impede the investigation about Russia messing with our election. He's been firing investigators, FBI officials, prosecutors; subverting the House Intelligence Committee when Republicons were in charge; he's been threatening witnesses and judges on twitter; and he and his cohorts have been lying about their exensive contacts with Russian officials and intelligence agents before and after the election. Numerous people close to trump have been indicted or admitted guilt to crimes. But this isn't just a white collar crime where strict rules of admissible evidence are needed. This is also a counterespionage investigation where numerous indications point to Russian meddling. The FBI and all the other intelligence agencies would be negligent if they didn't follow every lead no matter what donald and FOX News(sic) pundits thought.

  • Leroy Becker

    02/26/2019 12:14 AM

    Is there no time limit to this? What kind of a law do we really have here? And where does Mueller get the millions to continue?
    Is all this really within the Constitution, or did Congress just make that special counsel law without regard to the law of the land? And we need to ask this regardless of which political party a president claims. Get it over with!
    Death to America by a thousand cuts has been the agenda for so many years that our young people do not know any different. The last time there was really a nationwide unity was after pearl harbor. The kind of unity where everyone knew what had to be done, even though the British and French could have readily stopped it all in the 30's and saved millions of lives and tremendous natural resources, like our President is now trying to do with Korea and Iran. Our President needs the rock solid support of every American in these efforts, but all we continue to get is the same old crap: Death by a thousand cuts, and even Fox News isn't worth turning on most of the time! Just the same old garbage over and over and over.

  • Tony Weaver

    02/25/2019 11:43 PM

    Why are most pictures of Mr Mueller at a camera angle where we are looking up at him? Just a thought

    New question: how much are we paying him? it should be ppublic record

  • Tony Weaver

    02/25/2019 11:42 PM

    Why are most pictures of Mr Mueller at a camera angle where we are looking up at him? Just a thought

    New question: how much are we paying him? it should be ppublic record

  • rodney burke

    02/25/2019 11:32 PM

    the whole mess was a shame from day 1. Mueller's creds are gone. He KNEW better from the start. As Dan Bongino says continually, Mueller's job is to clean up the mess and keep attention on Trump and OFF of the REAL crime. NOW, the one thing we do NOT know is what happened when Trump AND Rosenstein met with DT for more than 2 hours? Should be revealing when the report comes out.

  • Thomas Martin

    02/25/2019 10:18 PM

    Outstanding commentary...It is a shame that most of the younger generations would not understand it, due to our education system being reduced to merely a daycare service.

  • Patrick Canan

    02/25/2019 05:29 PM

    In 2008 I so appreciated that you called the shots with keen insight, but now I don't see that same analysis. I know that most of the press leans liberal, but that is NOT why they "camped out" at Ken Starr's doorstep. They did that because Mr. Starr spoke with them and used them to publicize his investigation....and it didn't hurt that his staff leaked. Whether liberal or conservative, the press loves a story, even as they slant how they report it. They make their living by finding stories, and you can be sure that if they could get one from Mr. Mueller they would hound his home and office day and night. I long for the days when I could count on your insights to be a couple of steps ahead of mine.

  • Edwin Allman

    02/25/2019 04:48 PM

    Excellent column, as always. Still recovering from brain surgery almost four years ago, so please forgive my sometimes scattered thinking. But I want to highlight the fact that Trump seems to have been ill-served by some of people he unfortunately trusted. I hope he is vindicated.

    Again, superb commentary.

  • Jerry Korba

    02/25/2019 04:47 PM

    Getting Comey and the Collection of Anti Americans behind bars and heavily fined would be satisfying. How ever these misfits could not have figured it out with out The President's consent and help. No one points a finger at Obama why is that? An American loving President would have stopped this in its tracks. All our enemies laugh at this mess as they laughed behind Obama's back. They all know his agenda was similar to theirs. Bring America down to a less than average country. Look at All the money sent to Iran, Uranium to Russia let North Korea get to where its at today, the same with China country of thieves, the Bengyasi killings the Obama's apology tour; did you hear the organ grinder Joe Biden apology in Berlin another misfit disgracing America on foreign soil the list seems endless. Investigation of a campaign collusion that is not a crime and the rest goes unnoticed. New AG start taking the real criminals down 5 at a time have it done by Thanksgiving I am thankful for President Trump lets take our thanks it up a few notches let get the collection of misfits behind bars.

  • Donna Cornell

    02/25/2019 02:57 PM

    Thank you Governor Huckabee! LOVE Sarah Sanders too! So grateful for your extremely 'informative' and 'truth-filled' commentaries and your TBN show also! God bless y'all AND God DOES bless America!
    He 'heard' our 'request' for a 'decent', 'teachable' President and I'd say he is 'a learning' a lot in the morning Bible studies! Amen!
    God will NOT allow any 'weapon of Satan's' to form against these United States nor at the 'Highest Level of the Office' of our Country to which I 'pledge' my 'loyalty' to!
    Again, thank you for 'who you are' and what a GRAND and terrific daughter you 'raised' up in the way she should go 'at a time in our Country' God has placed her in for this 'now' time!

  • Bruce Ross

    02/25/2019 02:54 PM

    Sadly all the dims are going to do is continue to obstruct the will of the American people. No offense Sir, but the majority of today's politicians are nothing more than common criminals. There's only one solution

  • Walter N. Willis

    02/25/2019 02:48 PM

    Excellent reporting and commentary. Your writing is more believable than Cronkite's. Keep up the good work. We really need honest reporting and assessments. There are many more of us than the Democrats realize.