UPDATE, with Starr’s afternoon comments Ken Starr, the former independent counsel who led the Bill Clinton impeachment investigation, said on Fox News this morning that Ambassador Gordon Sondland’s testimony is a “bombshell” that all but guarantees articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.
Starr, who yesterday said the House Intelligence Committee impeachment hearings had not proven a crime, said today that things had changed with Sondland’s testimony. (Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, implicated both Trump and personal attorney Rudolph Giuliani today in a “quid pro quo” with Ukraine).
Asked by Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer about Sondland’s testimony, Starr said, “It leads me that there will be articles of impeachment. I think we’ve known that. I think it was just confirmed today, and then substantively what we heard from the chairman just now is, it’s over.”
Summarizing the Democratic position, Starr said “We now know that the president, in fact, committed the crime of bribery. The something of value, that’s litigable.” Then, pivoting to his own opinion, Starr said, “I think articles of impeachment are being drawn up if they haven’t already been drawn up…So, this obviously has been one of those bombshell days.”
Starr’s comments immediately began making the Twitter rounds, with some news outlets failing to distinguish Starr’s “bribery” statement as speculation about Democrat Adam Schiff’s thinking rather than his own opinion. Starr did, however, say the situation “doesn’t look good for the president, substantively.”
Later in the day, though, Starr reappeared during Fox News’ coverage of the hearing and said Republicans were “helped tremendously” by later developments in today’s hearing, especially Republican counsel’s pointing out that Sondland had failed to mention in his opening statement that Trump had told him “I want nothing” and “no quid pro quo” with regard to Ukraine.
Trump himself made that point during a scrum with reporters on his way to meet Apple CEO Tim Cook in Texas. “I would say that means it’s all over,” Trump said, then, reading from notes, quoted Sondland’s recall of a phone conversation with the president: “‘I want nothing!’ I said it twice!,” Trump said today.
The president didn’t mention that he also told Sondland, according to Sondland’s previous statements, that Ukraine should “do the right thing” and “clear things up,” interpreted by Democrats as referring to a Ukraine investigation of the Bidens.
Trump denied watching any more of the hearing, saying he ‘turned off the television” after the “I want nothing” segment.
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.